Posted 17 November 2005 - 04:01 AM
Musicologists consider Clarksdale the epicenter of blues, and it has the pedigree to support this claim. Musical legends who have lived or passed through the town include Sam Cooke, who was born here, and Ike Turner, whose green clapboard house still sits on Washington Street. Muddy Waters was raised on the Stovall Plantation outside of town, and you can poke around his sharecropper cabin in the Delta Blues Museum or pay homage at a stone marker littered with picks. In 1937, Bessie Smith, who was on her way to perform in Clarksdale, died from car-accident-related injuries at the G.T. Thomas Hospital, which is now the Riverside Hotel. Die-hard blues fans who don't mind a bit of seediness can sleep where Turner and Sonny Boy Williamson once overnighted.
Most famously, at the crossroads of highways 61 and 49, the early-20th-century bluesman Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the Devil for the gift of a guitar. (A guitar-shaped monument marks the spot, though the "original" location is at the intersection of East Tallahatchie Street and Martin Luther King Drive.) And in the past year, Elvis Costello has recorded at Malvezzi's studio and Robert Plant has swung through town, in search of that ineffable blues feeling that helped shape Led Zeppelin's music.
Clarksdale, though, is no Beale Street-in-progress. Its abandoned storefronts are still waiting for retailers to take over, and its Blues Alley could fit inside one square of the legendary Memphis strip, about 75 miles north. (The town was not affected by the recent hurricanes.)
Posted 16 June 2006 - 12:28 PM
Just as you've become accustomed to the sense of being somewhere else, step into Madidi (164 Delta Avenue, 662-627-7724; www.madidires.com), a restaurant and cosmopolitan oasis, below. The Levingston salad ($6) — baby arugula cloaked in cucumber and blue cheese — refreshes, and the spicy catfish cake ($8) is a comfort. Striped bass is served with cardamom and coriander on grilled green tomatoes ($23). Madidi is partly owned by the actor Morgan Freeman, who lives in nearby Charleston. After dinner, stroll through the small downtown to Mr. Freeman's other venture: Ground Zero Blues Club (364 Delta Avenue, 662-621-9009; www.groundzerobluesclub.com). A former cotton warehouse, Ground Zero is Clarksdale's top blues spot. The local favorites in Clarksdale include Super Chikan, Jimbo Mathus (former leader of Squirrel Nut Zippers), the Deep Cuts and that cantankerous sweetheart, T-Model Ford.
4) Back-Door Museum
Breakfast at the Delta Amusement Blues Cafe (348 Delta Avenue, 662-627-1467) isn't anything you can't get on a grill elsewhere, but the sense of small-town intrigue is straight out of Eudora Welty. You can hear the laughing and cursing over poker and dominos even when the games aren't being played. Walk out the back door to the Delta Blues Museum (1 Blues Alley, 662-627-6820; www.deltabluesmuseum.org; $7 adults, $5 children ages 6 to 12). Alluringly low-tech, it delivers not only the music but also the culture that produced it.
Posted 16 June 2006 - 01:17 PM
The Voice of America
Posted 16 June 2006 - 04:18 PM
I highly recommend on passing through here. I have eaten at Madidi and Mr. Freeman was there at the time as was a most gracious host. The bar was pretty rockn the night i was there. I might have to go back. It isn't all that far from Helena Arkansas, the home of the original King Biscuit Blues Festival which happens the weekend of my birthday. I hear a trip coming on. Jaymes, want to meet up and join me on the levee to listen to some great blues?
Wow. Thanks, RP. That does sound like an atmospheric stop. I think I'll have to adjust my route on one of my upcoming trips to roll through there.
Posted 16 June 2006 - 08:29 PM
Go to eat at Doe's Eat Place in Greenville. A truly amazing Southern restaurant experience. Helena, Arkanas is a very scary place.
Posted 23 July 2010 - 04:59 PM
Posted 18 September 2010 - 05:26 AM
Anyway, we caught Watermelon Slim at Ground Zero. Good show, great crowd. Wish we were staying longer, Red's also looked pretty great. Plan is to do some record shopping & sightseeing tomorrow, then on to Memphis.
Posted 18 September 2010 - 07:43 AM
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Posted 24 September 2010 - 01:47 PM
Curiously, I was just speaking with a fellow at the WBGO-FM fund raiser who recently returned from Clarksdale. He did the New Orleans - Clarksdale - Memphis trip. The route touches a number of shrines and important locations on the Freedom Road, leading northward to Chicago / St Louis, etc, and many jazz roots.
Posted 24 September 2010 - 02:18 PM
Here are a couple more pics I found last night:
Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:12 PM
I'll be in Clarksdale next month for the Sunflower River Festival. Getting my intel together and will report back. Possible restaurants: Ramon's, Hooker Grocer, Ranchero, Yazoo Pass. If anyone has any newish information to share, please do! The festival is spread out over many of the local music venues, so it seems like I'll see much of what the town has to offer.