Visit Natchez: A Must Do On The Great American Music Trail

Includes Photo Gallery. By Chilly Billy

Visit Natchez, a must do on the Great American Music Trail

Visit Natchez and see Longwood, the unfinished dream home.

Visit Natchez and see Longwood, the unfinished dream home.

Natchez is an enchanting city located on the bluffs above America’s main vein, the mighty Mississippi River. Presently dealing with many of the conundrums of Southern cities historically tied to agriculture, oil, or dissipating industry, Natchez is not giving up the ghost. It is indeed a fine town and wonderful overnight place to visit between Clarksdale and New Orleans, traveling the Great American Music Trail.

Madge and I try to vacation once every year or two, as money and time allow, in our own backyard, so to speak. The Delta Bohemian®—two overnight B&B’s, an online blog of sorts and Delta Bohemian Tours—is vested in the Mississippi Delta’s creative economy, and we want to support other creative economies in our great state, as well as better understand what our guests experience before and after arriving in our fair city. Plus, we want to judiciously know what to recommend to future guests.

Our homeport of Clarksdale is providentially located smack dab in the center of America’s music trail, which slides like a broken coke bottle on a guitar string all the way down from Nashville via Memphis to New Orleans.

Though Mississippi remains the butt of many jokes across the United States, folks the world over know and are figurin’ out that we ain’ all bad, we mighty damn friendly, and we got some cool stuff going on. Just ask any lovers and appreciators of music, architecture, literature, multimedia art, riparian magnificence, or those with serious Epicurean addictions.

As previously mentioned, many travelers vacation in the Southern United States and follow a well-traversed vein on the Americana Music Triangle. Many tourists spend a few nights in Nashville, a few in Memphis, at least one to two in Clarksdale (always regretting their departure), then a night in Vicksburg or Natchez before heading to New Orleans for several nights. Or, they run the route vice versa.

The drive from New Orleans to Clarksdale or Clarksdale to New Orleans is a long haul for the laconic expeditionist lollygagging from town to town, intentionally avoiding the cares of home. Natchez is a perfect stopover town abundantly blessed by antebellum homes, with monolithic grandeur that would cause a Rockefeller, Hearst, or Vanderbilt to say: “DUDE!”

While on our down-time trip, we experienced unparalleled customer service with every single encounter over a three-day period in Natchez. Every housekeeper, waiter, tour guide, convenience store clerk, hostess, museum employee, desk associate, etc. was friendly, helpful, and anxious to assist. Unparalleled! And, that’s saying something in the felicitous Deep South, where most all of us ask perfect strangers, “How’s your Mama and ‘em doin’!

Natchez has much to tender the tourist, and we only got to experience a sliver of its offerings, but we did visit the incredible unfinished home known as Longwood with its ¾’s of a million bricks and over 300,000 board feet of cypress. The Adams County Welcome Center located inside the Natchez Visitor Reception Center was a delightful treat. The Natchez Grand Hotel was a wonderful, amenity-laden traditional hotel with an awesome view of the river and bridge. And, our serendipitous visit with good friend Tommy Polk and his Lady Fair, Elodie—a true Southern Belle with the pedigree to prove it—was the highlight of a lifetime.

Tommy and Elodie have three B&B’s called Shanty Bellum, Shanty Bellum Too, and Shanty Bellum Juke Joint. They are incredible and you can see pics of them in this post. Elodie also has a blog called Shantybellum, presenting rich histories and humor about life in Natchez, past and present.

We are attaching a hysterical poem written by her inimitable father, aptly describing the blue-blood Natchez culture of old, but not that old. Gotta love the South! If not, don’t visit, or better yet, do visit Natchez and be changed and awakened! Cheers! Chilly Billy

Poem by Elodie Pritchartt’s father as published in “Howard’s Revenge” on Shantybellum.

If you doubts your social fame,
git an old house and give it a name.
If you still lacks social position,
git it put in the Pink Edition.
If your position is still not clear,
git it decorated by a Natchez queer.

But, really, the mostest important of all
Is finagle your brat into the Pilgrimage Ball.
But really the mostest, most ultimate thing
Is finagle the brat into Queen or King.

We’re all aware of the social mystique
that sticks to the gal with the finest antique.
So, ladies, ladies, let’s hold a quorum,
to see who’ll rule the Antiques Forum.
To us this is now our holiest cause,
since we’s all well into menopause.

So you give a luncheon and I’ll give a tea.
And I’ll snub you and you snub me.
And when it’s all over, we’ll make our amends,
pretending to be the closest of friends.

What makes it all so goddamned funny
Is all it takes is a little money.
And when it’s all over, we’ll have to admit
The whole damned thing is a big pile of…
old furniture.

~~ Howard Pritchartt, Jr.
circa 1985

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  1. Mike Lucas says:

    Thanks for the article on Natchez. We were there 2 years ago and loved it. Also great to get word on Tommy Polk. We had met his mom in Clarksdae maybe 10 years ago while staying at Honey Hill.

  2. Thank you for such a wonderful review of our beautiful town. Please come back anytime and let us show you even more of this magical place! So enjoyed meeting you both.

    • Thank you for commenting, Elodie. Billy and I have often spoken about our evening shared with you and Tommy. We will forever cherish it.

      We will come back….for sure!! Thank you for the welcoming invitation. Much love to you both.

      Madge XO

    • BILLY HOWELL says:

      What a doll you are, Elodie! Thank you for sharing your home, history and warmth with us! We will be back for sure! Much love, Billy 😃

  3. Sandy and Ed says:

    LOVE the poem!!! Great information! We have been to Natchez a couple of times but now have new things to see on the next trip. – especially Longwood!!

    • BILLY HOWELL says:

      Thanks, Sandy & Ed! Y’all always bless us and your encouragement about Natchez was a bit of a catalyst for our visit! Cheers! Billy 😃

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