Delta Blues & Cajun Spice

The roots of American music still flourish in Delta cotton fields, Cajun swamp towns, and antebellum cities along the Mississippi River from Memphis to New Orleans

A shack at Sovall Farms, where Muddy Waters grew up outside of Clarksdale, MS.
A shack at Stovall Farms, where Muddy Waters grew up outside of Clarksdale, MS.

Who knew getting the blues could feel so good?

To find out, my dad and I took a Father's Day road trip into the heartland of American roots music, where the blues, soul, gospel, jazz, zydeco, and rock and roll all got their starts.

We followed the Lower Mississippi River from Memphis, Tennessee—where the Delta officially starts—to New Orleans, Louisiana, where it rocks the hardest.

We stopped in dozens of the crossroads towns of Mississippi and Arkansas that pretty much still look as they did when field hands sang the blues.

We saw musical legends perform in small towns, clapped along to a three-hour marathon of Southern Gospel, and watched house bands raise the roof in tiny juke joints and Big Easy bars.

We slept in sharecropper shacks and antebellum mansions and French Quarter townhomes and cabins right on the bayou where a concert of frogs sang us to sleep.

We drove the levees, dipped into Civil War history, paddled into the swamplands, crawled over ancient Inaidan mounds, and ate BBQ straight from Heaven itself.

We ended our Delta odyssey with a day amid the genteelly decaying antebellum towns of the Louisiana bayou and a night on the town in New Orleans.

Welcome to the America you thought disappeared decades ago.

» On to Day 1: Memphis, TN, to Clarksdale, MS

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Practical info

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in June 2012.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.