Not all 1-4-5

LAURA CARBONE/PHOTOSMr. Sipp, the Missippi Blues Child, is the alter ego of Castro Coleman, a gospel star.

PLATTSBURGH — Mr. Sipp, the Mississippi Blues Child, is empire building in his native place.

Sipp's Place is a restaurant by day, and a blue's club by night.

It is located at 143 West Railroad Ave. in North Magnolia, Miss., which is between Jackson, Miss. And New Orleans, La.

But this weekend, you can catch Mr. Sipp and band mates — Jeffrey Flanagan (bass), Samuel Brady (organ) and William West (drums) — 7 p.m. Saturday on City Hall steps at the 42nd Annual Mayor's Cup Festival and Regatta.



Mr. Sipp is the alter ego of gospel star Castro Coleman, and he also runs Studio 31, a recording studio in McComb where he lives.

He is opening up a new enterprise, Sipp's Event Center.

“I bought that building the first of the year, I got guys renovating it now,” Coleman said.

He is the third son of Johnell Coleman and the late Vera Delores Coleman. “She passed in '99,” he said.

“She was a great woman and lived a great life and planted great seeds in me and my brothers and my sisters. So, we're grateful for the life that she lived. He hails from a musical family grounded in the church.”

His father was a musician and his group's manager.

His mother was the lead singer and her group's manager.

“It's just a cool thing about my entire family,” Coleman said.

“Everybody in my family play and sing. And when I say everybody, I'm saying nieces and nephews, my grandmother, my grandfather. That's our thing. Music.

“I tell the story, and a lot of people don't believe it, I'm one of the least talented ones in my family. I'm just the only one in my family that was crazy enough to say you know what I'm going to do this for a living."



As a blues act, he's circled the world three times in the last six years.

“But the 26 years in gospel, we did some extensive traveling as well,” Coleman said.

“I had some big records over there, and I played on big records, produced on big records. I would say 26 years was a long time, but the six years we covered a lot of ground and made a major impact as a blues musician.”

Blues was indeed viewed as the devil's music, oh my God, but he was never a conventional gospelist.

“Throughout my whole gospel career, I was the guy that always went against the grain,” he said.

“I brought the excitement of a difference to a church. When they wore suits, I wore tennis shoes. When they said in the church that men was not supposed to wear long hear, I grew 22 inches of dreds and they accepted it because my music was great. I just created positive energy.”

He was never the church boy but the artist.

“So when I made this move, I wouldn't say expected but you never knew what to expect coming from me,” Coleman said.

“It was like okay, he's going to make it work. If anybody can do it, he can do it.”



Coleman has rocked shades of a Steve Urkel look last decade of his gospel career.

His apparel is on the far side of preppy topped with thick, black rimmed glasses.

“The whole thing about the glasses, my oldest daughter was being bullied in school,” he said.

“I was in Nashville cutting a gospel album. She had her eyes checked, and my wife took her to the eye doctor and got her those frames and put her on the bus. She was third grade then. She said they laughed at her and all that stuff.”

He told her to send a picture of her glasses, so he could assess the situation.

“Lo and behold, it was those frames on a third grader with two pigtails,” Coleman said.

He bought those same frames and rocked then on his next album cover.

“I did it, and it worked,” he said.

“Then, I started selling the glasses and started doing motivational speaking about bullying in schools. The glasses became so cool, everyone started wearing and rocking the glasses."

Seguing into the blues, he knew his preppy look would grab people's attention and was a slick marketing strategy.

“Because I was brand new, they might not know my name but they'll know the guy with the glasses,” Coleman said.

“I was confident in what I was going to present, but I wasn't sure being totally new on the scene that people would remember, 'Oh, that's Mr. Sipp.' The first two years, it wasn't that's Mr. Sipp. It was you know the guy with the nerd glasses.”



BB King is first and foremost in the legends he pays homage to as well as his kin.

“My grandfather and my uncles, those guys were terrific players,” he said.

“They just didn't decide to do it as a profession but as for the skills, the chops, the ability, they had it.”

Being from Mississippi, he holds tight to his brethren blues men— Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Robert Johnson — even when they migrate to Chicago.

Mr. Sipp is the Mississippi Blues Child, and he calls his guitar Delores, after his mother's middle name.

He snagged a recent endorsement with Delaney guitar and a signature guitar is in production.

Personally, he has more than 350 guitars.

“I have a problem,” Coleman said.

“Guitars and cars are my problem. I got it bad.”



Coleman turned off the lights off at 4:30 a.m. last Thursday in his studio where he was cutting, “Sippnotize,” his new album which features all originals.

He has blues tracks on it, but it's not a blues album.

“I'm doing great music,” Coleman said.

“I want to be taken out of the box of a blues musician because I'm much more than just a blues musician. It's more to me than just 1-4-5, the music people will know what I'm talking about, standard blues chord structure.

“I think by doing this record it's going to open me up to other music festivals versus just doing a string of blues festivals. It will open me up to other venues instead of just doing blues clubs. It's great stuff. It's great stuff.”

He is always up to the challenge of topping his previous records, which include “It's My Guitar,” “The Mississippi Blues Child” and “Knock A Hole In It” on Malaco Records.



He has his own label, Baby Boy Records.

“My brother next to me he plays with me from time to time,” Coleman said.

“He's not a road guy. My older brother really kind of guided me and my second brother along.”

His four daughters are all musical.

“I haven't sit down with neither one of them to teach anything,” Coleman said.

“They just come out playing or singing. It's really like that. I tell people that I'm not exaggerating if a child comes into the family and it don't do something musical, we wonder if it's really in the family. Something terrible happened.”

He has always lived in Mississippi and is a "say it loud, I'm a country boy and proud."

“I can't do traffic,” Coleman said.


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