Thursday, November 3, 2011

The road to St. Louis- Mississippi Delta

We had four driving days to cover the 650 miles to St. Louis from New Orleans and decided to take Highway 61.  It was the first time on tour that we actually felt like we were on a road trip because we only drove about 200 miles a day and had plenty of time to stop and look at sweet stuff.  Our first stop in Mississippi was this old town called Woodville and I noticed a little brown sign that said "Mississippi Blues Trail Site" with an arrow, so we followed it and found a marker with a bunch of info about Blues dudes from that town. 

I did some research on my phone and found out that these markers were made and placed all over the state, so we made it our mission to find them.  That night we stayed in Natchez State Park, and before we went "home" for the night we stopped and explored the town.  They have an awesome park right next to the river, and a gnarly bridge!

At the visitor center we scored a map of all the blues trail sites, then we went to the historic downtown and read a few markers.  The architecture reminded me a lot of New Orleans and a shop owner told us that most of the buildings are from the early to middle 1800s.  I would have loved to see more of the town, but we were both feeling sick and it was getting late so we called it a night.

The next day our camping destination was Clarksdale, about 200 miles away.  We stopped for another bass drum photo before we left the park--it was such a pretty drive!

This is a sweet old building in Port Gibson, right by the Rabbit Foot Minstrels Blues Trail marker. 

Then we drove through Vicksburg.  We didn't walk around there because it seemed like everything was under construction.  We did drive along a stretch of road by the river that had tons of murals with the town's history and that was pretty cool.  Also, we checked out the Highway 61 Blues Trail marker. 

Next we stopped in Rolling Fork, birthplace of Muddy Waters.   Here's an old shanty that was next to his marker, brought in from a plantation years ago.

We stopped in Leland and met the mayor while we were reading Johnny Winter's blues trail marker.

Then we walked across the street to the Highway 61 Blues Museum and met Pat Thomas, son of James "Son" Thomas.  He was incredibly nice, very talkative, and a bit loopy.  He played some songs with a dude that drove down from Memphis to see him, then gave us a couple of his cat head dominoes (he's also a folk artist that specializes in cat drawings--that's him on the right). 

Also Alex got hassled for change and a cigarette by a guy pretending to be deaf.  We went and got some Mexican food for dinner then drove the 45 more miles to Clarksdale without stopping.  When we got there we could not find the stupid campground because my phone couldn't find the road it was on.  Turns out it was at the fairgrounds in town, so we drove by and it seemed adequate and then we headed downtown to try to find some music and a drink.  Downtown was deserted.  As we were driving past the third or fourth club that was closed (it was a Tuesday), Alex hollered out the window at this old hippie/mountain man lookin dude that was walking down the street.  He told us that there wasn't music anywhere on Tuesdays in Clarksdale, but he brought us to the Hopson Plantation Commissary, which was open and totally awesome.  I must have been totally wiped because I didn't take any pictures and that place was soooo cool!  Here's the website: 

We talked to him (Ed) and his wife (Tobi) for a while and found out that they're traveling artists/vendors at lots of music festivals.  Tobi is a potter and Ed makes amazing pieces out of old silverware.  Check out his site:  They were parking at the Hopson that night and let us park next to them, which was super awesome and also free. 

The next day we went to the Mississippi Delta Blues Museum and walked around town a little.

This shop is actually named after Pat Thomas' art.

Front door of Ground Zero.

Sweet stencil on the side of a building.

Cool old lamppost.

And the old Greyhound station.  I'm pretty sure it's a museum or visitor's center or something now.

We left around 11 and rattled out of town to St. Louis!
Mississippi Blues Trail website:

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