Clarksdale – Blues Ground Zero

Lord, that 61 Highway may be the longest road I know
She run from New York City, down the Gulf of Mexico.
– Mississippi Fred McDowell “61 Highway”
Got my first good look at the Mississippi on my way south out of Memphis, driving old highway 61 to New Orleans over the next few days.
There are different blues museums pretty much every 30 minutes along Highway 61 but all of them so far are worth seeing so the short drive from Memphis to Clarksdale ended up taking all day.
Clarksdale, where Robert Johnson sold his soul at the crossroads..
In honour of Robert I grabbed some BBQ and had a little picnic at the crossroads.
Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done ?”
God says. “Out on Highway 61”.
– Bob Dylan
Gorgeous old motel
WC Handy’s coronet, Father of the Blues.
Blues bar!
The bar was amazing, I was the first customer of the evening so the owner, Red, put me to work helping with setup, the whole evening was perfect, great friendly people, amazing music, dancing.
The guitarist, Lou, had gotten a kick out of me when I was helping with setup and once the room was full of people introduced me as “a famous Canadian comedian”, invited me to tell a joke and then played a gorgeous blues cover of Neil Young’s ‘The Needle & The Damage Done’.
The mood was so friendly and warm, maybe 30 people at most, like a house party, lots of cross-talk and introductions. The crowd was probably half local and half outsiders, having the locals was key as they knew a bunch of call and response bits and things to yell out that added a ton to the evening.

Ā One local lady in particular made sure she sat with everyone and talked to each of them and got their story.

I noticed this friendly lady would run out the front door each time anyone would leave for the evening, ensuring they got a proper goodbye and closing conversation out front. This made me shy and nervous so when I eventually did leave for the night I timed it for when her back was turned…

I slipped out and was just buckling my seatbelt when there was a gentle knock on the van window, there she was, grinning and shaking her finger at me. We chatted a while, she said she knew I was going to be a “slipaway guy”.

A great night.

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