Home of the Blues is a title that Clarksdale, in Coahoma County, Mississippi wears well. The county’s western border is the Mississippi River and it is part of the Mississippi Delta Region.
Clarksdale was developed at the former intersection of two Indian trade routes, the Lower Creek Trade Path and the Chakchiuma Trade Trail. Following the Indian Removal Act in 1848, John Clark founded the town of Clarksdale.
City History – The Blues
The city has been historically significant in the history of the blues. Supposedly, sometime in the mid-30s Robert Johnson, who was good on the harmonica but a terrible guitar player, went to the crossroads intersection of Hwy 61 and Hwy 49 where he supposedly sold his soul to the devil to master the blues guitar. A tribute to him now stands at this intersection. Clarksdale is also home to the Delta Blues Museum, Ground Zero Blues Club and many music festivals such as the Juke Joint Festival.
The city sits on the banks of the Sunflower River which is the main tributary of the Yazoo River, which lends its name to the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival. This festival draws audiences from New Zealand, Italy, Japan, Germany, from Paris France to Bangkok, Thailand. All affirm Clarksdale as the cradle of the blues. It has celebrated over 30 years and ranks as one of the top ten cities in America where you can hear authentic music. It is the only place in the Mississippi Delta where live blues music is heard seven nights a week.
The City of Clarksdale is host to several festivals:
- Juke Joint Festival & Related events—4/11-14, 2019–Over 100 blues acts!!
- Second Street Blues Party I (Juke Fest Fri & Sun)—4/11-14, 2019
- Cat Head Mini Blues Party I (Juke Fest Sunday)—4/16, 2019
- Clarksdale Caravan Music Fest (post-BMAs)—5/11, 2019
- Goat Fest V—5/31-6/2, 2019
- Sunflower River Blues & Gospel festival—8/9-11, 2019
- Cat Head Mini Blues Fest II (Sunflower Fest Sunday) 8/11, 2019
- Second Street Blues Party II (King Biscuit Weekend) 10/5-6 2019
- Cat Head Mini Blues Fest III (King Biscuit Sunday)—10/6, 2019
- MS Tennessee Williams Festival—10/10-12, 2019
- Deep Blues Fest (Cat Head/Rock & Blues Museum)—10/17-20, 2019
Plus, watch for 2019 dates “soon” for Mississippi Sax Fest (May), Pinetop Masterclass (June) Cruzn The Crossroads Car Show, or Hambone (Oct—through usually Halloween weekend) in Clarksdale.