We were full of excitement and anticipation about the next leg of this “Discover” journey, which would take us to the Birthplace of the Blues in the small Delta town of Clarksdale, MS. But, to get there we had to go to and through Batesville, which just happened to have a place called The Caramel Factory store. Hmmm, we thought. Better check it out.
Apparently, we weren’t alone in our interest because the caramel icing sold by the store was chosen to be featured on QVC. Counting on, we stopped in our tracks. What’s that place? It’s (apparently) the largest indoor flea market in Mississippi and it’s housed in what was once an old cotton warehouse.
They say, “One person’s junk is another person’s treasure”.
Rorie makes new friends wherever we go.
Time to head out to The Crossroads: Clarksdale here we come. Our 40-mile journey to Clarksdale from Batesville took us through farmland (lots of gin mills too…cotton, not alcohol). As we approached the town we noticed a lot of boarded-up stores. That wasn’t the revitalized town we were expecting or hoping to find in the Birthplace of the Blues. In spite of the deterioration of some of the building facades in town, music is “alive and living at several clubs in downtown Clarksdale. The Paramount Theater opened in 1918 and was one of the first theaters in the area to be built mainly for showing movies.
The Delta Cinema was built in 1940 with a whopping 2 screens and 500 seats.
The original Roxy Theater was built in the late 1940s by the Rossie family and the New Roxy was an expansion of it. Besides showing movies, it hosted live musicians including Sam Cooke and Muddy Waters. After sitting vacant for years, it was bought in 2008 with the intention of restoring it.
Colorful murals featuring famous musicians cover buildings throughout the town.
As part of the Mississippi Blues Trail, there is so much history in Clarksdale worth preserving.
And the Delta Blues Museum does just that. It’s the world’s first museum devoted strictly to the Blues, and Mississippi’s oldest music museum. Housed in the town’s original freight depot, the Museum tells the story of famous blues musicians including Muddy Waters, BB King, Bo Diddley, Ike Turner, and Big Mama Thornton.
Located at the intersection of Highways 61 and 49, legend has it that “The Crossroads” is where the famous blues musician Robert Leroy Johnson” sold his soul to the devil”, disappeared, and then re-emerged as a guitar phenom and “King of the Delta Blues”.
If you don’t believe Robert Johnson’s story, then you gotta believe that Abe’s BBQ, located right at the Crossroads, is a true legend! Opened in 1924, it’s the oldest continuously operated BBQ joint in Mississippi. Locals and famous musicians alike eat here whenever they’re nearby. You know we had to try a BBQ pork sandwich covered in slaw before hitting the road again. Wiping the last smear of BBQ sauce off our faces and humming the blues, we headed out to our next destination…Bella Vista, Arkansas.