“You know a dream is like a river ever changin’ as it flows, and a dreamer’s just a vessel that must follow where it goes” – Garth Brooks
Miles traveled: 82.3
Had a great night’s sleep listening to the delta blues in my little tin shack, checked out of the Shack Up Inn (awesome place to stay), and headed into downtown Clarksdale for a good old fashioned history lesson. And my apologies in advance that this post is a little historical! First stop, The Delta Blues Museum. The museum was very well set up and provided a great introduction to the Mississippi Delta region and it’s influence on blues music before jumping into the good stuff – the musicians. There were great exhibits for well known, and not so well known blues artists from Clarksdale and nearby cities and towns. I learned quite a bit about artists and their impact on blues music and the region such as: Paul “Wine” Jones, Jessie Mae Hemphill, David “HoneyBoy” Edwards, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, and Sam Cooke. During my visit, I learned about Charley Patton and his preference for Stella guitars; Robert Johnson (1911-1938), a natural musician who died way too young, and whose record They’re Red Hot and others by him continued to sell well beyond his death; Joshua “Razorblade” Stewart, who was at the museum and played us one of his records while telling some old stories of playing over at Ground Zero; and BB (of BB King) comes from when he was known in the 40s as the “Beale Street Blues Boy”. So so SO cool to meet one of these legends of music in person and hear his stories! The museum was great and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to visit the area.
“You know the blues had a baby and they named the baby rock and roll.” – from The Blues Had a Baby and Named is Rock and Roll by McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield.
Speaking of rock and roll. After wandering through the small downtown area, I stopped into the Rock & Blues Museum. It was recommended by the nice folks at the Shack Up Inn. This museum had a different feel about it compared to the first one. This was a museum that took you from the 40s all the way to the 70s of music history, with a whole section dedicated to the local artists of Clarksdale, MS. The museum was established by Theo Daschbach, using his personal collection – which is an enormous collection. Like crazy enormous! Thousands and thousands of posters, vinyls, record players, radios, memorabilia, instruments, and even more music related items. It included information and items from the likes of: Fats Domino, Sam Cooke, Muddy Waters, T-Model Ford, Etta James, Charley Patton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, The Everly Brothers, The Beatles, The Who, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and the Bee Gees. I could go on and on with other artists, but this would be a very long post! No pictures allowed according to the sign. Dang it. But – I made good buddies with the older gentleman that runs the museum (his name is Jimmy – super kind veteran) as I was the only one there at the time, and we were chatting about my road trip and he said it would be ok if I took a couple of pictures for my ‘journal’. I made an extra donation to the museum because of his kindness and letting me take some pictures.
I really enjoyed the museum visit, and taking a stroll through the history of the blues and rock and roll music. Seeing the Elvis collection got me pretty pumped about my upcoming visit to Graceland – I feel better prepared because I really didn’t know too much about Elvis’ story (shame on me, I know). And yes (this is for you, Betsy) he did die in his bathroom of an apparent heart attack (which I have to imagine was drug related, just a guess with my limited knowledge)…so excellent memory on that! Even more so than seeing such an incredible musical collection, I really enjoyed meeting my new friend, Jimmy. He was so kind and was happy to share his personal stories of growing up in Clarksdale, experiencing the music and events of those times, and meeting many of the blues artists in person, often when they stopped into the museum to meet the visitors, sign their records, and share their own stories. He was even friends (since grade school) with a musician who was part of the ‘original’ rolling stones (not the group we all know of well) and shared some great stories of their live shows in the juke joints down the street. Jimmy is a retired Navy veteran, who was based in San Diego for several years. Something he shares with my dad (he found this out through conversation and had me texting my mom to get the same of the destroyer my dad served on and his rank, CO, etc). Through conversation, I learned that Jimmy graduated from high school in 1952, from undergrad with a business degree in 1992, and grad school several years later – he said to me, “young lady, I am the slowest learner you will ever meet!” Sweetest. Man. Ever. I ended up hanging out at the museum for an hour longer than planned – but it was worth every minute after meeting Jimmy. He’s a kind soul, and a great representation of the people of Clarksdale. A great reminder that there are truly kind people in the most unexpected places in this world! As I left, Jimmy – a true patriot – thanked my dad for his service and I thanked him in return. The pleasure was all mine. I headed back out to highway 61 and made my way to Memphis. It’s only about 2 hours up the road, so I popped in a book on tape (yes, you heard it correctly – book on tape!) and enjoyed about 4 chapters of a new book, being read to me by a charming lady with an Australian accent. Sold. Made a quick stop to grab some wiper fluid – I guess I have used most of mine up trying to clean the sweat…sorry, I mean salt and dust…from the windshields! Crisis averted. Wiper fluid poured into wiper fluid holder thing. Back on the road. Arrived in Memphis at my hotel, The Madison, settled in, ordered some food (this is my first meal since New Orleans – I was THAT full from Saturday night’s dinner! #spicytoenail), caught up with the parents on the phone, chatted with Alice over text, and planned out my day for tomorrow.
Now back to my book for some reading before hitting the hay. Until next time… – traveljunkE