Friday, April 22, 2011

Delta Blues

We made it to Clarksdale, Mississippi - the heart of the Delta, birthplace of the Blues and what we suspect may be the final resting place of the police car from the Blues Brothers movie.

We came for the Juke Joint Festival, which celebrates the origins of American Music. The festival itself combines an international blues festival with a community-minded small-town fair, creating a strong and memorable event like no other. It is promoted  to fans of the Blues and is beginning to draw tourists from all over the world. We saw guest books where people signed in this week from the UK, Australia, Spain, Brazil, Italy, as well as from all over the US and Canada

Clarksdale lays claim to being the "Crossroads" of the Blues where Highway 61 and 49 intersect. Robert Johnson is said to have gone down to the Crossroads and made a deal with the Devil that enabled him to be such an amazing guitarist. 

The original juke joints were small, often one room, establishments where people came to socialize, drink, gamble and of course listen to music.

One of the most famous juke joints is Ground Zero Blues Club, and is partially owned by Morgan Freeman. Many famous artists as well as not so famous artists have played there. Pretty funky and cool place.

The main part of the festival took place on Saturday. There were different Blues groups playing all over town, often only  a block or so away from each other. It was impossible to see everyone but we went to as many as we could and heard some great music. 

The man on the far right is in his 80s and what a musician he is.

This guy's harmomica was wireless to the sound system so he roamed around while he played. We saw him with several groups and he got totally going with the music, dancing and playing.
Mary Ann 'Action' Jackson in action - pretty down and dirty and definitely entertaining.

Our discovery of the festival was Selwyn Cooper from Lafayette, LA.  He played with Buckwheat Zydeco at one time. He has to be one of the best guitarists we have ever seen and we have seen Clapton and Derek Trucks in recent years. Brian spoke with him and he is very modest and unassuming, almost shy. But man can he play. He has some of the fastest fingers we have ever seen and he picks the right notes at the right time and plays them just right every time. He plays in clubs around Lafayette and Beau Bridge, and at times in NOLA. He has toured the world but seems to stay close to home. An amazing player.

Here are some links to learn more about Clarksdale and the Mississippi Blues Trail.......

Juke Joint Festival  

Mississippi Blues Trail 

Find a Blues Festival near you    

Our next stop will be in Red Bay, Alabama. This is where Tiffin Motorhomes is located and we like to stop there to have things taken care of on the Bus. Not the most exciting place but a good place to get caught up and do what needs to be done to keep us safely on the road.

1 comment:

  1. Hi~ I linked here from TiffinRVnetwork. We were in Clarksdale the same time as you--we took the blues trail from Memphis to New Orleans for the NOLA Jazz Festival. Did you get to Po Monkey's juke joint south of Clarksdale?

    Happy trails.

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