Kimberly J. Williams
On Saturday, June 4, the Sonny Boy Blues Society (SBBS), a non-profit organization established in 1987 to promote and preserve the cultural heritage of the Delta Blues, will honor the Arkansas Delta’s own Peetie Wheatstraw, also known as William Bunch, in downtown Cotton Plant.
The group will dedicate a grave marker and interpretive sign detailing Bunch’s influence on Arkansas Delta blues music. The program also includes music and a special performance by David Evans. Friends and family members of the legendary musician will also be on hand to speak and share their memories of Bunch. The public is invited to attend.
The event takes place at 2 p.m. in downtown Cotton Plant, where Bunch lived as a child. William Bunch adopted the moniker Peetie Wheatstraw in the 1920s. He became one of the most influential blues singers of 1930s, recording more than 160 songs between 1930 and 1941. Many believe Robert Johnson drew much of his musical repertoire from Wheatstraw.
Bunch/Wheatstraw died on Dec. 21, 1941, when the car he was riding in struck a train…less than one block from his home. It was also his 39th birthday. After his death, Bunch was shipped back to Cotton Plant and placed in an unmarked grave.
Through this event, the Sonny Boy Blues Society hopes to give Bunch/Wheatstraw some of the recognition he rightly deserves.