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Experiencing the Blues in Mississippi


Kristy Alpert
Published June 02, 2014


What else can you say about the birthplace of The King? Tupelo is the first place Elvis Presley’s infant vocal chords ever graced, and travelers can visit the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Park to explore that two-bedroom shotgun house. From the sweet sound of Southern gospel heard in the Assembly of God Church that adolescent Presley attended to the soulful rhythm-and-blues that came from the historic African-American neighborhood of Shakerag, Presley was influenced by his upbringing in Tupelo.

Now groups get the chance to be inspired by his hometown, as well with the Elvis Presley Driving Tour, which explores 12 sites that had an impact on the artist.

“Many of our festivals and special events showcase local talent, such as the Homemade Jamz Blues Band, who have performed internationally and won numerous blues awards,” said Linda Elliff, sales manager for group tours at the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, where she has been for the past 20 years.

“The Elvis Presley Event Center is the newest addition to the attraction complex and offers a banquet hall and state-of-the-art theater that will seat 126 people. But I also recommend checking out the live music scene to see who’s playing that week at the various venues around town. Tupelo’s music offerings are diverse and getting better all the time.”



Music history comes to life in Oxford, a university town that offers everything from one-on-one meetings with local musicians and patio concert receptions to lectures at the University of Mississippi from the curator of the Blues Archives, which houses an extensive collection of B.B. King’s recordings, his personal record collection and tons of blues memorabilia.

Oxford is also home to Living Blues Magazine, boasts two Blues Markers on the Mississippi Blues Trail and has a wide array of musical venues on the historic downtown square, including the Lyric Theatre Rooster’s Blues House and the always hopping Proud Larry’s.

“Thacker Mountain Radio, the live weekly radio show produced from Off Square Books, is a local favorite event,” said Mary Allyn Hedges, director of Visit Oxford. “Thacker Mountain Radio is quintessential Oxford. If you’re ever in Oxford on a Thursday night in the spring or fall, you definitely don’t want to miss this live show.”

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