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This is the whirlwind photo-tour of downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi. Find the video experience here.
Clarksdale is a thriving small town along the Mississippi Delta's Blues Highway.
Hwy 61 and 49 is the crossroads where Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil, and received extraordinary musical talent in return. The blues was born here, and from it sprang rock & roll.
The Riverside Hotel
The Riverside Hotel is THE most blues-historic hotel in the world.
Listed in the Green Book, it was the premiere African American hotel for performers -- for decades. As Roger Stolle says, "it's sort of like the hotels where they say 'George Washington Slept Here.' Well, a whole bunch of George Washingtons slept at the The Riverside Hotel." (And you can, too!)
Red's Juke Joint
Red's is one of the last remaining juke joints where you can still see live blues weekly.
Juke joints began on plantations nearby. As Roger puts it, "the owner is throwing a house party, but he does not want you at his house. So you have this other building, which has low lighting and a lot of broken-down, mismatched furniture -- authentically. You'll see some blues clubs will buy mismatched furniture and hang Christmas lights to try to emulate juke joints. Well, this is the real deal."
Messenger's Sports Bar
Shoot some pool with Sherman and Marthella at Messengers Sports Bar, a fourth-generation African American family-owned business.
4th Street used to be so packed on a Friday night, you couldn't even walk down the sidewalk. Messenger's has been in Clarksdale for over 100 years; stop by and ask them to show you family photos on the walls.
The whole town loved Marthella's big brother George Messenger; many peeps still talk fondly about seeing him along his daily runs.
Haven United Methodist Church
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Haven United Methodist Church when he came to town. Across from Aaron Henry's pharmacy, it was a central gathering place for the civil rights movement.
You can still see the side door from which students and activists marched, having organized boycotts, sit-ins and protests from the church basement here. Services are still held on the corner of Yazoo and 4th St, which has now been renamed MLK.
The New Roxy
The New Roxy holds many happy memories as a movie theatre, and is now home to some of the hottest music festivals in the South. Its roof failed mid-renovation, so in classic Mississippi ingenuity, owner Robin Colonas opened it up as an ampitheatre where you can enjoy live music (and sometimes weddings) under the night sky.
Bad Apple Blues Club
That's Sean "Bad" Apple, a local blues musician who learned alongside many of the greats in Clarksdale. He just left his nightly gigs on Beale Street to return to Clarksdale.
Want to know what he's doing here now? Follow Sean Apple and stay tuned…
2021 UPDATE: The Bad Apple Blues Club is now OPEN! Come visit most Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays.
Stop at the old train depot's Tourism office and you may get to meet Bubba O'Keefe (and his family!). You'll get personalized recommendations and even a Visit Clarksdale button.
You can also get instructions online for downloading the free, GPS-enabled VoiceMap audio walking tour: it's a 90min tour from over 20 locals sharing their stories and guiding you thru downtown. Perfect for travel while social distancing :)
Delta Blues Museum
Inside the museum, you'll learn more about the history and culture behind the blues, and see Muddy Waters' home, moved from the Stovall Plantation nearby. Its nationally award-winning programs have helped raise the next generation of musicians like Kingfish, and have been invited to play at the White House.
The museum is free to locals.
Ground Zero Blues Club
Hop across the street to Ground Zero Blues Club, co-owned by proud Mississippian Morgan Freeman.
It's named after our reputation as "ground zero" for the blues. You can stay upstairs, eat lunch & dinner there, and hear live blues every Wed-Sat nite.
Crossroads Cultural Arts Center
Our Peeps were delighted to meet Guelel Kumba at the Crossroads Cultural Arts Center.
He's the Artist in Residence here. He tells an amazing story of playing his family's music from West Africa…and finding local Mississippians recognized the beat. Crossroads has much to teach us about the blues' African heritage.
Director Chandra Williams also teaches us about how it influenced rap and hip hop -- so cool!
Chamber of Commerce
Why did the chick cross the road?
To help somebunny start a business!
Jon Levingston and the Clarksdale/Coahoma County Chamber of Commerce have worked hard with the City to drive economic development here. Companies like People Shores and Automation Anywhere are now coming from Silicon Valley to partner with Clarksdale on creating jobs, training, and innovation. We're proud to be alongside them. We've chosen to found our startup here, and do our part to help other small businesses grow, too!
Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art
Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Arts' Roger Stolle helped bring Live Blues back to Clarksdale -- 7 Nights A Week. He founded the Juke Joint Festival and Clarksdale's Film Festival, and continues to work with musicians and venues to "keep the blues alive" every day.
You can read crazy stories in his Hidden History and Juke Joint Confidential books...and those are just what he could print! Visit for more in person, including CD Listening Stations. You can also shop online at www.CatHead.biz and call or email him for personalized book and music recommendations.
Grandma's House of Pancakes
Famished? Tina and Our Grandma's House of Pancakes will take care of you.
This may be one of the only places in the country where Grandma's is both a House of Pancakes AND a Sports Bar. Don't let the Yelp hours confuse you: this Grandma serves a mean breakfast and lunch...then reopens for a great party into the wee hours of the night. Carry-out orders welcome!
This small town is home to incredible creativity and art. Local artist, farmer and teacher Joey Young will invite you into his Lambfish Art Company studio to see and buy his one-of-a-kind sculptures, ceramics, and paintings.
The Auberge Clarksdale Hostel
Robert & Lucy just opened the Auberge Clarksdale Hostel, in the old Madidi's downtown. It's the nicest hostel you've ever seen.
Their Auberge New Orleans won Hostelworld's title of Best Hostel in America. Clarksdale is their very first expansion.
SSH: Robert and Lucy are about to hatch a little chick of their own...so you can peep in now, but don't wake the baby!
Shared Experiences Chateau
Clarksdale's newest Airbnb addition is our very own Shared Experiences Chateau. (Named in honor of our friends and inspiration, the Chateau Debris.)
Our town's diverse constellation of lodgings supports the major festivals here throughout the year -- we have over a dozen of them.
As a social impact company, we employ & train young people: you may have seen Teach For America fellow Calvin doing some DIY furniture rehab outside with Meraki Roasting graduate Trevon. They helped make this place awesome!
The Clark House
The oldest house in Clarksdale was built by founder John Clark. He started it before the Civil War; his Quaker construction staff fled North during the war, and finished it upon return afterward.
You can now stay at the Clark House Inn and experience history for yourself.
The Cutrer Mansion
The Cutrer Mansion now stands in the Clark House's original location. John Clark moved his own home -- on logs -- to build the Cutrer on prime real estate for his daughter.
It's now run in partnership with Coahoma Community College and returning to its original splendor; you can see it in a Shared Experiences tour with director Jen Waller. The mansion's murphy beds hosted guests coming from New York and all over to enjoy the Cutrers' Southern hospitality and famous parties. These parties and characters inspired another famous local: Blanche was the inspiration for Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams' Streetcar Named Desire.
Tennessee Williams Rectory Museum
Tom Williams grew up in his grandfather Rev. Dakin's rectory, and accompanied him on calls around the parish. Many elements of his plays, from Baby Doll to Brick to Moon Lake, were based on real people and places around Clarksdale.
You can learn about these connections in the Tennessee Williams Rectory Museum.
The Carnegie Public Library
The Clarksdale Carnegie Public Library is much beloved by the community.
Director JoAnn Blue offers a free Shared Experiences tour of its collections, including the Mississippi Room and Native American artifacts collected by archaeologist John Connoway. JoAnn and her team are now working on serving our community online: check the library's site soon for details.
Meraki Roasting Company
Jakaia, Amy & Calandria demonstrate proper social distancing outside Meraki.
Meraki Roasting Company is both an awesome coffee shop and a youth job training program of Griot Youth Program. Their work is supported by funders like the Walton Family Foundation and Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi -- and by sales of the coffee they roast themselves.
Higher Purpose Co.
This is the future home of Higher Purpose Co. -- they just bought the old Delta Furniture building to house their expansion in the community.
They use the power of ownership to build wealth and tackle financial access issues, and help black communities thrive. They've also just launched the first Kiva Hub in the United States!
Wunderkind drummer Lee Williams welcomes everyone with open arms!
He was just on a month-long tour of Europe, and about to leave on another one. He grew up playing with Kingfish, Jacqueline Nassar and other kids in the Delta Blues Museum and other local music programs, and has now returned to teach there.
Stan Street & the Hambone Art Gallery
Our peeps helped musician and artist Stan Street set up Venmo to accept tips for local musicians who play #LiveFromClarksdale.
He built the Hopeless Case Bar inside his Hambone Art Gallery; it attracts visitors and locals alike, and is like our community's living room every Tuesday night...with live music.
Check out his new collection of scarves and other art at www.StanStreet.com
The Mississippi Blues Trail
You don't need big ears to hear the history of music emanating from Clarksdale. It has more Mississippi Blues Trail markers than any other small town in Mississippi for good reason.
Quapaw Canoe Company
Don't be chicken!
Grab a life preserver and enjoy the great outdoors at safe social distance with Quapaw Canoe Company.
Founder John Ruskey and river guide Mark River (yes that's his real name) mapped the lower Mississippi River and continue to lead life-changing trips together. John first arrived here as a musician and burgeoning navigator in 1982: inspired by Huck Finn, he and his friend built a raft, floated down the Mississippi River, and washed up ashore with his guitar and a frozen chicken. #truestory
Hope Springs Eternal:
Anyone else want to garden? We're about to plant seeds of beauty for our neighbors…
The Collective Seed & Supply in Clarksdale and the Farmers Market in Greenwood are two great Delta garden stores. We'll have virtual tours and advice from them soon.
Everybunny is invited to join us! We'll share the experience together, wherever you may be.
Follow us at Shared Experiences USA for more,
and tag us when you go for a #PeepingAround adventure in your own backyard.
Our Peeps can't wait to meet your Peeps.