Bartlett’s Annual Fall Car Show on Guffin Road

The homestead and surrounding acreage which belonged to Bartlett bluesman Lum Guffin still belongs to his descendants, and is occasionally rented out for events. Once a year, in the fall, it is the venue for a classic car show, which attracts competitors and fans alike. The weather is always beautiful, there is always a great soul and blues DJ, and usually good food and snacks from a couple of food trucks. I usually run into people I knew from Bartlett High School, and generally have a good time. After the judging is over, the kids love seeing the cars leave one by one. As they turn onto Guffin Road, they will usually peel out, which is of course what the young people want to see. It’s always a Sunday afternoon of good family fun, and one remaining institution in a rapidly vanishing African-American rural community between Bartlett and Ellendale.

As for Lum, he has been unjustly forgotten, although some Bartlett residents are working to change that. Tav Falco’s documentary film about him Key to the Highway (1978) has been posted to YouTube with Falco’s blessing, and an effort is being made to have him honored with a Tennessee historic marker on Guffin Road, which was once his private driveway. Unheard recordings of him seem to exist in the Tennessee State Archives in Nashville and the Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis, as well as a video of his fife and drum band at the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History in Washington, DC. Hopefully a new generation of Americans can be made aware of this most important bluesman.

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