Four artists spent about eight weeks and $1500 on paint supplies to create a magnificent mural now referred to by Navasotans as Blues Alley. The incredible work pays homage to the music legends and icons that called Navasota home—Mance Lipscomb, Joe Tex, Tippy Larkin, Jerry Jericho, Texas Alexander, Blind Willie Johnson, Thomas Shaw, Johnny Bush, Julia Owen, Nat Dove, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Lightnin’ Junior, Mike Torres, and Big Lu Valeny and Los Muchachos. It’s an incredible musical mix that hints at the rich, musical heritage that’s now yielded an annual blues festival (which is making a comeback in recent years) and the summer music series in front of city hall.
Mayor Bert Miller commissioned the project and asked local artist Russell Cushman to take the lead. He brought in other local artists like Leon Collins, Frank Graham, and David Woods to complete the mural, which runs from north to south to fill the entire alley next to the Classic Rock Café. Fittingly, the shop inside the café, where you can purchase artwork, vinyl records, and other memorabilia, is called Blues Alley.
Later, he left and returned to Texas Rangers a few times, retaining a Special Ranger commission. His most famous commission was as a special investigator hired by the Texas Prison system to track down the infamous outlaws, Bonnie and Clyde. It took Hamer just three months to assemble a team of law enforcement officers from Texas and Louisiana, track down the Barrow Gang, and ambush them near Gibsland, Louisiana, killing the lawless lovers. In honor of Frank Hamer, Navasotans commissioned local artist, Russell Cushman, to create a statue of Hamer that now sits in front of Navasota City Hall. Even one of the local watering holes, Hamer’s Speakeasy in the newly restored (and award-winning) P.A. Smith Hotel & Event Center, is themed for the famed ranger. The drink names evoke Hamer’s nickname (Pancho), his sidekick (Maney Gault), his wife (Gladys), to his pistol (the .38 Special), and even the 157 bullets embedded in the front of Clyde Barrow’s car after the ambush (the Highway’s 157).
The Blue Alley Mural is located at 129 E. Washington Avenue, Navasota, TX.