Still Got The Blues

“Never before have we had so little time in which to do so much”

Franklin Delanor Roosevelt

The story of the Blues in Mississippi and Louisiana is an amazing tale and if one really makes an effort to delve into its rich history one must have time to spare.

In our last post we began our journey along The Blues Trail in Memphis traveling south to Clarksdale in a “A Blues Sojourn”

In this post we continue to follow Highway 61 south to New Orleans and along the way we find much more than just the blues.

In Mississippi and Louisiana there are other trails to follow such as the Indian Mound Trail, The Mississippi River Trail, the Country Music Trail, Natchez Trace Parkway Trail and one of my favorites, the BBQ Trail.

A few of the historic photos and videos displayed in this post were taken while visiting the many museums we encountered along the way.

A stop at the Dockery Farm Plantation enabled us to wander through the cotton gin where the blues is said to have originated. Charley Patton worked and played here in the 1920’s and 30’s.
Dockery Plantation
Dockery Farms
Tim And The Pups Wait For Service
The small town of Morehead, Mississippi is where the Southern Railroad crossed the Yazoo Delta Railway also known as the “The Yellow Dog “.
Morehead Mississippi

This important rail crossing caused Morehead to became a major gathering point where a few white folk and many black folks came together on the weekends to celebrate the end of a hard week of manual labor.

They shopped, socialized, and generally turned the town into a mini-Mardi Gras. The streets and sidewalks were so packed you could hardly walk. 
Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson reportedly played together in Morehead in the 1930’s.  For a time Morehead’s local juke joints became the central point for the blues.
Morehead Railroad Trestle
BB King Museum Indianola

In Indianola, near the birthplace of BB King, we spent the night in the BB King Museum parking lot. The building is constructed on the plantation site where BB once worked as a boy.

A Young BB King
Some Of BB’s Guitars

The museum exhibits are wonderfully displayed with many important artifacts from BB’s life.  The museum also includes an excellent presentation about life in the delta.

Getting To Know Betty And Otha At Betty’s Place in Indianola (Great BBQ And Super Friendly Folks)

 

Downtown Indianoloa

Arriving in historic Vicksburg, we were in for a real surprise. Situated on a high bank above the river it was easy to get a feel for what life along the river must have been like in the early days.

The Mississippi River has long played a major part in the historical, economic and residential development of Vicksburg.

Vicksburg’s best known contribution to American history is probably the part it played in the epic conflict known as the Civil War. The National Cemetery holds over 17,000 soldiers graves.

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Willie Dixon, often called ‘the poet laureate of the blues,’ was born in Vicksburg on July 1, 1915.

As a songwriter, producer, arranger and bass player Willie shaped the sound of the Chicago blues in the 1950s and ’60s with songs such as Little Red Rooster, Hoochie Coochie Man and Wang Dang Doodle.

Mural Of Willie Dixon In Vicksburg

Willie traced many of his works back to poems and songs he heard or wrote as a youth in Vicksburg.

Stern Wheeler Tours In Vicksburg

In 1800’s Vicksburg, riverboat travel up and down the Mississippi was fraught with danger. Many sandbars and river bends were littered with the remains of hundreds of sunken boats.

Mural Of The Early Vicksburg Riverfront

With cotton being the primary cash crop in the surrounding counties it caused Vicksburg to became a bustling place with dozens of paddle wheelers coming and going daily.

Paddlewheeler Loaded With Cotton Near Baton Rouge

The Blues Trail parallels the Natchez Trace Parkway as it passes through Tennessee and Mississippi.

The Trace is a 444-mile scenic road that roughly follows the “Old Natchez Trace” the  historic travel corridor used by American Indians, “Kaintucks,” European settlers, slave traders, soldiers, and future presidents.

The Trace Today

This All American Road is maintained by the National Park Service, to commemorate the original route of the Trace. 

Access onto the parkway is limited and commercial traffic is forbidden making for a leisurely driving experience as it passes through dense forests.

“Kaintucks” known as boatmen would float their flatboats down the Mississippi River to sell their goods at the markets in Natchez and New Orleans. 

A Boatman and His Flatboat

Before riverboats had the ability to go upstream under their own power, boatmen had to return home by making the long walk north along the Natchez Trace.

In 1885 The Mount Locust Inn became a rest stop along the Trace for weary travelers and today remains one of oldest known structures along the trace.
Mount Locus Inn Along The Trace
By accident we stumble upon the Gulf Port Military Monument Park situated on the banks of the mighty river.
Gulf Port Building

Located eight miles northwest of Port Gibson, this 400 acre landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fort Coburn, Fort Wade, the Grand Gulf Cemetery, a great museum, campgrounds, hiking trails, an observation tower, and several restored buildings dating back to Grand Gulf’s heyday are all located within the park.

In the museum, you can trace the development of Grand Gulf through early photographs, maps and authentic artifacts that were found in the area.

Union and Confederate uniforms, cannon balls, and muskets are on display to tell of the fierce fighting that took place during the latter stages of the Civil War.

LuLu Enjoys The Afternoon in Gulf Port Military Park
If you are passing through this part of Mississippi we highly recommend this jewel of a park to anyone interested in the history of the Civil War and what life along the river was like. It is also a great place to camp. 
Unquestionably one of the most distinctive cities of the New World is New Orleans. 
The strategic position commanding the mouth of the great Mississippi-Missouri River system, made it a very important place during the struggles for the control of North America.
Mural Of The French Quarter
New Orleans is generally credited as the birthplace of jazz music but its deep roots remain in the blues.
New Orleans created its own form of blues, sort of a sub-genre with a variation of Louisiana blues that developed in the 1940’s and 1950’s in and around the city.
Strongly influenced by jazz and incorporated with Caribbean influences, it is dominated by piano and saxophone which helped produce many guitar bluesmen.
 
New Orleans is completely surrounded by swamps and marshes with an elevation that ranges from below sea level to approximately six feet at the highest point.
The Levee system is a marvel of engineering that amazes me as to how it all works.
The Garden District
Today the population of New Orleans reflects a unique blend of culture, society and heritage.
The never-ending uniqueness of the city creates a visual treat for the eyes, a rhythmic beat for the ears and an explosion of tastes for the palette.
The French Quarter At Night
Finding an RV park within walking distance of the French Quarter allowed us to spend more time exploring this unique part of the city.
Early Morning Beignet With Chicory Coffee
We ate, drank and listened our way through the heart of this fascinating place.

Our trip down Highway 61 began in Memphis and continued through Tunica, Clarksdale, Indianola,Vicksburg, Natchez and now ends in New Orleans.

Lafayette Cemetery Number One

The music that was generated during that time period is now part of its past, but if you listen closely, you will re-discover the rich powerful history of the people who helped build America and create one of the most influential genres of popular music.

 

It has been an enlightening experience for us to have traveled through the part of our nation where slavery, its agricultural practices, the Civil War and Segregation helped shape what we witness in the south today.  

For us Alaskans it was kind of a mind blowing journey.

Slip in the ear pods, crank the stereo but don’t miss our latest video ” Still Got The Blues”

 

 

We now will head west again and back into deserts…..keep you posted!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!!

 

 

14 thoughts on “Still Got The Blues

  1. Loved the perspective taken with the photo of the trees reflected in the window flanked by weathered blue-green shutters! It took my breath away! Who took that photo, Denise or Tim?

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  2. Happy New Year friends. We are so glad to keep up through your fabulous posts. Hawaii again with the kids at Christmas…see you this summer. Sonja and Short

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    1. Thanks Sonja, unfortunately we arrived in So Cal just in time for the a nasty flu season and most of us got it except for Denise, my mom is in the hospital with phenomena, we will be here for awhile yet. Hope you all are enjoying the sun and surf in the islands, Tim

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  3. What a fabulous trip! We’ve been to Memphis (loved it) and New Orleans (loved it!) and now need to fill in the in-between. The Blues Trail and Natchez Trace are both on our list. Thanks for the tantalizing taste of what awaits!

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    1. Thank for the nice comments, even after spending a 1 1/2 months in the south we just scratched the surface of things to see and do though glad we are not there now (winter) but we must return soon! Happy New Year!

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  4. First, a very Merry Christmas to you and your family. Nice to be home, slip on the buds and enjoy your vid surrounded by NOBODY. Love the post…but admit I went straight to the video. Soundtrack is great, so much so, I went and purchased a few of Watermelon Slim & The Worker’s tracks. Love em!

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  5. Very nice, tim. I’m very concerned though, about that little blue car that keeps following you so closely. Merry Christmas

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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