Clarksdale, Mississippi: Going Back In Time
I had never heard of this historical city before Lauren Mitchell told me about it. She spent a week there last summer recording some music. Yesterday, we took a day trip and what a trip it was. We started in Memphis, TN and headed to the Mississippi Delta Region stopping along the way on the Mississippi Blues Trail to visit the grave site of “Memphis Minnie.”
When we pulled into Clarksdale it was like going Back In Time. Lots of nostalgia, many old historic buildings and to be perfectly honest, a lot of boarded up buildings and poverty. That did not stop my mission. I wanted to find out what this historic city is all about. We first went to visit a friend of Lauren’s, Gary Vincent of Vincent Productions. He has a recording studio in Memphis and The Clarksdale Sound Stage in association with Ground Zero Blues Club. What a facility and Gary is a really cool guy!
We then went walking all over town. Lauren was our tour guide. Because it was Martin Luther King Day, most establishments were closed. Lauren remembered a place that she wasn’t able to visit last summer, “Red’s” Juke Joint.” Out front, there was a great big BBQ Smoker, with a local resident doing the smoking! We chatted for awhile and then went inside. I have never, ever seen anything like it, a real “Juke Joint.” Absolutely nothing fancy about this place. In fact, the place hasn’t been touched in years. We met “Red” who is one special man. That story for another day. We ordered beers for everyone. No fancy bar, no refrigerator. Just beer in a great big picnic cooler. Talk about doing it down & real. Then the next think you know, a fellow walks up to Lauren and says, “hey, aren’t you Lauren Mitchell? I thought it was a set up! Well it wasn’t. Some folks from the Ontario Blues Society in Canada who are competing in the IBC’s and by chance stopped in to see Red. The next thing you know Lauren and Chuckee Zehr were jammin’ on a Monday afternoon in Clarksdale, MS. How cool.
We hung out at Red’s for about an hour and a half and then strolled through town. Now, then next thing was surreal. Many of you know that my company is responsible for the Sarasota Film Festival Website. Well, right in the middle of Clarksdale there is this old time movie theater and on the marquis, “The Clarksdale Film Festival!” Another wow. I started talking to the locals to get the real deal about what it was all about. Again, a story for another day!
We were tired and hungry, so before leaving town we stopped at “Abe’s BBQ.” Now, Abe’s is the real deal! Absolutely finger licking, fantastic! I could go on and on about this great town, home of Ike Turner, Johnny Lee Hooker, Junior Parker and so many more. Check out “Wikepdia” to get all of the information.
I have so much more to write about Clarksdale. In this article, I just wanted to give you a taste. We headed back to Memphis, had some dinner and called it a night. In my next article, I will write about our visit to “Sun Studios” and our tour of the “Gibson Guitar” factory. Stay tuned!
On a personal note: Thanks to Lauren Mitchell and the boys for inviting me on this trip. I would have never done this on my own.