GUIDE TO CLARKSDALE & THE DELTA
Below, you'll find what you need to know about places to stay and things to see in Clarksdale and the blues-drenched Mississippi Delta. Wherever you spend the night or visit... please "tell 'em Cat Head sent ya!" — Roger Stolle, your armchair tour guide
Clarksdale Guide page contents (below):
1. Area Accommodations
2. Guide to Clarksdale
3. Tours & Transportation
4. Mississippi Blues Road Trip
5. Live Music
6. "Am I welcome in Mississippi? 'Cause I heard..."
7. MAPS from Tourism!! (Scroll to very bottom.)
1. OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATIONS — Where to stay.
CLARKSDALE, MISSISSIPPI - Main "Delta blues" town; only Mississippi town with live blues 7 nights a week; home of Delta Blues Museum, Cat Head blues store, Rock & Blues Museum, Red’s Lounge, Ground Zero Blues Club, etc.; centrally located for festivals in region; 80 min. south of Memphis; 70 min. north of Greenville/Leland; 60 min. from Oxford, Greenwood or Indianola; 30 min. from Helena, AR.
NOTE: During festival time periods, please feel free to email Cat Head’s Roger Stolle for updates on where rooms might be available, etc. — firstname.lastname@example.org
SPECIALTY HOTELS/B&Bs/CONDOS/APTS (unique or historic lodging - mostly downtown):
* Clark House Residential Inn - Restored home of Clarksdale founder John Clark; quiet, historic neighborhood, very convenient to downtown. Click link or call 662-621-1632.
* Delta Cotton Company Apartments above world-famous Ground Zero Blues Club in downtown Clarksdale. Click link or call 662-645-9366 or 662-621-9009. https://www.facebook.com/DeltaCottonCompany
* The Lofts at Five & Dime - Luxury condo apartments above old Woolworth building — now the Yazoo Pass restaurant — downtown. Click link or call 662-645-8874.
* Higher Purpose downtown apartments (formerly Bluestown Inn); two units, A: https://abnb.me/Wd26cge7H3 and B: https://abnb.me/rXH03pq7H3.
* Blues Hound Flat apartment, downtown, 901-272-0230 (www.blueshoundflat.com)
* Squeeze Box, Delta Digs and The Hooker Hotel — 3 apartments, 2nd & Delta downtown, contact John Magnusson 732-740-6155, email@example.com.
* Holy Moly building includes Eastern Star Executive Suite (305 Issaquena Ave.) furnished rental apartment (ground floor 1000 sq ft, full kitchen/laundry as well as longer term rental apartments. www.theholymoly.com • https://www.vrbo.com/609130
* Chateau DeBris guest house, 111 Leflore Ave. downtown, group stays of 8-10 people (or room rentals by night). Chateaudebris.com. Call John Magnusson 732-740-6155.
* Auberge Clarksdale Hostel, E 2nd St. & Delta Ave., downtown (sister to one in New Orleans); first hostel in town - www.aubergehostels.com
* The Riverside Hotel - The most blues-historic place to stay in the world. "It’s where Bessie Smith died and Ike Turner lived!" (Former owner Frank “Rat” Ratliff passed away in 2013, but his daughter Zee is running it just fine.) Email Zee at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or call 662-624-9163, 662-645-3152.
* Shack-up Inn and Cotton Gin Inn - Very popular, historic accommodations on the grounds of the old Hopson Plantation, near Hwy 61 bypass & 49), 662-624-8329.
* Shacksdale Motel - Located across RR track from Shack-up, https://www.facebook.com/shacksdale/
* The Loft at Hopson Plantation - Large loft located beside Shack-up Inn (near Hwy 61 bypass & 49); also ask about small house rentals, 662-902-3866.
*The Sunflower Cottage on the River - Three bedroom house near Hopson Commissary.
* “Johnnie Be Goode’s” House (2 bed/1.5 bath, near downtown), 209-304-3815 or 209-217-6040 (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.vrbo.com #146407).
* Rusty’s Roost: newly renovated, cozy, comfy, 2BR 1BA cottage; located in historic district adjacent to downtown; Flexible long term rates upon request; Pets considered requiring pre-approval. Book thru VRBO / Homeaway OR just inquire via RentRustysRoost@gmail.com.
* Gimme Gumbo Apartment. Nightly / short-term rental. Across from Cat Head on Delta Ave. Double bed, foldout couch, kitchen, washer/dryer. Debbie: 662-302-1256, email@example.com
* Honey Hill Bed & Breakfast - "Elegant retreat on the Sunflower River"; contact Heath or Torey, firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-618-1157.
* Bobo Guesthouse (in historic neighborhood adjacent to downtown) - 2-story brick guesthouse w/2 bedrooms, 1 bath. For info, contact email@example.com or 601-927-0522.
* Air B&B for Clarksdale - https://www.airbnb.com/s/Clarksdale--MS
* Vacation Rentals by Owner - http://www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/usa/mississippi/clarksdale
GENERAL HOTELS/MOTELS (largest/newest generally starting at top of list):
* Hampton Inn (15000 New Africa Rd., behind McDonald’s), 662-621-1717
* Comfort Inn (on 818 S State State St. a.k.a. 161), 662-627-5122 (www.comfortinn.com)
* Rodeway Inn (formerly “Executive Inn,” 710 State St. a.k.a. 161), 662-627-9292
* America's Best Value Inn (350 S State Street a.k.a. 161), 662-621-1110
* Budget Inn (420 S State Str. a.k.a. 161), 662-624-6541
* Uptown Motor Inn (sometimes called the "Uptown" or "Downtowner" by locals, located downtown at 305 E. 2nd St.), 662-627-3251
* Southern Inn (1904 N. State Street a.k.a. 161), 662-624-6558
* Royal Inn (1910 N. State Street a.k.a. 161), 662-624-4391 (older, very basic place; debatable area; please check it out first)
* (Hick's Motel -- 662-624-9900 -- is NOT... again NOT recommended for tourists/visitors; bad area, poorly maintained, etc.)
"WHERE CAN I STAY WITH MY DOG?"
- YES - Friendly dogs with all shots, etc., are permitted at: The Loft at Hopson and The Sunflower River Beach House ($30 pet fee). Shack Up Inn (most shacks/downstairs bins; $15 per dog, max 2; leash required). Comfort Inn ("Pet friendly"). Rusty’s Roost (upon pre-approval; includes fenced backyard). Johnnie Be Goode's House allows dogs. CONTACT PLACES FOR DETAILS/$.
- NO - Pets are NOT permitted at Clark House, Bluestown Inn, Hooker Hotel/Delta Digs/Squeeze Box or Chateau Debris.
- ALSO... please keep your dogs on a leash downtown, and always pick up after your pooch, y'all! Thanks.
CAMPING IN CLARKSDALE:
* Expo Center camping facility (mainly RVs but all are welcome), 1150 Wildcat Dr. at State St. & Anderson Blvd. in Clarksdale (near Kroger/Walmart), booked through Coahoma County Outreach; large camping area with bathroom/laundry building. Reservations not required (or accepted). "Boxes are open 24 hrs, power, water, and some with sewage." Questions: firstname.lastname@example.org, 662-302-8822. (Note: during annual Juke Joint Festival, the fest runs a Saturday night bus shuttle that runs by hotels AND the Expo Center.)
* RV parking is also allowed in Walmart parking lot at 1000 South State St., BUT NO RV PARKING in downtown Clarksdale on Juke Fest weekend due to parking and safety concerns.
* "Sunflower River Tent Camping" during Juke Joint Festival 2021 – Wednesday-Sunday, April 14-18, 2021: Quapaw Canoe Company is offering bathroom and shower access to persons camping along the banks of the Sunflower River in the City Park around our facility and in other places downtown. Bathroom and shower access is (call or email below for price $) per tent per night. This applies to two person tents, each additional person will be an extra (call or email below for price $). Bring your own tent and sleeping bags. Don’t park on asphalt drive which the police use for access. Camping is possible in the grassy areas of the City Park north of the ramp, and any flat grassy places down along the river. Please don’t block gravel access to the Canoe Company. No open fires, but camp stoves, hibachis or small, personal sized BBQs are ok. No smoking (City ordinance in public places). Please note that this is a site for tent campers and non-commercial vehicles only. RV’s will be directed to the Expo Center. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Lena at the Quapaw Canoe Company: 662-627-4070, email@example.com
* Juke Joint Festival (only) downtown RV parking - Temporary RV parking in old Clarksdale Furniture/Harvest Foods parking lot. "Boondocking" (dry camping) sites only, from Wednesday-Sunday, April 14-18, 2021. Email Ben Lewis at Meraki /Griot nonprofit firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
* NEED A ROOM FOR JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL 2021? Simply book a room at our major festival sponsor in nearby Lula, Mississippi (30 min. away) — ISLE OF CAPRI! They have plenty of hotel rooms plus RV parking. Call 1-800-THE-ISLE (1-800-843-4753) or GO HERE: http://lula.isleofcapricasinos.com/hotel-room.aspx.
NOTE — IF YOU CAN’T FIND CLARKSDALE ROOMS FOR A FESTIVAL: During blues festival time periods, call early and often for rooms!! If you are having trouble finding a room, the Delma Furniss Mississippi Welcome Center in nearby Lula can help you find/book a hotel room in Clarksdale, Coahoma County or across the river in Helena - 662.337.2305; tell them your preference is to stay in Clarksdale, though, so they check there first. If you cannot find any room vacancies at your preferred accommodation during festival time periods, then book what you can and get on some preferred waiting lists. Since folks book their festival rooms so early, some will inevitably have to cancel as the festival gets closer. If all that doesn’t work, then perhaps consider renting an RV / camper in Memphis (maybe try?: Cruise America... Midsouth Motor Coach... Get RV.com... or RV Rentals of America); then, stay at Expo Center (camping facilities) in Clarksdale (where our Blues Bus shuttle will run on Sat night of Juke Joint Festival, by the way). Finally, if you still can’t figure out where/how to stay during a fest... Call Cat Head blues store (662-624-5992) or Tourism/Chamber of Commerce (662-627-6149; www.clarksdaletourism.com ) - We may have heard of additional options.
LULA, MISSISSIPPI - At foot of bridge from Lula, MS to Helena, AR; 25-30 min. from Clarksdale:
WHY JUST SPEND THE NIGHT? MOVE HERE (just like Mr. Cat Head) OR BUY AN INVESTMENT PROPERTY TO RENT OUT WHEN YOU'RE NOT VISITING (like several other out-of-staters):
Fiser Realty - http://fiseragency.com/
Gooden - http://www.goodenagencies.com/
Middleton - http://www.middletonrealtyinc.com/
* Delma Furniss Mississippi Welcome Center in Lula will help you find/book a hotel room in Coahoma County or across the river in Helena - 662.337.2305.
MORE ACCOMMODATIONS INFO AT http://visitclarksdale.com/food-lodging/lodging
Tunica (small 'Main Street' town), MS - South of Tunica/Robinsonville; 40 min. north of Clarksdale.
* Once Upon a Time Bed & Breakfast (1149 Main St.), 662-363-3217
* Hotel Marie (1195 Main St.), 662-363-0100
Tunica (Robinsonville), MS - Gaming/casino area; 40-45 min. north of Clarksdale.
* Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau (can assist with recommendations), 662-363-3800
* Royal Inn & Suites (3515 Hwy 61 N), 662-363-1532
* Holiday Inn Express (4250 Casino Center Dr.), 662-363-0030
* Key West Inn (Hwy 61 North), 662-363-0021
* King's Quarters (Robinson-Com Rd.), 662-363-5955
* Tunica Levee Inn (1070 Riverview Dr.), 662-363-2002
* Tunica Motel (1011 Hwy 61 North), 662-363-2932
* Harrah's Tunica Hotel & Casino
* Sam's Town Hotel & Casino
* Hollywood Casino
* Horseshoe Tunica Casino
* Gold Strike Resort & Casino
* Fitzgerald's Casino & Hotel
Cleveland, MS - Home of Delta State U.; near Dockery Farms; 40 min. south of Clarksdale.
* Days Inn - 662-846-5404
* Colonial Inn - 662-843-3641
* Comfort Inn - 662-843-4060
* Hampton Inn - 662-846-1525
* Holiday Inn Express - 662-843-9300
* Western Motel - 662-843-6908
* Delta Inn - 662-846-1873
* Molly's B&B - 662-843-9913
* The Conner House - 662-843-0756
* Cleveland Inn - 662-846-1411
Batesville, MS - Strip malls, restaurants, hotels; near Hwy 55; 45-50 min. from Clarksdale.
* Comfort Inn 601-563-1188
* Days Inn 601-563-4999
* Ramada Limited 601-563-4528
* Amerihost Inn 601-563-6592
* Hampton Inn 601-578-5555
* Skyline Motel 601-563-7671
Greenwood, MS - Close to three Robert Johnson grave markers; 50-60 min from Clarksdale.
* Alluvian Hotel (luxury hotel), 662-453-2114
* Tallahatchie Flats (renovated shacks), 662-453-1854
Oxford, MS - Home of U of Miss ("Ole Miss") and Living Blues 'Blues Archive'; 60 min. from Clarksdale.
* University of Mississippi Hotel Network, http://olemiss.universityhotelnetwork.com/
Helena/West Helena, Arkansas (hotels/motels) - Home of Delta Cultural Center; 30-35 min. from Clarksdale.
* Super 7 Motel (1007 MLK Dr., right across Miss-Ark bridge from Lula, Ms), 800-753-9701
* Best Western Inn (1053 W Hwy 49), 870-572-2592
* Motel 6 West Helena (1207 US 49 & Sharon St.), 870-572-7915
* Downtown Inn 870-338-9125
* Delta Inn 870-572-7915
* Harbor Inn 870-572-2597
* Holiday Star 870-572-3717
* Sands 870-572-6774
Helena, Arkansas (historic bed & breakfasts) - Home of Delta Cultural Center; 30-35 min. from Clarksdale.
* Edwardian Inn, 870-338-9155
* Magnolia Hills, 870-338-6874
* Foxglove Bed & Breakfast, 870-338-9391
* Stone Ridge Inns I, 870 338-9390 or 870 338-9044
* Stone Ridge Inns II, 870 338-9390 or 870 338-9044
* Harvest House Bed & Breakfast Brinkley, AR, 870-734-1281
Helena's campgrounds & R.V. Parks - Click here for King Biscuit camping info.
* Riverpark Campground/RV Park located 2 blocks from King Biscuit festival at the Mississippi River Park. 870 338-9047
2. GUIDE TO CLARKSDALE, MISS. — Where to play!
7 nights of blues EVERY WEEK in Clarksdale! Typical weekly music (mostly blues) schedule by night/venue: MON @ Bluesberry Cafe & Hopson Commissary. TUES @ Hambone Art & Music. WED @ Red's Lounge & Ground Zero Blues Club. THUR @ Ground Zero Blues Club & Stone Pony plus sometimes Red’s Lounge or Shack Up Inn. FRI @ Red’s Lounge, Ground Zero Blues Club & sometimes Shack Up Inn. SAT @ Bluesberry Cafe (blues breakfast), Red’s Lounge, Ground Zero Blues Zero, Hopson Commissary & sometimes Shack Up Inn. SUN @ (blues breakfast), Levon's Bar & Grill (afternoon), Red’s Lounge & sometimes Shack Up Inn. PLUS, New Roxy, Grandma's Pancake House & Blues Club, Delta Blues Alley Cafe,, Club 2000 and other venues feature occasional live music as well! (See MUSIC CALENDAR web page on this web site for details.)
WANT MORE CLARKSDALE INFO? Check out our local newspaper: www.pressregister.com
Abe's Bar-B-Q restaurant - BBQ at the 61/49 crossroads. 616-1/2 N State St., (662) 624-9947.
(The) Bank Building - Big, beautiful, historic building available for parties, receptions and special events. Large main room, smaller room and patio area. Kitchen, restrooms, etc. Call Bubba O'Keefe today at 662-645-8874 for more information. Corner of E. 2nd St. & Yazoo Ave.
Big Pink Guest House - In addition to overnight accommodations, The Big Pink is a great setting for private parties, weddings, receptions and meetings. Side patio facing the front of the Blues Museum’s stage for private viewing of festivals and music events being held on the stage. For info/reservations: email@example.com 251-490-9703. In the old pink brick building on John Lee Hooker Lane near the Museum.
Birdsong Tours - Custom local tours to fit your needs.... Blues/historical/agricultural. Contact Robert Birdsong at firstname.lastname@example.org, 662-645-6061 or 662-624-6051 ... and tell him Cat Head sent ya.
Blues Hound Flat - A cool, new place to stay in Clarksdale. A hip flat (apartment) located within easy walking distance of downtown blues clubs, museums and stores. Rental info, photos and rates at www.blueshoundflat.com.
Bluesberry Cafe - Florida-transplants Art and Carol offer live blues music every Monday (Often Watermelon Slim or Sean “Bad” Apple) PLUS Blues Breakfast Fri/Sat/Sun (7:30am breakfast; 10am live blues). Call for more info. 235 Yazoo Ave. (662) 627-7008.
Bluestown Music - Cool, independently-owned vintage guitar and instrument store that features a small recording studio in back. Mon.-Fri., Noon-5pm. Sat., 10am-5pm. 317 Delta Ave. (662) 645-1816.
Cab service - Jerry’s Cab, 662-624-9222. Jolly Cab, 662-624-9256. (Also, see Delta Bohemian Excursions below.) If staying at Shack Up Inn, ask if Barry is available for shuttling. At Hopson Commissary, as about the Redneck Limo. If visiting Ground Zero Blues Club, ask about their limo.
Carnegie Public Library - Features a special Mississippi Room, local Indian Archeological Exhibit and free computer access! (Also, ask to look through Linton Weeks' out-of-print "History of Clarksdale & Coahoma County".) www.cplclarksdale.lib.ms.us
CAT HEAD DELTA BLUES & FOLK ART (You're on our web site right now.) - Called "1 of 17 Coolest Record Stores in America" (Paste magazine), "Keeping the Blues Alive Award" recipient (retail category) and "Blues Music Award" winner. Specializing in great blues CDs, DVDs, books, magazines, T-shirts and much much more. Plus, affordable blues and folk art. "Sounds Around Town" chalkboard with weekly music and event updates - just call, drop by or visit our web page. "Live" music and book signings in store occasionally... including free "Cat Head's Mini Blues Fests" out in the street after Sunflower River, King Biscuit and Juke Joint Blues Festivals (please tip the musicians!). Email Roger to be added to regular Delta Update e-list. Open Mon.-Sat., 10am-5pm; Sun. by chance/appointment. 252 Delta Ave. Phone/fax (662) 624-5992, email@example.com, www.cathead.biz
CAT HEAD PRESENTS... record label - Pick up Big George Brock's Club Caravan, Round Two or Live At Seventy Five CDs as well as his Hard Times DVD ... and step back in time ... to the days of the big Muddy/Wolf/Reed/Sonny Boy II sound. Multiple Blues Music Award and Living Blues Award nominations. ALSO, check out : M For Mississippi: A Road Trip through the Birthplace of the Blues and We Juke Up In Here: Mississippi’s Juke Joint Culture at the Crossroads (joint productions of Cat Head and Broke & Hungry Records) -- click image above to view trailers or purchase..
MORE CAT HEAD STUFF... Down In The Delta magazine column and Sirius-XM Satellite Radio "Bluesville" update - Check out Cat Head's regular column in Blues Revue Magazine and weekly on-air call-in with Sirius-XM Radio's Bill Wax at 4pm CST on most Thursdays.
Clarksdale Film Festival - The last weekend in January (Thurs-Sun)! Over two dozen films and more celebrating our region's music, culture and people... at Delta Cinema and other great Clarksdale venues. Plus, many filmmaker introductions/Q&As, etc. Includes movie history bus tours (Sat) and related live blues every night. Organized by same folks who put on the annual Juke Joint Festival. Details at web site (click fest name).
Clarksdale.com - Find current Clarksdale news, information and links. Lots of fest ads... Thanks Larry. See for yourself!
ClarksdaleInfo.com - “Clarksdale’s Home Page.” Virtual clearinghouse of Clarksdale news, information and links. You can also watch videoed City and County meetings here. Check it out!
https://www.facebook.com/RevitalizeClarksdale/ - The official Facebook page of Clarksdale Revitalization nonprofit.
VisitClarksdale.com - It's the web site of Clarksdale & Coahoma County Tourism (located on Hwy 49). Thanks Kappi.
Clark House Residential Inn - Spend the night in the home of the founder of Clarkdale -- John Clark. Beautiful, comfortable inn... just two blocks from our vibrant downtown entertainment district. 211 Clark Street. 662-621-1632. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Club 2000 - Club 2000 is a tiny juke joint on Issaquena, near the New Roxy. Occasional live blues... mostly at blues festival times. (Former home base for the late street musician known at “Mr. Tater.”)
Cotton Gin Inn/Shack-up Inn - Rustic former plantation with numerous old buildings and sharecropper shacks... plus an old Cotton Gin full of rooms... sometimes-music venue, etc. Updated with A.C., heat, showers, microwaves, etc. A favorite of regular folks, musicians and movie stars alike! Make reservations on line or call. Off of Old Hwy. 49, 662-624-8329 (Shackup/Cotton Gin Inn).
"Crossroads" Monument - A favorite tourist stop. Hwy. 61 at 49 in Clarksdale. (There's an older crossing of Old Hwy. 61 & 49 at the intersection of East Tallahatchie and Martin Luther King Drive in the old New World District near downtown.)
Cutrer Mansion (Coahoma County Higher Education Center) - Large, historic mansion available for weddings, parties, workshops, conferences and other engagements -- in addition to its role as a higher education center. 109 Clark St., 662-627-3016.
Delta Cotton Company Apartments above Ground Zero Blues Club (very cool) available for daily/weekly rental; call Toni or Ashley at 662-645-9366 for apartment info -- and tell her that Cat Head sent ya. Club info: 0 Blues Alley, (662) 621-9009, www.groundzerobluesclub.com lists coming acts.
Delta Blues Museum in historic train depot- The world’s first blues museum opened in 1979. Muddy Waters’ addition opened in 2012. Muddy Waters' cabin, signed guitars, blues photos and gift shop. A must-see! Mon.-Sat., 9am-5pm, Mar.-Sept.; Mon.-Fri., 10am-5pm, Oct.-Feb.). 662-627-6820. 1 Blues Alley, www.deltabluesmuseum.org
Delta Bohemian Guest House/Clarksdale White House - Sold to some nice folks as a residence, so PERMANENTLY CLOSED as of JULY 2020.
Delta Bohemian Tours - Terrific tours via Chilly Billy and his red Jeep. Highly recommended history tours and more available. Click link for pricing and options, or call Chilly Billy Howell at 662-701-5020.
Delta Digs - The Squeeze Box, Delta Digs and The Hooker Hotel (as in “John Lee Hooker”) are three side by side, unattached apartments, operated by the same fine folks. Super cool, funky decor in the heart of downtown. Click link or call John at 732 740-6155.
Delta Jubilee festival - The Chamber of Commerce puts this on in early June each year. Expect carnival rides, visiting food vendors and rock (w/occasional blues or country) music. Details at www.clarksdaletourism.com
(The) Den - The Den is a cool music/event space with an apartment upstairs and private parking in back. Owned by Theo and Cindy of the Rock & Blues Museum fame. 220 Yazoo Ave., Clarksdale, MS — FOR SALE, email email@example.com.
Early Wright's gravesite - Resting place of one of the South's most famous DJ's. Heavenly Rest Cemetery, Lyon, MS, just north of Clarksdale on hwy. 61. (Unfortunately, the grave lacks headstone at present.)
(former) Greyhound Bus Station - Restored at the corner of 3rd and Issaquena.
Ground Zero Blues Club - Co-owned by actor Morgan Freeman. Live music (mostly blues) from Wed-Sat every week -- plus Sunday blues brunch during festival weekends. Also, fully furnished Delta Cotton Co. Apartments rooms above; call 662-645-9366 for apartment info. Club info: 0 Blues Alley, (662) 621-9009, www.groundzerobluesclub.com lists coming acts.
Hambone Festival - Started in October 2007 by musician/artist Stan Street (see below). Held annually on Halloween weekend.
Hambone Art & Music - Blues art gallery & bar owned by musician Stan Street; features live blues every Tuesday evening at 8pm. 111 East Second.
Henry "Son" Sims grave site - Buried in Bell Grove Cemetery.
Hick's BBQ - Great food, including wonderful BBQ and Delta-style hot tamales. Drive through window for lunch and dinner to go. Knock on door to eat in. Across from the America’s Best Value Inn on State St. (Hwy. 161 in town).
Levon’s Bar & Grill (232 Sunflower, downtown) - Super-cool, Clarksdale bar & grill (Aussie owned & operated) with live music on Sunday afternoons and some other evenings PLUS full bar and menu; near clubs and accommodations in historic downtown.
(The) Hooker Hotel - The Squeeze Box, Delta Digs and The Hooker Hotel (as in “John Lee Hooker”) are three side by side, unattached apartments, operated by the same fine folks. Super cool, funky decor in the heart of downtown. Click link or call John at 732 740-6155.
Hopson Plantation/Commissary/THE LOFT - Rustic old plantation commissary w/occasional music events, including the annual
"Pinetop Perkins Celebration" each October. ALSO, stay at... THE LOFT at Hopson wonderful overnight accommodations that are very cool. www.hopsonplantation.com web site or call 662-902-3866 to book it for a night, a week or whatever. 8141 Old Hwy. 49, 624-5756 (Hopson Commissary/Loft only).
Hotels in Clarksdale & vicinity - See our complete "Accommodations" listing above. Note that festival weekends book up WAY EARLY(!!), so book rooms as far in advance as possible. If you can't find a room for a fest week, reserve the best/closest room you CAN find, and then get on waiting lists for Comfort Inn, Executive Inn, etc. Folks book so far out for festivals that rooms often open up as the event draws near. If you need recommendations for places to stay, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Cat Head store at 662-624-4992. (If you need someone to find/reserve a room for you, please contact the Delma Furniss Mississippi Welcome Center in nearby Lula, MS.)
Ike Turner's home - Where the Father of Rock 'n Roll grew up. 304 Washington St.
Isle of Capri Entertainment Resort in Lula, MS. - "Visit our tropical paradise with three great restaurants, two hotels, a great showroom meeting rooms and two great casinos with 24 hour live action. Call 1-800-789-5825 for more information."
Juke Joint Fesival & Related Events - Awesome, low-cost annual event to be held Thurs night thru Sun night, April 20-23 in 2017 (Fest on Sat. w/related events that Thurs., Fri. & Sun.) that combines a real-deal blues festival with a traditional small town fair. Fun, family events like pig races, a petting zoo and history bus tours of Clarksdale ... plus great "live" real-deal blues music, tasty Delta food and good ole Southern hospitality during the day. Authentic "lock up your daughters" Delta blues played in old time juke joints at night. For the nighttime portion, we book local/regional acts into 20+ great blues clubs/jukes w/25+ acts! Over 100 blues acts perform over the weekend. Then, we rent a couple buses and drivers to take you around to them and back to your hotel... All for just the price of a pre-sale wristband. Pretty sweet. Book your rooms early for this one. Details and photos from last year on the web site. (662) 624-5992 for info. ALSO, there will be plenty "live" blues in the clubs, etc. on that Friday night and another free CAT HEAD'S MINI BLUES FEST out front of Cat Head on that Sunday.
Kathryn's on Moon Lake - So, o.k. it's not exactly IN Clarksdale, but it is nearby at Moon Lake -- a scenic and historic location. Steaks and seafood are the specialties of the house. 5770 Moon Lake Rd. 662-337-2962.
THE LOFT at Hopson Plantation - THE LOFT at Hopson... new overnight accommodations that are very cool. Go to www.hopsonplantation.com web site or call 662-902-3866 to book it for a night, a week or whatever. 8141 Old Hwy. 49, 624-5756 (Hopson Commissary/Loft only).
The Lofts At The Five & Dime - Gorgeous, nearly 1,000 sq. ft. luxury condo apts located conveniently downtown in Clarksdale -- above the old Woolworth's building (now the tasty Yazoo Pass restaurant. Rooms include master suite w/king bed, full kitchen/living room w/queen sleep sofa and more. Six units total. Yazoo Ave & E. 2nd St. Click web link above for details or reservations, or call Bubba O'Keefe at 662-645-8874. Yazoo Pass restaurant is located below the Lofts and open 6 days a week.
Mac's Lounge - Robert Mugge's 1991 blues documentary "Deep Blues" featured Big Jack Johnson performing here when it was called the Pastime Lounge. Mac's does NOT feature "live" blues, however. 426 Desoto Ave.
Messenger's - Perhaps the oldest, continously running business in Clarksdale, Messengers is a tight ship run by Mr. George Messenger. It's part pool hall and domino den... and part café and juke joint. Drop in for a beer and a sandwich and watch for occasional blues shows. 2005 was a big year for the venue. It was featured in an award-winning documentary, a feature article in the Clarion-Ledger and one of the hottest spots in town during the Juke Joint Festival (when Jimbo Mathus and the boys tore up the place!). On MLK Drive (4th St.) between Sunflower and Yazoo.
Mississippi Blues Trail - Over 190 wonderful Blues Trail markers throughout Mississippi & the world -- with several markers in Clarksdale and Coahoma County for Ike Turner, Sam Cooke, WROX Radio, Muddy Waters, Riverside Hotel, Livin' In Lula....! Not to be missed. Web site also has live music calendar.
MOONSHINE & MOJO HANDS aka "the first blues reality show" - www.moonshineandmojohands.com - Pay up your insurance, get your tetanus shot... and join your hosts Roger Stolle & Jeff Konkel on a wild, weekly road-trip through the Land of the Crossroads in search of blues characters, Southern culture and the occasional sip of moonshine, y’all!
Muddy's Mound - Former site of Muddy Water's famous cabin on Stovall Plantation. A marker on the site tells the story and includes this quote from Eric Clapton, "Muddy Waters' music changed my life, and whether you know it or not, and like it or not, it probably changed yours, too." ALSO, there is now a State Blues Trail Marker at the Mound. The cotton fields still thrive behind the site.
New Roxy - Historic live performance/former-movie theater in the New World District of Clarksdale (Issaquena Ave.). The New Roxy is now an AWESOME open-roof, walled amphitheater that features live music during festival weekends and special events. It is quite possibly the coolest live music venue the the South!!! Check it out if you can!
Our GrandMa’s House of Pancakes - Tasty breakfast, lunch and more at former Oxbow location. 115 Third St. 662-592-5290.
Quapaw Canoe Company - Join artist/musician/adventurer John "Riverman" Ruskey on a canoe trip on the mighty Mississippi! Simply amazing. As short or long as you care to make the trip. Affordable and memorable. 291 Sunflower Avenue, 662.627.4070. email@example.com
Ramon's Restaurant - A hidden little gem (a couple blocks from where the Cat Head's live). Simple but excellent fare in an atmosphere straight out of the 1970s. Fried seafood, chicken livers, crawfish in season. Look for a mention in Gourmet magazine (late summer 2005). 535 Oakhurst St. (662) 624-9230.
Ranchero Restaurant - A popular family institution here in town. Folks call it "The Ranch." The menu includes BBQ, fried seafood and salad bar. 1907 State St. (662) 624-9768
Red's Lounge - Excellent local juke joint -- featured in doc “We Juke Up In Here”. Sure it looks closed and/or scary, but it is actually just a big ole wonderful house party. Open some weekday nights and all weekends with "live" blues some weekends with live blues EVERY WEDNESDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY NIGHT plus some Thursdays. Special events during festival time. If you come to Clarksdale, you simply MUST visit Big Red at his killer juke! Regulars (in past) include T-Model Ford, Robert Belfour, Big T, Lightnin' Malcolm, Big A, Bilbo Walker, etc. 395 Sunflower Ave. (Corner of MLK Dr./4th St. and Sunflower.) Contact Cat Head at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Rest Haven - A Lebanese-owned Clarksdale institution, the Rest Haven is kind of like dinner that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The difference is that you are offered a mix of Lebanese, Italian and downhome Delta items on the menu. Nice folks. 419 State St. (662) 624-8601
Roger Stolle - See "Stolle, Roger" directly below.
Riverside Hotel - Site of African-American hospital where Bessie Smith died in 1937. Ike Turner, Robert Nighthawk, Sonny Boy II, Pop Staples, John Lee Hooker and John F. Kennedy, Jr. all stayed or lived here after it became a hotel/boardinghouse. (There used to be a late-night club called "The Subway" in the basement, too!) Founded on Oct. 11, 1944 and currently run by the always accommodating Frank "Rat" Ratliff. Rat's been spending a lot of time renovating some adjacent structures, lately... So look for more accommodations to be available soon. 615 Sunflower Ave., (662) 624-9163. ALSO, there is now a State Blues Trail Marker at the Riverside.
Rock & Blues Museum - Theo and his wife Cindy moved here from the Netherlands (via Memphis), and opened a very cool museum seven-plus years ago. Packed full of music memorabilia from the 1920’s through the 1970‘s. Follow the evolution of America’s music from blues, R&B, and rockabilly to rock ‘n roll and soul and see how it influenced people all over the globe. Includes rare blues 78 records and more! TUESDAY thru SATURDAY 11am to 5pm. Sunday and Monday by appointment, call 901-605-8662. 113 E. Second St.
Sam Cooke's home location - Soul music's legendary Sam Cooke was born in Clarksdale in 1931. Corner of 7th St. and Illinois Ave.
Sarah's Kitchen - Once located at 208 Sunflower Ave., downton, and later moved to 278 Sunflower Ave., Sarah's Kitchen was an institution for visiting blues fans and locals alike. Founded and run by the late "Miss Sarah" Moore, the juke joint kitchen was taken over by her daughter after her passing in late 2009. It is now closed... though not forgotten. The "Miss Sarah Award" was founded in 2010 in honor of this special lady and her world-famous juke; it is awarded each April during the Juke Joint Festival.
Shack-up Inn/Cotton Gin Inn - Rustic former plantation with numerous old buildings and sharecropper shacks... plus an old Cotton Gin full of rooms... sometimes-music venue, etc. Updated with A.C., heat, showers, microwaves, etc. A favorite of regular folks, musicians and movie stars alike! Make reservations on line or call. Off of Old Hwy. 49, 662-624-8329 (Shackup/Cotton Gin Inn).
Smitty's Red Top Lounge - Photos of this legendary juke were featured on both a Jelly Roll King's LP and a Super Chikan CD since both used to play here. Closed but for sale. Move to C'dale and open a cool juke joint. 377 Yazoo Ave.
(The) Squeeze Box, Delta Digs and The Hooker Hotel (as in “John Lee Hooker”) are three side by side, unattached apartments, operated by the same fine folks. Super cool, funky decor in the heart of downtown. Click link or call John at 732 740-6155.
Stackhouse Record Mart/Rooster Blues - CLOSED.... Former record store and site of the Rooster Blues recording studio back in the 1990s. (It's the old Cream Boat ice cream building.) 232 Sunflower Ave. UPDATE: Building has been renovated and is now Dreamboat BBQ & Tamales!
Stone Pony - Excellent, local pizza and sandwich shop with full bar and weekday lunch specials. Music Friday evenings. Just down the street from Cat Head. 226 Delta Avenue, 662.624.PONY.
Stolle, Roger - Founder/owner of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art store and Cat Head Presents recording label in Clarksdale. Co-founder/organizer of Juke Joint Festival and Clarksdale Film Festival. Co-founder of Three Forks Music label group. Also, Blues Revue/Blues Music Magazine columnist, Hidden History of Mississippi Blues book author, XM/Sirius Bluesville radio correspondant, former WROX blues radio deejay, Clarksdale Downtown Development Association board member, Blues Foundation member, Keeping the Blues Alive Award and Blues Music Award recipient, blues PR/Marketing specialist, film/record producer, blues tour guide, international blues bookings, former Ground Zero Blues Club and Sunflower River Blues Fest music coordinator, etc.
Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival - FREE annual event with over two dozen years under its blues belt. Includes many of our great local blues and gospel bands plus some Mississippi-connected headliners on a couple stages. See web site for details. As a bonus, all of the area clubs and juke joints run that weekend, and Cat Head coordinates a big, free CAT HEAD'S MINI BLUES FEST all day on that Sunday with tents, chairs and half a dozen acts out front of the store.
Taxi service - Jerry’s Cab, 662-624-9222. Jolly Cab, 662-624-9256. (Also, see Delta Bohemian Excursions Pedicab above.) If staying at Shack Up Inn, ask if Barry is available for shuttling. At Hopson Commissary, as about the Redneck Limo. If visiting Ground Zero Blues Club, ask about their limo.
Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival - Annual event that celebrates Clarksdale's literary history with seminars, porch plays and more. Each October. Contact the Coahoma County Higher Education Center or Chamber of Commerce below for info.
Uncle Henry's Place & Inn - As of this writing, Uncle Henry’s is closed due to the untimely passing of its proprietor, the wonderful George Wright. RIP, our friend. (Questions - 662-337-2757).
Vincent Productions - See "Ground Zero Blues Club Music" above.
VisitClarksdale.com - The official Clarksdale & Coahamoa County Tourism web site! You can visit our local friends at Tourism in the old restored Clarksdale Train Depot (Third & Issaquena, downtown by the RR track). (Chamber of Commerce is separate entity at 1540 Desoto Ave., 662-627-7337.)
VisitMississippi.org - The official Mississippi state tourism web site...
VisitTheDelta.com - Mississippi Delta tourism web site with lots 'o good info.
Wade Walton's Barbershop - Clarksdale's famous blues barber not only cut the hair of Ike Turner, Sonny Boy Williamson II and others, he also recorded blues for both local and international labels. His small white building at 317 Issaquena Ave. is still decorated with his name. (Note: His original shop was at 304 4th Street.)
Wade Walton's gravesite - McLaurin Gardens cemetery, Lyon, MS, just north of Clarksdale on hwy. 61. Nice headstone.
W.C. Handy home marker - The so-called "Father of the Blues" lived here in the early 1900s when he first heard the blues in nearby Tutwiler. On Issaquena, near Wade Walton's barbershop.
We Juke Up In Here - The follow-up film to the award-winning blues documentary M For Mississippi. M for Mississippi producers Roger Stolle and Jeff Konkel return (along with Damien Blaylock, Bill Abel and Lou Bopp) for an off-the-hook foray into the Delta's quasi-legal juke joint culture -- a way of life that is on the edge of a 21st Century abyss and looking down. Order today at www.wejukeupinhere.com and see video trailer. Premiere was at Delta Cinema in Clarksdale during Juke Joint Festival, April 2012.
W.R.O.X. museum a.k.a. Clarkdale History & Cultural Museum - Opening in the future... inside the site of the W.R.O.X. blues radio station, circa 1946 to 1953. Early Wright, Ike Turner and Robert Nighthawk all had shows here, plus Elvis, Sam Cooke and Sonny Boy Williamson II were all on the air there at some point in time. 257 Delta Ave.
Yazoo Pass - Large coffee shop and restaurant in former Woolworth location (under Lofts at Five & Dime), featuring Clarksdale first “real” salad bar and excellent espresso-based drinks. Open breakfast thru dinner, Mon-Sat. 207 Yazoo Ave., 662-627-8686, www.yazoopass.com.
LOVE CLARKSDALE, MISSISSIPPI? SUPPORT ITS NON-PROFITS:
- Juke Joint Festival - www.jukejointfestival.com
- Sunflower River Blues Festival - www.sunflowerfest.org
- Delta Blues Museum and its Arts & Education Program -
- Rock & Blues Museum - www.blues2rock.com
- Clarksdale Revitalization - www.revitalizeclarksdale.com
- Griot Arts (after school program) - www.griotarts.com
- Spring Initiative (after school program) - www.spring-initiative.com
- Friends of the Library at Carnegie Public Library - http://www.cplclarksdale.lib.ms.us/
- Clarksdale Care Station (meals) - www.facebook.com/ClarksdaleCareStation
3. TOURS & TRANSPORTATION — Sightsee or just get there!
Clarksdale-based Delta blues & history tour guides:
- DELTA BOHEMIAN TOURS (Clarksdale, MS) - Chilly Billy Howell, email@example.com; 662-701-5020; www.deltabohemiantours.com
- BIRDSONG TOURS (Clarksdale) - Robert Birdsong, Mississippimojo@yahoo.com
Other regional blues & history tours:
- TOURING THE DELTA (Clarksdale) - Cassandra Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 662-313-8528
- THE REAL DELTA TOURS (Cleveland, MS) - Abe Hudson, email@example.com
- AMERICAN DREAM SAFARI TOURS (Memphis, TN) - Tad Pierson and his pink Caddy, firstname.lastname@example.org
- BLUES CITY TOURS (Memphis) - http://www.bluescitytours.com/delta-blues-tour.php (901-522-9229 or email@example.com)
- BLUE NOTE TOURS (Memphis) - (402) 750-8483 or (315) 886-9744; http://www.bluenotetoursllc.com
- HOOVER TOURS (Greenwood, MS) - http://hoovertours.homestead.com/home.html
Clarksdale "cab"/basic transportation:
- CDRY CAB SERVICES (Cassandra Wilson), firstname.lastname@example.org, 662-313-8528
- JOLLY CAB (Clarksdale's oldest cabbie) - 662-624-9256
- PART-TIME SHUTTLE SERVICE - Robin L. drives between Memphis Airport, Marks train station and Clarksdale bus station... and your local hotel; contact in advance to arrange - 662-444-6164 (text/call), email@example.com
- DELTA RIDES (other regional transportation info) - https://www.aehchc.org/darts/delta-rides/
Other local/regional transportation:
- DELTA BUS LINES (including stop in Clarksdale) - www.deltabuslines.net
- AMTRAK TRAIN (stops in Marks, 20-min from Clarksdale) - www.amtrak.com
- RENTAL CAR - Enterprise Car Rental (Clarksdale) - 662-621-9348, https://www.enterprise.com/en/car-rental/locations/us/ms/clarksdale-55ca.html
4. MISSISSIPPI BLUES ROAD TRIP — Visitor’s guide.
MISSISSIPPI BLUES TOUR GUIDE
Check out this digital issue of Living Blues magazine for a statewide blues tour:
MISSISSIPPI BLUES TRAIL
Go here for updates: www.msbluestrail.org
Join the Mississippi Blues Commission, friends, fans and family as the Mississippi's music trails celebrate their latest markers. Go to the web link OR get their free phone app for over a hundred markers spread throughout Mississippi... and beyond.
What follows is a very basic list of sites and sounds, web sites and publications – the basics of how and where to start your voyage. Plan ahead, but don’t wait. Mississippi, and the Delta specifically, is not Disneyland or corporate America. There are no guarantees of its blues future. Living dinosaurs eventually die, and sagging juke joint roofs eventually cave in. Pick a week or weekend (since most live blues is on Friday and Saturday nights), catch a plane or car, and make your own history in Mississippi.
-Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art – blues CDs, DVDs, books, magazines, apparel, artwork and more; chalkboard lists local happenings (www.cathead.biz).
-Delta Blues Museum – Delta’s first blues museum, founded in 1979; remnants of Muddy Waters childhood home and more (www.deltabluesmuseum.org).
-Rock & Blues Museum – overflowing with vintage blues and rock memorabilia; run by enthusiastic Dutch record collector (www.blues2rock.com).
-Clarksdale Visitor’s Station – housed in historic, downtown Greyhound Bus Station; run by Clarksdale Revitalization, Inc. (www.clarksdalenow.org).
-Clarksdale & Coahoma County Tourism –local tourism office provides visitor information; rents camping facility at Expo Center (www.visitclarksdale.com).
-The Crossroads – a ceremonial marker at the former intersections of highways 61 and 49 in honor of the Robert Johnson “deal at the crossroads” mythology.
-Ground Zero Blues Club –co-owned by actor Morgan Freeman with live blues Wednesday to Saturday nights (www.groundzerobluesclub.com).
-Red’s Lounge – arguably the greatest of the surviving, live music juke joint in the Delta; like stepping back in time; events listed at www.cathead.biz.
-Blues Trail Markers – Clarksdale and Coahoma County are home to over half a dozen markers honoring legends like Son House, Ike Turner and Muddy Waters.
-Walk of Fame – a handful of sidewalk plaques spread around downtown honor Clarksdale’s music, literary, civil rights and sports legends.
-Juke Joint Festival & Related Events –half blues festival, half small-town fair; outdoor by day, in jukes at night; held in mid-April (www.jukejointfestival.com).
-Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival – town’s oldest blues festival features mainly Mississippi-connected acts in early August (www.sunflowerfest.org).
-Other local festivals include – Clarksdale Film Festival (last weekend in January), Clarksdale Caravan Music Festival (Saturday following Blues Music Awards in Memphis), Hambone Festival (Saturday of Halloween weekend) and three Cat Head Mini Blues Fests per year (April, August, October).
-Other points of interest – WROX Museum and Aaron Cotton Company Museum (both open by appointment); Hambone Gallery, Bluesberry Café, Madidi, Rust, Delta Amusement Café, Messenger’s, Club 2000, Juke Joint Chapel and New Roxy (all with occasional live blues); Muddy Waters home site at Stovall Farm; Hopson Commissary and the Shackup Inn.
-W.C. Handy site – former location of train station where Handy first heard the blues, circa 1903; a wall mural and two historical markers memorialize the spot.
-Sonny Boy Williamson II gravesite – final resting place of blues harmonica great.
-Robert Johnson gravesite #1 – larger obelisk gravestone with generous writing and photo placed at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church by Columbia Records and Mt. Zion Memorial Fund, circa 1990; outside Greenwood near Morgan City.
-Robert Johnson gravesite #2 – small, flat gravestone placed at Payne Chapel Missionary Baptist Church cemetery in 1991; outside Greenwood near Quito.
-Robert Johnson gravesite #3 – two-sided gravestone includes an alleged Johnson handwriting sample; placed at Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church cemetery in 2002; generally accepted as burial site; near Greenwood (www.msbluestrail.org).
-Blues Trail markers – Robert Johnson and Baptist Town.
-Festival events – past events have included the River to Rails Festival, Cotton Capitol Blues Festival and Mississippi Crossroads Festival (www.gcvb.com).
-Other points of interest – Alluvian Hotel and Tallahatchie Flats; Crystal Grill and Lusco’s Restaurant; Viking Range Corporation.
-B.B. King Museum – hi-tech museum dedicated to blues history and B.B. King’s life; includes theater, artifacts and interactive displays (www.bbkingmuseum.org).
-Club Ebony – nearly 70-year-old blues, jazz and R&B club; offers music many Sunday nights; B.B. King performs yearly during his annual homecoming.
-308 Blues Club – blues on most weekends (www.308bluesclubandcafe.com).
-Other points of interest – The Blue Biscuit (www.thebluebiscuit.com) and Gin Mill Mall (both with occasional live blues); The Crown Restaurant.
-Highway 61 Blues Museum – wonderfully low-tech and local; often bluesman Pat Thomas drops by to play for tourist tips (www.highway61blues.com).
-Highway 61 Blues Festival – every June, the museum puts on a downtown festival specializing in homegrown Delta blues.
-Downtown blues murals – ask at the museum then drive around to see them.
-Blues Trail markers – James “Son” Thomas and Johnny Winter.
-Other points of interest – Jim Henson Museum and Lillo’s Restaurant.
-Walnut Street Blues Bar – mostly blues on most weekends.
-Nelson Street – formerly Greenville’s “Beale Street” (blues district) back in the day; worth a daytime drive by, but there is no live blues anymore.
-Blues Trail markers – Nelson Street and Freedom Village.
-Other points of interest – Doe’s Eat Place.
-Blues Trail marker – commemorating Robert Johnson’s often-covered mention of Rosedale in his classic song, “Traveling Riverside Blues.”
-Great River Road State Park – closed.
-Other points of interest – White Front Café.
-Po Monkey’s Lounge (north, near Merigold) – closed.
-Dockery Plantation (east on Highway 8) – once home to blues greats like Charley Patton, Howlin’ Wolf and Pop Staples.
-Blues Trail markers – Dockery Plantation and Chrisman Street.
-Other points of interest – Airport Grocery and Delta State University.
-Howlin’ Wolf Museum – only museum dedicated to Wolf, born nearby.
-Howlin’ Wolf Festival – Labor Day weekend (Friday) festival dedicated to Howlin’ Wolf and featuring musicians who knew him or were inspired by him.
-Blues Trail markers – Howlin’ Wolf.
-930 Blues Café – most reliable local blues and R&B club (www.jesdablues.com).
-Queen of Hearts – local juke joint with weekend music.
-Farish Street – Jackson’s equivalent to “Beale Street” back in the day; current home to F. Jones Corner (blues club).
-Blues Trail markers – home to several markers, including recording labels Malaco and Trumpet as well as musicians Bobby Rush and Ishman Bracey.
-Festival events – Mississippi Blues Marathon (January), Crossroads Film Festival (April), Jubilee Jam (June).
-Other points of interest – Alamo Theater, Old Capitol Museum, Smith Robertson Museum, and Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Helena, Arkansas (across bridge from Lula, Mississippi)
-Delta Cultural Center – Arkansas Delta museum; includes blues history and Mississippi connections (www.deltaculturalcenter.com).
-King Biscuit Time – 90-something “Sunshine” Sonny Payne still broadcasts most weekdays (www.kffa.com).
-King Biscuit Blues Festival – large, early October event that always includes a strong showing by Mississippi blues acts (www.bluesandheritagefest.com).
-Other points of interest – Mississippi Blues Trail marker, Bubba’s Blues Corner, and the side-by-side graves of Robert Nighthawk Cedell Davis and Frank Frost.
MORE MISSISSIPPI BLUES TRAVEL RESOURCES:
For the most up-to-date information, start with the following web sites:
-Mississippi live blues calendar at www.cathead.biz.
-Mississippi Blues Trail marker maps and information at www.msbluestrail.org.
-Mississippi blues updates (and a nice radio show) at www.highway61radio.com.
-Mississippi blues festival list at www.blueshighway.org.
-Mississippi Tourism official web site at www.visitmississippi.org.
-Blues Festival Guide (national listing) at www.bluesfestivalguide.com.
NEW ORLEANS TO CHICAGO TRAVEL RESOURCES:
- New Orleans, LA, music - http://www.offbeat.com/
- Mississippi Blues Trail - http://msbluestrail.org/
- Cat Head's Music Calendar (scroll past Clarksdale) - https://www.cathead.biz/music-calendar
- Cat Head's Guide page (scroll past Clarksdale) - https://www.cathead.biz/clarksdale-guide
- Americana Music Triangle - http://americanamusictriangle.com/
- Mississippi Museums - Delta Blues Museum, Rock & Blues Museum, BB King Museum, Grammy Museum, Highway 61 Blues Museum, Gateway to the Blues Museum... and new double museum for MS History and African American History (both in Jackson); Google them.
- For Jackson, MS, music - http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/music/listings/
- For Memphis, TN, music - https://www.memphisflyer.com/memphis/EventSearch?eventSection=1104304&narrowByDate=Today
- In Memphis (top 3 day stops) - National Civil Rights Museum, Sun Studio and Stax Museum.
- In Nashville, TN, look up Robert's Western World for music (and if a Sunday night, then Santa's).
- For St. Louis, MO, music - https://www.riverfronttimes.com/stlouis/music/Section?oid=2348804
- Great St. Louis blues club (near two other blues clubs) - http://bbsjazzbluessoups.com/
- National Blues Museum (St. Louis) - https://www.nationalbluesmuseum.org/
- For Chicago, IL, music - https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/music/Section?oid=846991
- Chicago blues clubs to check out include... Kingston Mines, Buddy Guy's Legends, B.L.U.E.S, Blue Chicago.
- Chicago's Blues Heaven Foundation aka Chess Records Studio (where everyone from Muddy Waters to the Rolling Stones recorded) - http://www.bluesheaven.com/home.html
Prior to your trip you may want to pick up a good, Mississippi blues guidebook:
-Memphis & the Delta Blues Trail by Justin & Melissa Gage (Countryman Press) – most up-to-date guide to Delta blues scene; important since clubs open and close.
-Blues Traveling by Steve Cheseborough (University of Mississippi Press) – the most comprehensive Mississippi blues travel guide; also a nice pocket history.-Hidden History of Mississippi by Roger Stolle (The History Press) – This is a fast, fun, fact-filled blues history book that makes a great Delta Blues companion on trips to Mississippi!
GET THE FREE FREE FREE “MISSISSIPPI BLUES TRAIL” APP (from whatever app store you use). More info at www.bluestrail.org
(I also recommend that you pick up a decent Mississippi atlas since your GPS mapping system maybe be a little unreliable in the more rural parts of the state.)
5. LIVE BLUES IN DELTA — See "Music Calendar" on this web site.
1. See "Music Calendar" web page on this (Cat Head) site!
2. Also, see "MS Blues Trail" calendar at www.msbluestrail.org
PS - READ BLUES HISTORY AND FUTURE....
You may also want to learn more about blues history – past and present – by subscribing to one of the three main blues magazines in the U.S.:
- Living Blues (www.livingblues.com) - Published first in Chicago but currently in Oxford, Mississippi.
- Big City Blues (www.bigcitybluesmag.com) - Another option, often found free at blues clubs.
Speaking of Blues History, here’s good Blues Education web page to check out:
6. "AM I WELCOME HERE?" — Love blues? We love you.
Are you welcome here? In a word, YES!
Our Mississippi state tourism folks have a slogan — "All Are Welcome." Our local Clarksdale tourism office has another — "Come As You Are!" Our mayor and city commissioners even passed an anti-discrimination proclamation a couple year's back to make it extra clear that today's Clarksdale does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of what you look like, where you come from, who you worship or who you love. Period. (Of course, if you act like a jerk, then we reserve the right to give you a yell.) Our Clarksdale mayor even removed the controversial Mississippi state flag (with its anachronistic Confederate battle flag icon) from City Hall years ago, and in 2020, the State itself retired the old flag to help make citizens and visitors alike feel more welcome and part of our diverse community. (It's still a free country, of course. Individuals can do what they want with the flag, and museums are encouraged to display and interpret the flag's history.) Black lives matter here, as does black history and music.
Why all the extra slogans, disclaimers and heavy lifting? It's simple. Mississippi, like many states, has a challenging civil/human rights history. No mystery. Like Avis, we have to Try Harder. And we do.
Maybe that's why Clarksdale is the most popular tourist city in Mississippi. Maybe that's why our most recent Juke Joint Festival attracted attendees from at least 28 foreign countries, 47 US states and 54 Mississippi counties. Maybe that's why over 3 dozen folks like me — musicians, artists, entrepreneurs and even retirees — have moved here over the past decade from at least 4 foreign counties and over a dozen US states to enjoy our 7-nights-a-week of live blues and multiple festivals. And maybe that's why most of our tourism growth of the past 15 years has resulted from great "word of mouth" marketing
Come visit us for yourself, and then go home and sing our praises, y'all. (Btw, if you aren't thrilled and amazed by your visit, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Thanks and see you soon,
Cat Head founder, and Clarksdale's unofficial "Blues Ambassador",