Thursday, 7 November 2013

Clarksdale, Mississippi

First impressions of this town, were of how tired it is now after once being the centre of Blues Music. The great Muddy Waters was regularly playing here. The draw card to town was the Blues Museum, which houses so much history of musicians of a bygone era.  

First place to visit was the "Ground Zero" club.  Owned by Morgan Freeman.
Yes! it looks very run down.  It is meant to be that way to echo how things looked when cotton picking was labour intensive and music was an escape from the drudgery. Inside was pretty much the same.
     The walls and surfaces were coved in graffiti, purposely.
     No expense spared for the table accoutrements!

    This entry caught our eye!

Following the visit to the museum we wandered the streets of Clarksdale.
   Needing lunch we entered this place. Great sandwiches and funky old decor.
 Inside we met Charlie Musselwhite (famed blues harmonica player) doing the same as us.  We last saw him at the Jazz festival in Wangaratta (earlier this year).  We didn't get to chat with him there though.  He was very gracious and told us not to miss Robert Belfour at "Little Red's" that night. Charlie, originally from Memphis is building a new home on the edge of Clarksdale. He is planning to be at the Byron Bay Bluesfest in 2014.
   The other sites in town.

    Scene of Blues Cafe, a very small music venue, operating on an occasional basis.

Walked into this shop, Cat Head, to be serenaded by a guitarist who was practising for the International Blues Challenge. It was great to be serenaded while we browsed. 
We entered this shop thinking it was a second hand shop.  We still aren't sure what they were selling, however the proprietor, a man about 40yrs old, started chatting.  After hearing where we were staying, he said, "Don't walk around at night without one of these" and pulled a small hand gun from his pocket!!!!!
A small clothing shop caught our eye, because it was a sale (50% off) of second hand things.  Robert bought a fabulous hat for $12. The proprietress, Madge, has another interest, urban redevelopment and had just spent 3 weeks in Fitzroy. Ballarat was part of her study tour. Small world eh!!  We forgot to take a photo of the shop front.

That afternoon we travelled to Oxford a university town one hour from Clarksdale.  It's a very English town.  The town hall with the double decker buses that roam the city.  Named after it's sister in UK.

   Some of the dwellings.

    Halloween was imminent.

Back in Clarksdale.........So this is the outside of "Little Red's".  I'm sure we could be forgiven for thinking the place we'd heard about was not a working concern. However we came along later that night and were admitted.  Robert Belfour is 73 yrs old.  He started playing at 9.00pm. Went non-stop until 11.00pm. Stopped briefly and started again.  We had to give up around midnight.  Goodness knows what time he eventually stopped. We bought one of his CD's though and will remember the night each time we play it. (I can see where the White Stripes got their inspiration from).

    The front door!
   Inside was very small and only beer was sold!

     Further shots of the town.
    The Sunflower River.
    I'm not sure whether the Greyhound buses still come here, but the lights still flash!

The crossroads mentioned in the song by Robert Johnson.  Although it is disputed as to it's authenticity.  Several other crossroads vie for the honour.  Still we liked this one.  The guitar sculpture is great.

At a small settlement called Shackup Inn, about 2-3 miles out of town.  There is a music venue, surrounded by shacks that are reminiscent of the cotton workers huts, where people can stay. In its hey day it was a huge settlement with a commissary that had its own currency.

Outside the pub is the police vehicle used n the Blues Brothers movie.
    We think this firetruck was from the movie too.

So that's Clarksdale.  We were drawn here because it's where Robert Johnson wrote "Cross roads".  It seems like a pretty sad run down place now, however closer study revealed quite a few gems. Amazing to think of all the great music that evolved from this area.

Next entry from Memphis.
Cheers for now,
Robert & Robert
The Tourin'Travellers 


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