Early Blues history reports Chess Records’ legendary Chess brothers shlepping out into Mississippi cotton fields to recruit promising artists on their lunch breaks.Sheer nonsense. Leonard and Phil Chess were Chicago-based. The post-war musicians they recorded are not a matter of “early Blues history,” whatever that may be. And no writer on blues ever described the brothers Chess recruiting musicians in Mississippi.
Mark Costello and David Foster Wallace, Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race in the Urban Present (Hopewell, NJ: Ecco, 1990).
My best guess to explain this howler: In 1941 and 1942 Alan Lomax recorded Muddy Waters in Mississippi for the Library of Congress. The recordings were released on the Chess label in 1966 as the album Down on Stovall’s Plantation. And years later, a writer with a cursory knowledge of his subject attributed the recordings to the brothers Chess.
[Why assign an error in a co-authored book to Wallace? The sentence I’ve quoted is from one of the “D.” sections of the book.]