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Mississippi River Trip Day 11...Memphis, TN to Vicksburg, MS

overcast 79 °F

Today we learned that the delta is all about 3 things... Cotton, which is King, Blues & BBQ. You could even throw in catfish and melons as a fourth and fifth. There big down here too.

There is 250 miles of cotton fields. Driving through you start to get the sense of how hard it was to be a slave or sharecropper working in these fields. We learned at the blues museum that blues started from call and response from workers in the field. According to what we learned at the Blues Museum, once the workers got to back to their living quarters they would be left alone and they expanded on this simple call & response and that was the birth of the blues. We also found out from the ladies that run the Mississippi Welcome Center in Tunica, MS that the cotton harvest starts in October. The further south we got, the more we saw the cotton plants blooming.

There are too many blues artist to name that came from the delta, but a few names you will know are B.B. King, Ike Turner, Johnny Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, James Cotton, Son House, Howlin' Wolf, Pinetop Perkins, Muddy Waters, and Sonny Boy Williamson. We were able to see Muddy Waters one room house at the blues museum. There were 6-8in gaps in the beams letting light, air and anything else come in to the house. Imagine living in a house like that in the delta with all those bugs? Unfortunately we could not take pictures at the blues museum so we were not able to capture the great exhibits inside. Among the many things we learned is how great of a dresser Muddy Waters was. He was always dressed in a suit.

I had always glamorized the Delta in my head because I am a huge blues fan. After driving through, it is not so glamorous to me anymore. People live a very hard life here. There is nothing out here but the cotton crops. This is a very poor area and there are signs of it everywhere. There are run down small towns, with mobile homes on blocks, run down houses that look like shacks etc.. One thing we noticed though, is that people tend to stick together in large groups. We noticed this whether we stopped at a store, restaurant or just driving by some of the houses. I believe people in this area really try to stick together as family unlike you see in other parts of the country.

We stopped in Clarksdale Mississippi which bills itself as the Birthplace of the Blues. This is where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads to play guitar. The town was very historic with numerous plaques around town depicting famous spots or moments in blues history. Besides the Blues Museum we were able to visit the Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art Store. There was a great selection of blues artwork by local artists as well as CD's, DVD's clothing and other odds and ends. We then went to lunch at Hick's Tamale & BBQ Shop. The tamales where to die for. Tamales are a local food down in these parts. They are a little different than Mexican Tamale's. They have some unique spices and are so good and inexpensive.

Once we left Clarksdale we decided to try and get to Vicksburg as soon as we could. We didn't want a late night. The drive is 250 miles if you take the main highways. We took the river road at first and made stops. After Clarksdale we got on Highway 61 to get here faster. We finally arrived at 5:30 and were psyched to have the whole evening still in front of us. Mia was really happy to hit the pool.

We might be off to Baton Rogue tomorrow. The storm in the gulf is still pretty bad and we are starting to get the rain and wind here. There are tornado warnings on the east side of the state. We asked the hotel desk clerk if they have tornado plans and if so where is the best place to go in the hotel. She had no idea. She had to text somebody. That worried me a little!

Welcome to Mississippi

Welcome to Mississippi

Moon Lake Tree 3

Moon Lake Tree 3

Moon Lake Tree 2

Moon Lake Tree 2

Moon Lake Dock

Moon Lake Dock

Trees at Moon Lake, MS

Trees at Moon Lake, MS

Cotton Plant

Cotton Plant

Cotton 2

Cotton 2

W C Handy Home Site

W C Handy Home Site

Blues Club, Barber and Restaurant

Blues Club, Barber and Restaurant

Sam Cooke Sign outside of New Roxy

Sam Cooke Sign outside of New Roxy

New Roxy Blues Joint... Open for special events.  Started being renovated in 2008 after sitting vacant since 1980's

New Roxy Blues Joint... Open for special events. Started being renovated in 2008 after sitting vacant since 1980's

Smokers on side street in Clarksdale

Smokers on side street in Clarksdale

Ike Turner Clarksdale Plaque... Where Ike Started

Ike Turner Clarksdale Plaque... Where Ike Started

Delta Blues Museum Outside Stage

Delta Blues Museum Outside Stage

Ike Turner Plaque on Walkway to Delta Blues Museum

Ike Turner Plaque on Walkway to Delta Blues Museum

Delta Blues Museum

Delta Blues Museum

Bride of Chucky on back of Harley at Clarksdale Blues Museum

Bride of Chucky on back of Harley at Clarksdale Blues Museum

A BBQ Joint in Clarksdale... These are throughout the area

A BBQ Joint in Clarksdale... These are throughout the area

WROX Radio Building

WROX Radio Building

WROX Radio

WROX Radio

Hicks Drive Through in Clarksdale

Hicks Drive Through in Clarksdale

More Cotton Fields

More Cotton Fields

More Cotton Fields.  Harvest time is in October

More Cotton Fields. Harvest time is in October

Delta Cotton Fields

Delta Cotton Fields

Historic Route 61 South

Historic Route 61 South

Great Road Mississippi River Road Sign

Great Road Mississippi River Road Sign

Cotton

Cotton

Darrin at the end of a long day's drive from Memphis

Darrin at the end of a long day's drive from Memphis

Amy after a long day's ride from Memphis

Amy after a long day's ride from Memphis

Mia tasting a lemon at the end of a long day's drive from Memphis

Mia tasting a lemon at the end of a long day's drive from Memphis

Posted by mrcatphish 19:42 Archived in USA Tagged clarksdale delta_blues_museum cat_head_delta_blues

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