Clarksdale Music Venues Sound Off for the Americana Music Triangle (AMT)

Birth of the New Figure Eight

Bernadette Messina and Mary Ann Hollowell at Helena's Club 21 for Americana Music Triangle

Bernadette Messina and Mary Ann Hollowell at Helena’s Club 21 for Americana Music Triangle



The recent Americana Music Triangle’s (AMT) “Gold Record Road” celebration in Clarksdale was reminiscent of the Clarksdale of my teens. Vietnam had ended, light beer was being brewed, and the coolest thing for white teens was to cruise the figure-eight path through Sonic and McDonalds, conveniently cockeyed on opposite sides of Desoto Avenue.

The energy on Desoto and inside the figure eight was palpable, enervating 70’s-era Dudes who knew the path to glory or ignominy—scoring chicks or not—was via the repetitious figure-eight. Not like it mattered in my case. Babes were not exactly slipping into my window at night, begging for me to buy them a foot-long cheese coney and lemonade slush to go with a half-pint of Cherry Vodka.

Driving the serpentine, repetitious route all night long hunting the elusive split-tail doe was a Delta boy’s primal mandate, but the chicks dug it, too. It’s what we did in Clarksdale, just like what some of us do now: listen to blues and other roots music weekly in our local Clarksdale music venues.

Our fair city has live music 365 days a year. Not many burbs populated with around 17,000 folks can boast such. In fact, our daily Clarksdale music venues are posted at the bottom of this article. In my aging state, I now only make it out for live music a couple days a week, and Madge, wedding planner at the moment, gets out even less.

The recently recognized AMT’s “Gold Record Road” covering 1,500 miles and 9 music genres connects “New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville and all the small towns, juke joints, honky tonks and dance halls in between.” The nine genres include: Blues—Clarksdale’s very own genesis genre, Jazz, Country, Rock & Roll, R&B/Soul, Gospel, Southern Gospel, Cajun/Zydeco, and Bluegrass.

On Wednesday, May 7th, the AMT kicked off in these parts across the MS River in Helena, home to the King Biscuit Flour Hour and King Biscuit Blues Festival. A bus full of AMT tourists visited Helena and heard one of the Delta Bohemian’s favorite musicians. The indomitable Lucious Spiller played at Club 21, an occasional pop-up juke joint. The AMT crew was feted the next day at a reception at the Clarksdale Tourism Train Depot with dinner following at the newly relocated Oxbow Restaurant.

Lucious Spiller performing at pop-up juke joint Club 21 in Helena for Americana Music Triangle group
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The Blackwater Trio performing for Americana Music Triangle group at Clarksdale Tourism Train Depot
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Friday saw the commencement of the new figure eight. Music was everywhere, as it often is on Fridays, but there was a lot more music around town to celebrate the AMT and its potential economic and cultural boosts for the towns on the Gold Record Road.

After a mid-afternoon reception at Ground Zero Blues Club, AMT’ers enjoyed music at no less than 10 Clarksdale music venues. Most had a very reasonable cover of $5 and Madge and I couldn’t decide which ones to visit, so we just cruised around for several hours doing a symbolic figure eight drive by all the venues, speaking with proprietor, musician and reveler alike.

It felt like old times with a new twist. So, twist and shout yo’self down to Clarksdale, Mississippi, birthplace of the music encapsulated and heralded on the new Gold Record Road on the Americana Music Triangle.

CLARKSDALE MUSIC VENUES (daily and periodic):

MONDAY NIGHT: 1. Bluesberry Café on Yazoo Ave. 2. Hopson Commissary at Hopson Plantation a couple miles south of town on Hwy. 49. Also, Rust at the Shack Up Inn at Hopson will sometimes spontaneously have Monday night tunes.

TUESDAY NIGHT: Dixie and Stan Street’s Hambone Gallery on East 2nd St.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: 1. Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club on Delta Ave. 2. Club 2000 on Issaquena Ave. 3. The New Roxy Theater, next door to Club 2000, often has New World Wednesdays with drink, fellowship, other activities and sometimes music.

THURSDAY NIGHT: 1. Ground Zero Blues Club 2. New Roxy’s “Adhel’s Blues Thursday. 3. Hambone Gallery 4. Red’s Lounge will occasionally open on Thursday, but one has to either drive by, check with Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art’s Roger Stolle, or holla at one of our area’s many innkeepers, including Poor William here with Clark House Residential Inn and tour guide for the always evolving and never quite the same, Delta Bohemian Back Road Excursions.

FRIDAY NIGHT: 1. Red’s Lounge downtown 2. Ground Zero Blues Club 3. Stone Pony Pizza.

SATURDAY NIGHT: 1. Red’s Lounge 2. Ground Zero Blues Club 3. Hopson Commissary.

SUNDAY NIGHT: Red’s Lounge.

OTHER AREA NON-SCHEDULED MUSIC VENUES INCLUDE: Rust Restaurant at the Shack Up Inn, Yazoo Pass Bistro, Delta Blues Alley, occasional buskers on the street, and other pop-up spots I probably ain’ even covering here. The Delta is organic, spontaneous, and operates on river time, which ain’ no time at all.

Official Americana Music Triangle Launch Slideshow Video
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