Live blues is rare in the Delta these days, apart from festivals (see below). Juke boxes, changing musical tastes, a much-reduced population, and general poverty have eroded a once-thriving music scene. Luckily, Clarksdale offers some of the best local options.

Delta festivals offer concentrated doses of blues music and culture. Events range from small, casual affairs to large, professionally organized festivals that attract thousands of visitors. Check individual Web sites for exact dates and lineups. Alert: These are generally outdoors affairs and Delta weather is hot from spring to fall, and downright steamy in summer—be prepared.

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Music

Ground Zero Blues Club Located near the Delta Blues Museum, this restaurant-bar-club books a busy, regular program of live music (not all of it blues). Check the calendar on its Web site for updates. Part owner and actor Morgan Freeman relaxes there when in town. (662) 621-9009 www.groundzerobluesclub.com

Hambone Art Gallery Tuesday nights from 7:00pm - 10:00pm.
111 East Second Street, (662) 253-5586, $5 cover

Messenger’s Pool Hall A multi-generational family business, on the Lomax-era maps of Clarksdale in the 1940s. Open nightly, sandwiches, occasional live music.

Red’s Lounge As basic as a club gets: a well-worn building (formerly LaVene Music Center; look for the fading painted sign near the top of the brick storefront) houses a minimally decorated but totally bar setting with live music most weekends and occasionally during the week. Beer and setups available. (662) 627-3166 or (662) 627-1367

WROX Radio Listen to the local radio station and find local concerts during your stay in town. www.wroxradio.com


Festivals

April: Juke Joint Festival A free, family event in downtown Clarksdale with a parade, art exhibit, petting zoo, historic tours, pig races, and lots of live local blues in the evenings. www.jukejointfestival.com

April: Natchez Bluff Blues Fest A free, family event in downtown Natchez with plenty of music, food, art exhibits and more. This annual event is scheduled in conjunction with the Spring Market on the Mississippi, featuring over 50 vendors providing food, arts/crafts, games, merchandise and more. For more information call (601) 660-2792.

May: Mississippi Saxophone Festival A newly formed festival in Clarksdale featuring bluesmen and their harmonica talents. www.mississippisaxophonefestival.com

June: Highway 61 Blues Festival A low-key festival in Leland, about an hour south of Clarksdale, that showcases the Delta’s local musical legends (admission fee). www.highway61blues.com

June: BB King Homecoming The master returns each year to play a free outdoor concert in his hometown.

August: Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival Free, intimate (on small stages in downtown Clarksdale), and focused on Mississippi musicians, this event includes traditional blues and gospel music. www.sunflowerfest.org

September: Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival The longest-running blues festival in the Delta is held near Greenville (about an hour and half south of Clarksdale) on three stages, including a juke joint set-up and a gospel tent (admission fee). www.visitthedelta.com

October: Deep Blues Festival Created to celebrate the outsider and alternative blues and blues influenced music, this festival got its start near the twin cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) as a 1-day event showcasing 18 bands. The festival has evolved with each passing year, and in 2014 made the move south to Clarksdale. For more information about the festival and to purchase tickets, please visit www.deepbluesfest.com

October: King Biscuit Festival One of the top blues festivals in the country takes place in downtown historic Helena, Arkansas, about a half-hour northwest of Clarksdale across the Mississippi River. Free, large in both artist lineup and crowds, and altogether an Event. www.kingbiscuitfestival.com

October: Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival Playwright Williams is honored with a literary conference, porch plays, film screenings, seminars, and a drama competition for high school students. www.coahomacc.edu
2010 Tennessee Williams Festival draws international attention Read More

Museum Hours
1 Blues Alley - Clarksdale, MS 38614 - 662-627-6820
Current Hours - Monday thru Saturday - 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

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Last revised on August 14 2012, Copyright © 1999 - 2012 DeltabluesMuseum.org, All rights reserved.