We’ve got not one, but two major road trips planned for this year, which is unusual for us. In August we’re tentatively (or better) planning a trip out to Vancouver, but before that comes the trip where I’m hoping for a bit of advice. Near the end of May, we’re heading down to Georgia (just outside Atlanta) for a wedding. We’ll arrive a few days early, leaving us time for a full day at a beach along the Atlantic coast as well as the part of the trip we haven’t told the kids about yet — we’ve arranged for a three days and nights at a certain popular attraction in Orlando. Let it be said that the whole prospect of said overpopular attraction has never thrilled me. I’m not into rides or cartoon characters walking around, nor am I into the prices that said attraction commands. But this is for the kids. And the wife… though I’ve been assured I’ll enjoy it as well. Hey, vicarious enjoyment is still some kind of enjoyment, right?
We like to travel on the cheap for the most part… breakfast in the hotel and one meal from a supermarket deli is a pretty typical day, so we only spring for one restaurant a day. We try to find free or cheap activities as much as we can — there’s so much to see and do just paying attention to the scenery. The drive from Winnipeg down through Kansas City and St. Louis will be mostly just “blasting through” with a more leisurely pace once we get into the south. By the way, if anyone has beach recommendations for the Atlantic north of Orlando, let me know.
But here’s the good part. On the trip back, I’ve sold a detour through at least part of the Mississippi Delta. Yup. Birthplace of the Blues. I think that’s what it took to get me really looking forward to the trip. Unfortunately we don’t have time to get as far south as N’Awlins, but it looks like we’ll have about a day and a night to play with, probably spending the night in Clarksdale. We’ll get to drive part of U.S. Route 61, The Blues Highway, and will be able to visit what has been designated as the famous crossroads where Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil. There’s the Delta Blues Museum to hit unless I get some caveats, and should be other fun stuff in the area. Now, I’ve never been to Mississippi before, so I’m wondering… if anyone knows the area or considers themselves a Blues aficionado, I’d appreciate some advice on things we might want to do and see during a brief passage through the area. We’re going to give Graceland a miss, preferring to spend more time in the cradle of Blues Legends instead, hoping to hear the road sing. Hey, The Blues are deeply spiritual, biblical even. Why wouldn’t we hear it?
In the meantime, I’ve dug out my CDs of Robert Johnson, The Complete Recordings and I’m going to try and cue up The Chess Story: 1947-1975. But I’d like to hear anyone’s recommendations, particularly if they’ve been through that area. Bear in mind we’ll have a just-turned-ten year-old and a 6½-year-old in tow, and so far my wife doesn’t quite get the appeal. I’ve got some time to work on that, so will have to sort out primers for her and the kids. Has anyone ever been to the Ground Zero Blues Club or stayed at the Shack Up Inn? Hey, if anyone just wants to talk abut the Blues, the floor is open. Favorite artist?
Da Blues! What a great topic and a brilliant insight on the intellectual prowess and cultured taste of Brother Maynard. :-) When it comes to music, the Blues and Folk have no peers IMHO.
One can’t think Blues without mentioning some of the greats like Howling Wolf doing “Moaning at Midnight,” Son House singing “John the Revelator” or the sizzling Chicago Blues sound of the likes of Hound Dog Taylor. But on a more contemporary note, here are some of the tracks I listen to often.
R.L. Burnside: “Miss Maybelle” or the somber “Hard Time Killin Floor Blues”
Nobby Reed Project: “Cure for the Blues” and “Praying the Blues”
Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band: “Key to the Highway” and “But I Forgive You Blues”
Charlie Musselwhite: “Homeless Child,” “Train to Nowhere,” or “Sanctuary”
Mark Lemhouse: “Edwin’s Lament”
I could go on forever, but I’d love to hear a few suggested title you love.
While in Delta country, if you get a chance to hear R.L. Burnside, don’t miss it.
Well, you will not be seeing R.L. Burnside, just learn he died. Sad.
i know a free bed and breakfast in central Alabama, complete with a horse ride and a some intensely quiet country. No kidding. if y’all could swing just a little west, we’d love to have you. Atlanta is 3 hours from here.
Wow, that’s tempting, Cindy! We’re planning to head from Atlanta to the Mississippi Delta, so would be passing through Birmingham as it is. Dropping in would probably extend our trip by a day, but our plans aren’t firm yet. Would be cool to connect, will drop you an email either way.
Rick, thanks for the recommendations. Surprising there aren’t more blues-lovers out there. For my part, my jazz collection is more extensive so I’m looking forward to perhaps exploring some blues and balancing out the CD shelves. “John the Revelator” is one of my faves. It was Son House that started the rumour about Robert Johnson’s soul, wasn’t it?
Oh … so your plans won’t be taking you anywhere near Virginia? There’s a free b&b here too … no horses, but we do serve good beer and coffee.
Goin’ down to the Delta is really one of the best things you can do. I went down there for the first time in 2005: a dream come true. Friendly people everywhere, a great atmosphere and lots of live music.
Now, two visits later and preparing for the third one I’ve got my own website with the stories of our experiences down South. Maybe some people out there get inspired and also decide to have the time of their life.
Good luck to you,
Dronten, The Netherlands