Martha and Scott Dunbar lived on the bank of Lake Mary, an oxbow lake twenty miles west of Woodville in Wilkinson County. The lake formed when the Mississippi River changed its course, and the abandoned riverbed became a lake. Lake Mary is famed for its fishing, and Scott Dunbar worked most of his life as a fishing guide and as a musician who performed at parties in the area.
Dunbar was a songster who composed and sang a wide range of blues. One of his most unusual songs is a cante-fable—a sung story—about a young man who courts his sweetheart. He brings corn whiskey to her parents to make them fall asleep, and then he courts their daughter through the night.
Dunbar was also a gifted storyteller whose tales vividly describe the worlds of black religion, white fishermen, and the military at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. He used his wit to survive in these worlds, and his stories are filled with both humor and pathos, as are those of his wife, Martha Dunbar.
These interviews were recorded during the summer of 1968 at the Dunbars’ home.