Experiencing the Blues in Mississippi

 
 

Kristy Alpert
Published June 02, 2014

As the birthplace of blues and the home state of many world-famous recording artists, Mississippi has some of the best music destinations in the country. Locals joke that music is the No. 1 export in the state, and with artists like Jimmie Rodgers, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Muddy Waters and more claiming roots in the musical state, it’s hard not to swoon over Mississippi’s most notable trait and cultural expression.

Here are a few of our favorite musical destinations across the state.

 

Tunica

Like most of the towns in the Mississippi Delta, the birthplace of the blues, Tunica’s musical history is sopping with languid lyrics and flowing refrains. Tunica has five markers on the Mississippi Blues Trail and is home to events like the Annual Delta Country Jam. Locals also partner with neighbor states Arkansas and Tennessee for the Bridging the Blues celebration (www.bridgingtheblues.com).

Artists such as Robert Johnson and James Cotton have roots in Tunica, and this fall, the Gateway to the Blues Museum will open. The museum will feature many blues artifacts, including instruments from those artists as well as newer artists like Eric Clapton.

“The Delta gave birth to the blues, and Tunica is the gateway to begin your journey down the Blues Highway 61,” said Bill Canter, director of marketing and sales for the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau. “If you haven’t seen a concert in Tunica, you’ll be impressed at your first show. The venues are intimate and make you feel like it’s a show just for you, and the performers are true headliners from all different musical genres.”

www.tunicatravel.com

 

Indianola

With the rich cultural and musical history surrounding Indianola and the Delta, tour groups are guaranteed to leave Indianola with a sweet tune still ringing in their ears.

From the live music offered at Club Ebony, the Blue Biscuit, the 308 Blues Club and Cafe, and other venues in town, Indianola always has something to offer groups visiting the area. The town also hosts several festivals throughout the year, including the Indian Bayou Arts Festival, the B.B. King Homecoming Festival and the Blue Biscuit Festival. There are also monthly music events, such as Jazz at the B.B. King Museum on the first Thursday of each month and “Music on the Lawn” at the museum on Fridays in April and May.

“The B.B. King Museum is definitely a must-see,” said Dion Brown, executive director for the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center. “Watching blues artists perform at Club Ebony is one of my favorite musical activities in Indianola. The history of the building itself offers such a great atmosphere to the place, and it adds an authentic feeling to their performances. Knowing who all has already performed on that very stage [Ray Charles, Count Basie, B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Albert King, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Milton and many other legendary acts] over the past 60-plus years makes it a great experience.”

www.bbkingmuseum.org

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