I have refrained from writing about Mississippi until I was able to provide enough New Orleans and Cajun country material for the majority of requests I have received over the years. Indeed, my first love is New Orleans, in all of its diversity and excitement, but over the last eight years of travel to the Mississippi Blues Delta, I have grown to really love this area for its more laid back and simple culture. Simple is not a lower standard, but rather, un-complicated: I love driving for miles through the cotton country landscape, although much of the cotton has been replaced with other crops. I am guaranteed great BBQ ribs, fried catfish and chicken, warm, friendly folks, and blues no matter what little town I hit. I have been to over twenty-five by now, and still exploring. But what I feel now is that Clarksdale is truly the hub of blues music in The Delta!
In California, I began my research of this area in 2008. I had been to several other parts of Mississippi, Gulf Coast (Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, etc.), and Natchez numerous times, but I really wanted to explore the blues music side of Mississippi, and beyond guidebooks and articles, my number one resource was, and remains, ROGER STOLLE, owner of CAT HEAD in Clarksdale. Even though famous actor, MORGAN FREEMAN, has put Clarksdale on the cultural media map, and the town has the wonderful DELTA BLUES MUSEUM, Roger is the town’s biggest cheerleader through his tireless efforts to spread the word, mostly about the true original blues artists that are slowly disappearing. I telephoned him, and was impressed with the time he spent explaining and suggesting places to visit, and venues to watch. When I finally met him in person on my first trip, we had dinner two nights in a row, and have been sharing meals and drinks ever since!! Begin your blues trip at his shop when he is there; you will find him to be the most informative and sincere guide, and you can peruse his extensive blues artists collection, including DVDs that he has produced himself.
If Clarksdale is the hub of the Delta Blues, Cat Head is the hub of Clarksdale food, drink, music and arts. The old downtown where he is located is where most of the entertainment and arts exists, all within a few blocks radius. I often park nearby and leave my car for the day or evening as I visit various friends or cafes. This town has no parking meters, nor meter maids!!
Rather than trying to include so much material about individuals and places in Clarksdale into this one spot, I will write separate stories. This may take awhile!! Be patient; I still work at my business!!