The Checkout Goes To Clarksdale, Mississippi On A Blues Pilgrimage

Apr 18, 2018

We know New Orleans is a top destination for those seeking to understand the roots of jazz. But there’s another American city you should consider for a pilgrimage, to pay homage not only to jazz, but also the blues. That’s Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Robert "Bilbo" Walker at Red's Lounge in Clarksdale
Credit Roger Stolle

Welcome to the epicenter of American roots music in the Mississippi Delta, the literal crossroads of this music, where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil. The Delta also produced Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, Big Jack Johnson, Ike Turner, and so many more. And it's where festival producer Roger Stolle found his calling to celebrate, preserve and perhaps most importantly, revitalize a region that gave so much to him when he was growing up in Ohio.

In this Checkout podcast from the 2017 Juke Joint Blues Festival, we learn about this truly unique place, and about why it’s important to bring more attention and resources to a region that has long been exploited in America’s history. We honor some of the legends of the past in addition to spotlighting current giants — musicians such as Super Chikan, Lucious Spiller, Terry "Harmonica" Bean, Robert Lee "Lil” Poochie Watson, and Hezekiah Early.

If you want to hear more, also listen to our full one hour episode Talent And Tourism Keep Blues Alive in Clarksdale, Mississippi, produced by Jazz Night In America.

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