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Marketplace & MPB: Next Stop...Clarksdale & our live music ecosystem

LOVE Marketplace and MPB. So! proud! that Clarksdale and our work was just featured on both. Marketplace did a story about how "Hundreds of small music venues are struggling to stay open," and started in Clarksdale. Cat Head's Roger Stolle is one of our bestest spokespeople, and shared how we're all working together to keep the blues alive here...all 7 Nights A Week. As always. Even through the pandemic.

That's the thing: we work together. Clarksdale isn't only a small town with a big concentration of small venues, businesses, and musicians. We're an ecosystem.

Roger was visionary in developing (over years!!) Clarksdale's "Live Blues -- 7 Nights a Week." He works with all the music venues and restaurants across Clarksdale to ensure that a blues fan or roadtripper can come for dinner, or stay the night, and be guaranteed to experience live blues ANY night of the week. This is how music and tourism drives local economic development. It works.

But it only works when ALL our venues, businesses, and musicians work together. Everyone wants to play Fri+Sat nights. If we didn't coordinate, they all would. It takes a certain generosity, and faith in this bigger picture, for venues to open on a Monday or Tuesday. For musicians to play at different times. And keep playing, even if there are only 6 people in the room.

To those 6ppl, it's magic. To spend a weekend in Memphis or New Orleans, then roll into the Mississippi Delta and see Lucious Spiller up close in the Bluesberry CAFE (a diner!) on Monday, or Big A in Hambone Art Gallery (gallery!) on Tuesday... That can feel cooler than anything on Beale Street. THAT'S why people visit Clarksdale.

Kamel King & Michelle McAdoo asked Roger what makes Clarksdale special. He often says he "came here for the blues, but it's the people that made me want to stay." To that we'll add: it's this ecosystem. Of crazy, wonderful, generous people all working together to create this magic -- all 7 nights a week.

Roger and Bubba created the Juke Joint Festival (yes, it's still happening!) as an April destination for ALL of these musicians, venues, restaurants, hotels to fling open their doors-- all at once. It, and every festival, is important business for our community. Roger and Nan added the Clarksdale Film & Music Festival in January to make Clarksdale a destination for a different sort of creativity and culture, even in the dark of winter.

The Film Fest is THIS weekend! We're stoked to host its panels, workshop, and filmmaker Q&A. And of course the music, Live From Clarksdale as always. Check the full schedule and buy tix (esp. for the drive-in Finding Nemo & The Blues Trail Revisited premiere) at There's lotsa live music, free -- come mask up, #VisitMSResponsibly...and if you can, don't forget to tip the band and buy a little something to #SupportSmallBusiness.

So: yes -- small venues ARE struggling to stay open. Here in Clarksdale, we're all working together. When live music and travel REALLY get going again, we'll still be here. All 7 Nights a Week.


Hear more about Clarksdale and the Film Fest from Roger and Christone "KINGFISH" Ingram on MPB's Next Stop, Mississippi here:

And the Marketplace Business News story here:

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