Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hi Hat Club Palmers Crossing Near Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi (February 5, 2010) – Hattiesburg’s original Hi-Hat Club, once a key stop on the Deep South “Chitlin’ Circuit,” will be added to the Mississippi Blues Trail. The club will be celebrated in an 11 a.m. ceremony on Wednesday, February 10, at 209 Airport Road in the Palmers Crossing community.

The “Chitlin’ Circuit was the premiere showcase for the nation’s top African American blues and soul performers. This will be the 102nd marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail, which was developed under the leadership of Governor Haley Barbour to preserve the state’s musical heritage.

“I am pleased we are able to honor the Hi-Hat, a major contributor to blues music in south Mississippi,” Governor Barbour said. “The club’s owner, Milton Barnes, was a pioneering entrepreneur in the African American community. He brought top musicians to the Hattiesburg area and helped new talent grow.”

The former club site, at 209 Airport Road in the Palmers Crossing community, is now occupied by a laundromat. Music legends B. B. King, James Brown, Otis Redding, Ike & Tina Turner, Johnnie Taylor, Ray Charles, Little Milton, Louis Armstrong, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, Fats Domino and many others played to packed houses at the club, which was initially named the Embassy Club. A fire destroyed the building, and it was rebuilt and named the Hi-Hat Club.

Eddie “Cozy” Corley and the Blue Gardenias, Terry Leggett and the Jewels of Swing, Jimmie Payton, and the Bogalusa-based Rhythm Aces were among the regional acts featured as well as current blues performers Vasti Jackson of Hattiesburg and Johnny Rawls of Purvis.

Corley, Rawls and Jackson have been invited to appear at the ceremony, along with Marvin Barnes, son of Hi-Hat owner Milton Barnes, who died in 2005. Barnes was one of Mississippi’s most successful African American entrepreneurs. He owned the 75-year-old Barnes Cleaners, the Hattiesburg Black Sox baseball team and ball park and was a home builder. He also had an interest in several nightclubs in Laurel and Gulfport. The latter-day hip-hop club known as the Hi-Hat 2000 was named in honor of the original Hi-Hat but had no connection to Barnes’ business.

The Mississippi Blues Trail is searching for photographs and posters from the Hi-Hat and other clubs to further document the musical history of Hattiesburg. Anyone with material is invited to contact research director Jim O’Neal at 816.931.0383 or
Mississippi is a destination for music lovers. Gov. Barbour created the Mississippi Blues Trail to recognize the talents of the state’s countless musicians in the Birthplace of America’s Music. When completed more than 100 sites will offer an unforgettable journey into Blues history.
For more information, visit the Mississippi Blues Trail on the web at or the official MDA Tourism site To contact the Mississippi Blues Trail office in Jackson, contact Alex Thomas 601.359.3297,