Having the blues doesn’t have to be a bummer. As Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, owner of the Blue Front Cafe juke joint in Bentonia has said, “it doesn’t matter if a blues song is about something good or bad—the more you sing, the better you feel.” The Mississippi Blues Trail celebrates the enormous achievements of blues musicians and traces the evolution of the genre through more than 200 markers posted across the state, including 21 located in other states or countries.
Traveling south into the Delta, the Highway 61 Blues marker at the Gateway to the Blues Museum in Tunica sets the tone for your blues road trip with a lesson on the importance of the “blues highway” in spreading the music through the Delta and up to Memphis, St. Louis and Chicago. After checking out markers for Big Jack Johnson, Ike Turner and others in Clarksdale, tour the Delta Blues Museum to see the cabin Muddy Waters lived in while working at Stovall Plantation. Then, head south to Dockery Plantation and learn why scholars believe this could be the birthplace of the blues.
But the blues didn’t just happen in the Delta. You’ll find historical markers for major blues figures across Mississippi, like Howlin’ Wolf in West Point, Charley Patton’s Birthplace in Bolton and Robert Johnson’s Birthplace in Hazlehurst. The newest marker on the Blues Trail, located on Farish Street in Jackson, celebrates R&B and soul singer Dorothy Moore, who enjoyed success with the smash hit “Misty Blue.” At 100 Men Hall in Bay St. Louis, you can visit the century-old stop on the Chitlin’ Circuit—the loose network of jukes and venues across the South where black musicians performed blues, soul and R&B—which hosted Etta James, Irma Thomas and James Brown.