Day Trips

Brilliant Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb gets due respect in Navasota

Day Trips
Photo by Gerald E. Mcleod

Mance Lipscomb had his own way of playing the Texas blues that was tinted by the fertile soil of Grimes County around Navasota. His music remains remarkably undated half a century after it was first recorded. Last August, his hometown dedicated a life-size bronze statue of him in a park that bears his name.

Born in 1895, Lipscomb took pride in being a farmer, but it was his unique style of playing guitar and singing that brought him fame. A contemporary of his Houston cousin Lightnin' Hopkins, Mance had been supplementing his income by performing in juke joints as far away as Louisiana before he was "discovered" in 1960. He enjoyed international adulation for more than a dozen years till a stroke put an end to his performing career. He died at age 80 in 1976. His music is still available from Arhoolie Records.

Navasota, 26 miles southeast of College Station, has embraced its musical heritage. Downtown, Blues Alley is part museum and part antique shop. The annual Blues Fest held in August raises funds for the Mance Lipscomb Scholarship Fund benefiting local high school students.

Mance Lipscomb Park is on South La Salle Street where it crosses Cedar Creek. The 300-pound statue was sculpted by Sid Henderson.

1,059th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin' Hopkins, Arhoolie Records, Blues Alley, Mance Lipscomb Park, Sid Henderson

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