Sunday, July 19, 2020

Delta Blues Trip - Leg 1 (7/18/2020)

This is a story about leaving and living.  The grave visits will be after the next update.

My previous post told about this trip and finally Saturday, July 18, 2020, came around, and I was so super excited to make this trip that I woke up early on in the 6 o'clock hour (AM).  As with anything one does that he's longed for, I felt a bit of weepy-joy but didn't let it happen because I make ugly cry-faces.  Still, realizing I was headed down historic Highway 61 - traveled by so many blues men and women - I couldn't help but feel excellent!

CLICK HERE to see the trip from Memphis, TN, that started at 8am and ended at 9:30pm!  My friends Lisa McGeorge and Jack Chapman joined me on this journey.

But, why did I want to go on this trip?  As a kid, a fan of Muppets, Disney, and other fun kiddy music, I was turned onto new sounds by The Blues Brothers, and suddenly began to make connections to music I heard being played around.  It started with Sam and Dave because of "Soul Man" by The Blues Brothers.  Eventually, I had a copy of 'Briefcase Full of Blues' by The Blues Brothers, and they introduced the names of the blues performers whose songs they were covering, and I did more research.  In my teens, I learned about Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, and others, and fell deeply in love with their stories (as big a fan of theirs that I am, I will crown Muddy Waters as my top favorite).  Then, I learned that Robert Johnson was buried somewhere in Mississippi, and for some reason never looked on a map for how close or far the grave was - assuming it was way down and out of reach.

Then, per my last post, I found that all these areas are only about 2 hours away from Memphis, TN, and I could make my way there, and so: this trip!  While I don't believe Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to learn how to play guitar, I do believe that it's a fun story to tell, and creates a legend that we can hold onto.    That said, there were three crossroads to visit, three graves, three historical places.  A trinity of the blues!  (There is a book called Brother Robert by his 94 year old sister Annye Anderson published June 2020.)

FIRST STOP - Crossroads 1b and 1a

Clarksdale, MS, and the crossroads.  Highways 61 and 49 cross twice, and the first one we stopped at wasn't as fully traveled or as populated as the one marked as 'the crossroads.'  IF the legend was true, I consider this first set of 61/49 to be where it would have been more likely to have happened.  I have named this Crossroads 1b, because the 'marked' crossroads is most famous and so earn the title 1a.

But, pulling over for this quick photo was brief as we headed down to downtown Clarksdale, MS, to the marked Crossroads 1a, next to Abe's BBQ where I would have loved to taken lunch (especially the tamales).

The Clarksdale plaque at the marked Crossroads 1a read:

County seat of Coahoma County, was founded in 1869 by John Clark, for whom the town was named. Situated in one of the most fertile regions of the world, it has grown into one of the leading cities of the Yazoo Mississippi Delta.  It has a just pride in its library, its schools, and its churches, and is an important market for long staple cotton.
Placed by Rosannah Waters Chapter, D.A.R. 1938

We passed by the hotel where Bessie Smith died and went to Ground Zero in Clarksdale, next to the blues museum I've visited before.  Everything was closed that early in the morning (we'd reached Clarksdale about 9 am).


Not only did Robert Johnson sing about Rosedale, but Jim Henson
was born in Greenville.
I guess it is in some of the folklore mostly out of Europe and in some other genres of music that, possibly because he sang about Rosedale, MS, Robert Johnson must have met the devil at these crossroads, also Highway 1 and 8.  (Side note, as we made our way around the Delta, we found ourselves on both HWY 8 and HWY 49 a few times!)  I'll share my thoughts on Johnson's legend in another post one day.

Highway 1 heads straight north and south, parallel with the Mississippi River, and Highway 8 dead-ends into it.  I personally think that a crossroads should be one road going through the other; but, a T shaped intersection is considered a crossroads as well, I guess.

With nothing really to see here, we made our departure to our next stop.  I'll share Crossroads #3 in my next update when I go to a few VERY special places!

THIRD STOP - Jim Henson Delta Boyhood Museum

We went forward to Leland, MS, and the Jim Henson Delta Boyhood Museum.  We drove past the old theater in Leland where Jim Henson watched The Wizard of Oz, and the Leland Elementary School where he may have attended.  Then, on to the museum itself.

"Ukelele" Jack Chapman likes
the frog with a banjo!
Lisa McGeorge remembers a time when
Kermit met Elton John on The Muppet Show.

My Fozzie replica made by Carl Chadd.

Of course, following a Cookie Monster replica puppet image, I have to share about:

Third Stop Part 2 - LUNCH!!

Some of the best food there is can be found at a gas station called:

Even greeted by a sleeping cat on top of the minnow bin :D

Lisa had to get a photo with the sleeping cat who was
dreaming of delicious minnows!

The large cheeseburger was delicious, partnered with season fries.
After lunch, it was time for our next part of the trip.  Deep into the dusty fields of the Mississippi Delta to visit the grave sites of some great and legendary blues performers.  Although this was the second leg of our trip, I'm going to dedicate my next post out of order and discuss the third leg of our trip to the Emmitt Till markers.

I just didn't want to end the stories with one which breaks my heart.

Until next time...

Just seen on side of the road and loved it.

No comments:

Post a Comment