Day Trippin'

In addition to the Rock & Blues Museum at 113 E. 2nd Street, there’s so much more to see and do when you’re here. So plan to stay another day and get on Delta time . . .

ALCAZAR HOTEL - 127 Third Street -  Blues Trail Marker Ike Turner: The Alcazar Hotel was once one of the premier hotels in the South. The four-story brick building was built by Charles O. Pfiel in 1915. Exterior details of the hotel include tri-partite wood windows, decorative brickwork, cast stone detailing, and a terra cotta cornice. Originally, the hotel had a spectacular glass dome skylight on the second floor which provided natural light down to the first floor lobby. The Alcazar once hosted such guests as playwright Tennessee Williams. The hotel is best known, perhaps, for being the location where WROX radio station broadcasted for nearly 40 years. Legends like Ike Turner, Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Muddy Waters and many others performed live and were interviewed at the station by Early Wright, one of the South’s first black disc jockeys.

BELLE-CLARK MANSION - 211 Clark Street:  Built by Clarksdale’s founder John Clark in 1859 and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Originally on a site overlooking the Sunflower River, Clark’s daughter Blanche had the mansion put on logs and rolled to it’s current location which is closer to the Cutrer mansion.  Now a B&B. www.clarkhouse.info

BIRDSONG TOURS - Tour Clarksdale and surrounding area with an excursion tailored to suit your interests--blues/historical/agricultural. Call Robert Birdsong at 662-624-6051; mississippimojo@yahoo.com

Carnegie Public Library - 114 Delta Avenue: Wi-Fi   The library houses an American Indian exhibit featuring pottery and other artifacts of the local Indian people who inhabited Clarksdale for thousands of years.  Internet and Wi-Fi available.   Open Mon.-Thur. from 9am to 5:30pm; Fri. from 9am to 5pm; Sat. 9am-1pm  662.624.4461  www.youseemore.com/carnegie

CARNEGIE PUBLIC LIBRARY ARCHAEOLOGY COLLECTION - 114 Delta Avenue:  Collection of Mississippi pottery, artifacts and archaeological research materials.  Open Mon-Thurs 9am-5:30pm; Fri 9am-5pm; Sat 9am-1pm Closed national Holidays, Admission free     662.624.4461

CLARKSDALE WALK OF FAME - Markers dedicated to individuals from or who have made signifiant contributions to Coahoma County and who have national or international acclaim. Plaques have been placed in the sidewalk at the following locations in and around downtown:

  1. Sam Cooke - New Roxy Theater, 357 Issaquena Avenue
  2. Foster Wiley “Mr. Tater” - Club 2000, Issaquena Avenue
  3. Muddy Waters - Clarksdale Station Train Depot, Blues Alley
  4. Tennessee Williams - St. George’s Episcopal Church Rectory, 108 Sharkey Avenue
  5. John Clark - Clark House, 211 Clark Street
  6. ZZ Top - Carnegie Public Library (sidewalk leading up to the old entrance), 114 Delta Avenue
  7. Son House - Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, 252 Delta Avenue
  8. Early Wright - Alcazar Hotel, 127 Third Street
  9. Charlie Conerly - Hambone Art Gallery, 111 East 2nd Street
  10. Perian Conerly - Hambone Art Gallery, 111 East 2nd Street
  11. John Lee Hooker - Sidewalk leading up to the outdoor stage at Yazoo & Blues Alley
  12. Ike Turner - Delta Blues Museum, 1 Blues Alley

THE CROSSROADS  - The intersection of Highways 61 and 49:  The two roads that played major roles in the history, legend and folk lore that is the Delta Blues, now have their intersection marked by a giant Route 61/49 crossroads sign including oversized guitars. Kitsch, yes, but forgivably so.

CUTRER MANSION - 109 Clark Street:  Built in 1916 by J. W. Cutrer and his wife, Blanche Clark Cutrer.  It was their lavish life style that inspired several characters in the works of Tennessee Williams.  Some say the mansion is haunted.  It is now home to the Coahoma County Higher Education Center in partnership between Delta State University and Coahoma Community College.

DELTA BLUES MUSEUM - 1 Blues Alley: The museum is housed in what was once Clarksdale’s freight train depot.  The museum is home to Muddy Water’s cabin as well as clothing, autographed guitars and memorabilia from the Delta’s blues men and women.  Open March thru October: Mon.-Sat. 9am-5pm; November thru February Mon.-Sat. 10am-5pm.   Admission $7 (Coahoma County residents are admitted free)  662.627.6820    www.deltabluesmuseum.org

DELTA BOHEMIAN EXCURSIONS  - Take a Back Road Excursion Tour via Jeep or Lexus with Clarksdale native and co-founder of the Delta Bohemian Billy “Poor William” Howell. Each tour is customized to your particular interests: blues sites, Mississippi River, oxbows, lakes, agriculture, countryside homes and churches, sunset photo ops, you name it. Clarksdale native Poor William will afford you a real and personal Mississippi Delta experience–one you will never forget!Or let him give you a Downtown Clarksdale Pedicab Tour. Riding in an open-air pedicab with Poor William as your guide, while seeing and learning about Clarksdale, will instantly make you feel a part of this unique community! Poor William knows everybody and everybody knows Poor William!   Call, text or email: 662.645.9197 or poorwilliam@deltabohemian.com       www.deltabohemian.com/excursions/

GREYHOUND BUS STATION  - 300 Issaquena Avenue @ Third Street: Soon to be the temporary site of the Rhythm & Blues and Gospel Hall of Fame.  This 1930’s Art Deco-style passenger terminal is perfectly restored.

IKE TURNER’S HOME - 304 Washington Street:  His “Rocket 88” is credited with being the first rock ‘n roll record.  Also, there is now a Blues Trail Marker honoring Ike Turner at the corner of Third and Yazoo near the Alcazar Hotel.

MISSISSIPPI BLUES TRAIL MARKERS in and around Clarksdale: follow these links to the Mississippi Blues Trail Markers website for more information 

  1. Alligator Blues, Alligator, Mississippi
  2. Big Jack Johnson, Red’s Lounge, 395 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale
  3. Delta Blues Museum, 0 Blues Alley, Clarksdale
  4. Hopson Planting Co, Hopson Plantation, Clarksdale
  5. Ike Turner, Corner of Third and Yazoo Avenue, Clarksdale
  6. John Lee Hooker, Vance, Mississippi
  7. Little Junior Parker, Bobo, Mississippi
  8. Mose Allison, Tippo, Mississippi
  9. Muddy Water’s Cabin (original site), Stovall Plantation, Clarksdale
  10. Pinetop Perkins, Belzoni, Mississippi
  11. Po’ Monkey’s, Merigold, Mississippi
  12. Riverside Hotel, 615 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale
  13. Robert Nighthawk, Friars Point, Mississippi
  14. Sam Cooke, New Roxy Theater, 357 Issaquena Avenue, Clarksdale
  15. Sunflower River Blues, John Lee Hooker Lane at the Stage, Clarksdale
  16. The New World District, Issaquena Avenue at Third, Clarksdale
  17. W. C. Handy, Tutwiler, Mississippi
  18. Wade Walton, 317 Issaquena Avenue, Clarksdale
  19. WROX, 257 Delta Avenue, Clarksdale

THE NEW WORLD DISTRICT - Bound by MLK Blvd, Issaquena Ave., the old railroad tracks to Sunflower Ave.:  This is the historic African American business district.  It includes the New Roxy Theater, which was one of the two movie theaters for African-Americans in the days of the segregated South. 

NEW ROXY THEATER - 357 Issaquena Avenue -  Blues Trail Marker Sam Cooke : This former movie theater is located in the Historic New World District of Clarksdale Mississippi.  Renovation began in 2008 after sitting vacant and deteriorating since the mid 1980’s. What remains physically is a shell of the former theater…. a sloping concrete floor, masonry stage, distressed yet beautiful brick walls, a gorgeous view of the night sky and a fabulous feeling that can only be understood when you stand inside. Currently open only for special events which often feature live blues music.  newroxyclarksdale.com

QUAPAW CANOE COMPANY - 291 Sunflower Avenue:  Join artist/musician/outdoorsman John Ruskey on a canoe trip on the mighty Mississippi or the Sunflower River.  Affordable excursions can be as long or as short as you wish.  662.627.4070   www.island63.com

RIVERSIDE HOTEL - 615 Sunflower Avenue - Blues Trail Marker :  In the 1930’s, this was the G. T. Thomas Afro-American Hospital.  Bessie Smith died in the emergency room here following a car wreck on Highway 61.  Mrs. Z. L. Hill purchased and converted the hospital into a hotel in 1944.  Since that time this hotel and boardinghouse has been home to well-known bluesmen including Ike Turner, Robert Nighthawk, Sonny Boy Williamson II and John Lee Hooker.  We’re sad to report that Frank “Rat” Ratliff passed away in March of 2013, but the Riverside is still operating as a hotel with Frank’s daughter Z at the helm.    662.624.9163

SAM COOKE’S HOME - Corner of 7th Street & Illinois Avenue:  Soul music's legendary Sam Cooke was born in Clarksdale in 1931. A Blues Trail Marker honors him outside the New Roxy Theater on Issaquena Avenue.

SMITTY’S RED TOP LOUNGE - 377 Yazoo Avenue: Photos of this legendary juke were featured on both a Jelly Roll King's LP and a Super Chikan CD since both used to play here. Closed but for sale.

STACKHOUSE RECORD MART/ROOSTER BLUES RECORDING STUDIO - 232 Sunflower Avenue:  This was the site of the Rooster Blues Recording Studio in the 1990‘s.  Now open as the Dreamboat BBQ, serving tamales, BBQ and other regional fare.

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS DISTRICT - Sharkey Ave. at First Street, Court and Clark Street:  Clarksdale is the childhood home of playwright Tom “Tennessee” Williams.  His grandfather served as director of St. George’s Episcopal Church and lived in the rectory.  Take a walking tour of the this historic neighborhood that greatly influenced the characters and events in his plays , o.a. The Glass Menagerie, Summer and Smoke, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire.

WADE WALTON’S BARBER SHOP - 317 Issaquena Avenue: Clarksdale’s famous blues barber who not only cut the hair of Ike Turner, Sonny Boy Williamson II and others, but recorded blues on local and international labels. (note: His original shop was at 304 4th Street.)  The original barber chair, stool, counter with sink, Coke machine and storage cabinets are now on display in the Rock & Blues Museum.

WROX MUSEUM - 257 Delta Avenue - Blues Trail Marker :   Once home to Clarksdale’s famous blues radio station WROX and DJ Early Wright.  Open by appointment and during festivals.  662.645.8874

farther on down the road . . .

HOPSON PLANTATION - about 5 minutes south of downtown off Route 49 at Hopson-Pixley Road - Blues Trail Marker :  Hopson Planting Co. and International Harvester revolutionized cotton farming by field testing the first mechanical cotton picker here; one of the original pickers is still on view.  The site is now shared.  The Hopson Commissary, formerly the plantation’s headquarters, is open most weekends with live music and hosts the “Pinetop Perkins Homecoming” each year in October.   On the surrounding grounds, sharecropper’s shacks, out buildings and the old cotton gin comprise the Shack Up Inn and Cotton Gin Inn, Mississippi’s first B&B (beer & breakfast)

MUDDY WATER’S CABIN SITE - On Stovall Road between Lee Drive and Highway 1 - Blues Trail Marker :  A blues trail marker and a granite carved stone now sit on the site of Muddy Water’s family home at Stovall Plantation, just outside Clarksdale. See the flat never-ending expanse of cotton fields where McKinley Morganfield aka “Muddy Waters” drove a tractor before being recorded on his porch by folklorist Alan Lomax in 1941.  A portion of the actual cabin is on display in the Delta Blues Museum.

FRIARS POINT - 15 miles northwest of Clarksdale off Hwy 1:  Located next to the Mississippi River, Friars Point is the former Coahoma County seat (until 1930).  A one-time railroad center for the Riverside line, it was a stop-over for itinerant musicians the likes of Robert Johnson and Robert Nighthawk.  It is also the birthplace of Conway Twitty.  You’ll also find the North Delta Museum here a catchall eclectic display of items ranging from Civil War and Indian artifacts to farm implements.

MOON LAKE - Bound by Highways 1 and 49W:  One of the many crescent-shaped bodies of water (called an “oxbow”) left when the Mississippi River shifted its main channel. Moon Lake is notable as the site of Blanche Dubois’ (in Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire) tragic romance with a young man who committed suicide there. The Moon Lake Casino is now Uncle Henry’s Place and Inn.

HELENA, ARKANSAS:  While located in neither the Delta nor Mississippi, Helena played a large part in the development of Delta blues. Radio station KFFA’s “King Biscuit Time” show gave airtime to many of the Delta’s musicians and was a potent vehicle for selling records and promoting appearances. The Delta Cultural Center, housed in an historic depot, contains exhibits about local history while the DCC Visitors’ Center, on Cherry Street, features displays about the area’s musicians and hosts live weekday broadcasts of “King Biscuit Time.”  About a half hour northwest from Clarksdale, across the Mississippi River.   www.deltaculturalcenter.com


© Rock&Blues Museum 2017