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
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.
To download a color Delta Blues Museum
brochure (PDF file), Click
To download a black and white Delta
Blues Museum brochure (PDF file), Click
To download a Delta Blues Museum Group Tour
form (PDF file), Click
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
Radio Listen to the local radio station and find local
concerts during your stay in town. www.wroxradio.com
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.
Mississippi Saxophone Festival A newly formed festival
in Clarksdale featuring bluesmen and their harmonica talents.
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).
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
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
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
Williams Festival draws international attention