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Clarksdale Mississippi
Clarksdale Mississippi

Baby Blues drumline, Juke Joint Festival, Clarksdale, MS April 14, 2012

If the Shack Up Inn evokes one kind of Mississippi past, Clarksdale’s Riverside Hotel evokes another. It was once the African-American hospital where blues legend Bessie Smith died (her room is a shrine to her that is not rented), and from the 1940’s on has been a hotel. Frank “Rat” Ratcliff is the owner, and can tell the visitor all the famous blues and soul legends who have stayed there. While it isn’t fancy, and while the rooms don’t have private bathrooms, it is clean and extremely difficult to get a room there during Juke Joint Festival

Walking south down Sunflower Avenue from Red’s Juke Joint, I came to another juke joint that I had never seen before called Pete’s Bar and Grill. I was hot from walking, and stopped in to sit at the bar and enjoy a cold coke, listening to some great southern soul music on the speakers inside. 

The Stax Academy and Soulsville Charter School operate in the South Memphis neighborhood where Stax Records was located. The Academy trains young people to be musicians, while the charter school is a publically-funded high school. The Stax Academy drumline was in Clarksdale during Juke Joint Festival warming up for their performance on the Delta Blues Museum Stage. 

Juke Joint Festival, Clarksdale, MS April 14, 2012

Crankshaft is a one-man blues band that has a somewhat alternative rock approach to the blues. Here he was performing in the parking lot beside Ground Zero during Juke Joint Fest in Clarksdale, April 14, 2012

Channel Ziltch is a bizarre television-themed performance venue in Clarksdale, located next door to the highly-acclaimed Southern cuisine lunch restaurant Oxbow. Juke Joint Festival, April 14, 2012

The Baby Blues Drumline at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale

The Baby Blues Drum Line is comprised of young Memphis drummers who are amazingly talented for their young age. They frequently appear at Memphis events, but it was unexpected to encounter them at Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale. Wherever they go, they always attract a crowd. 

Louis “Gearshifter” Youngblood performs at the Cat Head Music and Folk Art stage in Clarksdale, MS at Juke Joint Festival, April 14, 2012

Austin “Walking” Cane performs at the Stone Pony stage on Delta Avenue in Clarksdale during the Juke Joint Festival, April 14, 2012