Blue Front Café in Bentonia
Location of Bentonia, Mississippi
|• Total||1.4 sq mi (3.5 km2)|
|• Land||1.4 sq mi (3.5 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||197 ft (60 m)|
|• Density||366.0/sq mi (141.3/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||0666837|
Bentonia is a town in Yazoo County, Mississippi. The population was 500 at the 2000 census. Some blues scholars maintain that there is a "Bentonia School" of blues singing and guitar-playing, and that "Bentonia-style" is a distinct style of delta blues, though Bentonia lies outside the Mississippi Delta proper.
Bentonia began as a postal town along the Illinois Central Railway. It is named for an early resident. Bentonia had a population of 167 in 1900.
The "Bentonia School," "Bentonia-style" or "Bentonia Blues" is more accurately described as the unique, haunting, country blues style that originated in and immediately around the small town of Bentonia. The annual Bentonia Blues Festival is held the third Saturday of June in downtown Bentonia. The festival's Blues Stage is always set up in front of the world-famous Blue Front Cafe [sic erat scriptum], which is still operated by proprietor Jimmy "Duck" Holmes who, as a young man, largely learned the local style from Bentonia Blues master Jack Owens.
Bentonia was the hometown of Henry Stuckey, founder of the Bentonia style of Blues, and his two famous students, Skip James and Jack Owens. Bentonia is also home of the historic Blue Front Café where owner Jimmy “Duck” Holmes keeps it authentic, especially when he breaks out his guitar for an impromptu performance.
The Blue Front Café in Bentonia and native sons Skip James and Jack Owens have received historical markers by The Mississippi Blues Commission commemorating their importance in the history of the development of the blues in Mississippi. These markers are located in front of the Blue Front Café in downtown Bentonia, at the southeastern corner of the intersection of U.S. Route 49 and Mississippi Highway 433 West (…one block west of Bentonia Gas and Food, formerly Osborne's Grocery, which locals called "Poochie's." Clarence "Poochie" Osborne still runs the adjoining tire shop, Osborne's Tire Repair, and a stop there to chew the fat with Poochie and/or his top tire man, Samuel "Sammie" Bassett is as unique an experience as a visit with Jimmy "Duck" Holmes at the historic Blue Front Café.), and at the intersection of Mississippi Highway 433 South and Rose Hill Road (just east of the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church), respectively. The three markers are officially on the Mississippi Blues Trail.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2), all land.
Bentonia's largest population count, 544, was recorded in 1970. Bentonia had sixty fewer residents in 2010 compared to 2000, and the 2015 estimate is another fourteen fewer. As of the census of 2000, there were 500 people, 203 households, and 130 families residing in the town. The population density was 366.0 people per square mile (140.9/km²). There were 214 housing units at an average density of 156.6 per square mile (60.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 62.80% White, 35.80% African American, 0.20% Asian, 0.20% from other races, and 1.00% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.40% of the population.
There were 203 households out of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.9% were married couples living together, 21.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.5% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the town, the population was spread out with 25.2% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 79.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.4 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $21,458, and the median income for a family was $39,583. Males had a median income of $28,000 versus $26,875 for females. The per capita income for the town was $12,440. About 23.3% of families and 27.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.5% of those under age 18 and 22.2% of those age 65 or over.
The Town of Bentonia is served by the Yazoo County School District.
- Rowland, Dunbar (1907). Mississippi: Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form. 1. Southern Historical Publishing Association. p. 234.
- "Bentonia Blues - unique, haunting, country blues still heard in Bentonia, Mississippi". bentoniablues.com. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
- "The Official Bentonia Blues Festival Webpage". bentoniablues.com. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
- "Mississippi Blues Commission - Blues Trail". www.msbluestrail.org. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
- "Blue Front Café a sure stop along Mississippi Blues Trail - USATODAY.com". www.usatoday.com. 2006-07-03. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
- "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.