MISSISSIPPI STOPS HIGHLIGHT NATIONAL TRAIN DAY, BLUES CONNECTION

mississippiJackson, Mississippi (April 15, 2010) – On May 6 and 7, 2010, Mississippi will join Amtrak in celebrating National Train Day with a series of whistle stops and other events around the state.

As part of the National Train Day 2010 celebration, Amtrak will explore the historic connection between blues music and America’s railroads with a commemorative train tour through the Mississippi Delta, the birthplace of the blues, and conclude in Chicago. The tour will host “Big Bill” and “Mud” Morganfield, sons of the great bluesman Muddy Waters, on the three-day journey through Mississippi to the Midwest. Harmonica player Grady Champion, a Canton, Miss., native and 2010 International Blues Challenge Winner, will accompany the brothers on the train tour.

“From song lyrics to familiar imagery, we know that blues music and railroads have a long history together,” said Mary Beth Wilkerson, director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division. “W.C. Handy, ‘Father of the Blues,’ was inspired to create the musical art form while at a train station in the Mississippi Delta. National Train Day is the perfect opportunity to recognize those roots and continue to celebrate Mississippi as the ‘Birthplace of America’s Music.’”

On May 6, the tour will visit several Mississippi Blues Trail historical sites in Mississippi, including McComb (Bo Diddley Blues Trail marker), Hazlehurst (Robert Johnson Blues Trail marker) and Jackson (nine Blues Trail markers). On May 7, the group will also tour Clarksdale, Cleveland, Indianola and Rolling Fork, the birthplace of Muddy Waters, before boarding the train again in Greenwood. Blues great and former railroad man Bobby Rush (who calls Jackson, Miss., home) will board the train in Memphis, where the musical journey will culminate at the historic Chicago Union Station on National Train Day, Saturday, May 8, with free live performances by “Big Bill,” “Mud” and Rush.

For more information about National Train Day, visit www.nationaltrainday.com. For details on blues music and the Mississippi Blues Trail, visit www.msbluestrail.org or explore the state’s official tourism Web site, www.visitmississippi.org.

Note: Members of the media are invited to ride the train from McComb to Jackson for photo opportunities and one-on-one interviews with the Morganfields and Amtrak representatives. Transportation to and from the event venues would be the individual’s/media outlet’s responsibility.

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