Sunday, April 6, 2008
Where to go:
The better question might be: Where do you start? You could easily spend a couple of days in Clarksdale and not run out of places to see. Here are a few to get you going:
Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, 252 Delta Ave. A must stop in is this funky record shop/book store/art gallery run by Roger and Jennifer Stolle, who moved here six years ago from St. Louis to open Cat Head. Their library of blues music and books is extensive, and their collection of folk and outsider art is eclectic and affordable. As Roger says, "It's kind of like shopping in a juke joint." A fun place to browse, even if you don't want to buy - but trust us, you will. Also, three Sundays a year during festival weekends, Cat Head hosts a free "mini blues fest" on the sidewalk in front of the store. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 662-624-5992. www.cathead.biz.
Crossroads Monument, intersection of highways U.S. 61 and U.S. 49. You can't go to Clarksdale without going "down to the Crossroads" to get your picture taken under the big guitars and highway signs that mark the intersection where bluesman Robert Johnson made his mythic deal with the devil.
Delta Blues Museum, 1 Blues Alley. Built in 1918, this former freight train depot was converted into a museum in 1999. Inside are the remains of the cabin where Muddy Waters lived as a sharecropper, as well as guitars from B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and Big Joe Williams. Allow about two hours to see it all and visit the gift shop. $7 admission. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, March 1-Oct. 31; 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday, Nov. 1-Feb. 28. www.deltabluesmuseum.org. 662-627-6820.
Ground Zero Blues Club, 0 Blues Alley. With its uneven wooden floors and exposed brick walls, this old feed-and-seed store, built in the early 1900s, is now, as the name sugggests, the bull's-eye for the blues in Clarksdale. Opened six years ago by Clarksdale lawyer and businessman Bill Luckett and Oscar-winning actor and Delta resident Morgan Freeeman, Ground Zero features fried catfish and "voodoo" burgers for lunch and supper and authentic blues by such artists as Watermelon Slim and Super Chikan four nights a week. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday; kitchen hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday-Tuesday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 662-621-9009. www.groundzerobluesclub.com.
Red's Lounge, 395 Sunflower Ave. For the true juke joint experience, ain't nothin' quite like Red's. Outside, hand-painted signs remind potential loiterers there are "no drugs" and "no standin' outside" allowed. Inside, the walls come alive with the sound of the blues from such regulars as Big T, T-Model Ford and Big Jack Johnson. (If it rains a lot, the roof will probably leak, too, but that's part of the experience.) Cold beer comes in tall-boy cans, and some nights, "Red" (not many people know his real name) serves his hot "Mississippi Magnolia" sausages that he grills in the rusting metal drum out front. Hours vary. No phone or Web site address available.
Super Soul Shop, 258 Yazoo Ave. If you're looking for red shoes, a purple shirt or an apricot suit, the Super Soul Shop is your place. Elvis Costello shopped here when he was in town a few years ago. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 662-624-6794.
Tennessee Williams District, Sharkey Avenue at First Street and at Court Street and Clark Street. Playwright Tennessee Williams spent much of his youth in Clarksdale, where he lived with grandfather in the rectory of St. George's Episcopal Church. Take a walking tour of his old neighborhood and see some of the places that inspired the characters and events in "The Glass Menagerie" and "A Streetcar Named Desire." www.clarksdaletourism.com