Juke joint Festival – Clarksdale MS

5.37am, Friday 17th April, Barossa Valley, SA, Australia

Morning folks, back in the Barossa Valley and time to catch up with the Vintage Festival which is in full swing…..but first, here’s a picture postcard story of one of the best music fists I’ve ever seen – the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale – smack bang in the middle of the Mississippi Delta…..a big flat runway of row crops and pecan groves that hugs the River and runs from south of Tunica down to north of Vicks burg and Jackson. This is for all intents and purposes the birthplace of the Blues…..and if you’re a complete novice to that musical world – like me – then the easiest way to explore is by using the fabulous ‘Mississippi Blues Trail markers’. These will take you across the state and introduce you to the folks who wrote, played and recorded The Blues……and where they lived, travelled and performed. Occasionally you’ll come across a ‘juke joint’ which was a local hole in the wall venue for folks to hear the blues – usually open one or two nights only, at the end of the working week – and always with some sort of food ……generally southern BBQ. I tracked across the top third of the state of Mississippi, ending up in Clarksdale the week of the festival, and stayed at the Shack Up Inn. This is the brainchild of a couple of local blokes who bought an old cotton gin on a few acres, then over several years turned the gin buildings into a motel, bar, and music venue. They salvaged sharecropper shacks around the area, and re located them onto the Shack up Inn grounds……nd the result is a ‘trailer park’ community of shacks of all shapes and sizes, all modified just enough to have hot running water, indoor plumbing! And a kitchen. Just about all the work has been done with ‘found’ and salvaged stuff from the region, so it’s one of the most unique accommodation venues in the USA, and I love it. I stayed for one night about 4 years ago, and it took me a long time to get back for the Juke Joint Festival….but it was well worth it!

So here’s the week leading into the Juke Joint Festival ……as I had to leave town early on the Saturday morning to get across to LA and on back to Australia. Next time I’ll try and do the whole thing.




Here’s the Shack Up Inn…


  And my home for 5 days ….used to be that of the “Fullilove” family


Then off to explore Clarksdale MS and find the best food stops….






Then more exploring to find the local ‘juke joints’, and find out who’s playing when


Reds – on Sunflower Avenue, lucky enough to see ….


Then there’s other buildings in town set up for the Festival as venues….sometimes it’s just the footpath in front of a store….everything possible is used, as come Saturday and Sunday the streets of the central town grid are closed to cars, and you just trundle from one artist to another…..stuffing the tip tins as you go. Here’s a few that I saw, with some of the Friday acts



This is Morgan Freeman’s ‘Ground Zero’ blues club and cafe




This years poster – art by local Cristen Barnard






Then it was goodbye Shack Up Inn….and Clarksdale MS….till next time


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