When visitors travel to Mississippi to discover our state's blues musical heritage, they find the real, authentic experience here - especially in places like Clarksdale in the Mississippi Delta.
When you arrive in Clarksdale, Mississippi, start at the famed crossroads of Highways 49 and 61, said to be the site of where legendary blues man Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in order to master the guitar. A large sign with crossed guitars marks the spot of this diabolical deal in Delta lore. Highway 61 runs north to south and is often referred to as the "Blues Highway."
And now that the Mississippi Blues Trail includes dynamic, historical markers at locations throughout the state, you can visit two new Blues Trail Markers that are now in place in the Clarksdale area at the Riverside Hotel and at Muddy Waters' cabin site.
Speaking of Muddy Waters, Clarksdale, Mississippi, is the home of the Delta Blues Museum. Inside you'll find a wealth of information and exhibits about the unique American musical art form that is simply known as "the blues." Permanent exhibits such as Muddy Waters' childhood cabin make the Delta Blues Museum a must-see for everyone.
Clarksdale's rich blues history is evident all over town. On Sunflower Avenue you will find the Riverside Hotel made famous by Bessie Smith who drew her last breath there after a car accident. Issaquena Avenue is where beginner blues men of the past cut their teeth through street performances. Wade Walton's Barbershop was once the site of spontaneous blues jam sessions and tall tales by the owner who was friends with blues great Sonny Boy Williamson and W.C. Handy. Finally, while in Clarksdale, Mississippi, make it a point to tune into one of the country's oldest blues stations, WROX 1450-AM.
Another interesting site in the area is Hopson Plantation. The Hopson Planting Company was established in 1852 to grow cotton, the Delta's cash crop. The 4,000-acre property reached its heyday in the 1940s when the company was first to grow and harvest a cotton crop produced completely by mechanical methods. No longer a functioning farm, the Hopson Plantation and Commissary stands today in much the same condition as it was more than fifty years ago.
After you've worked up an appetite discovering all of the Mississippi blues history and heritage in Clarksdale, you'll have plenty of places to dine. Right beside the sign marking the historic crossroads is another famous Clarksdale landmark: Abe's Bar-B-Q. Since 1924, barbeque lovers have flocked to Abe's to enjoy tender pulled pork sandwiches and splendid sides. Come hungry and order the "Big Abe." Chamoun's Rest Haven Restaurant is indeed a haven of multi-cultural dining in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. An extensive menu features American and Italian fare as well as some of the area's best Lebanese cuisine. Don't leave without sampling the stuffed grape leaves, stuffed cabbage and stuffed kibbie. Delta native and Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman opened the white tablecloth restaurant Madidi with local attorney Bill Luckett. Hit it on the right night and you might run into the Hollywood mega-star. The menu features Southern favorites such as catfish and fried oyster appetizers, while entrees consist of elegantly plated steaks, fish and wild game. Also co-owned by actor Morgan Freeman and local attorney Bill Luckett is Ground Zero Blues Club. This juke joint has a full menu of Southern staples and live music to celebrate the area's rich blues heritage. Ground Zero is the place to cap off your day of Mississippi blues history with the real thing - live blues music by local artists.
Be sure to do some shopping before you leave town - and here's a unique place you'll want to check out: Taking its name from a type of biscuit of similar size, Cathead Delta Blues & Folk Art store features a full selection of Mississippi blues CDs, videos, DVDs, books and collectibles as well as Southern folk art. It's a great place to find some souvenirs for your friends or for yourself. Be sure to stop in and pick up a memory from your trip to the historic Delta.