The Crossroads marker is actually located at the intersection of Desoto Avenue (US Route 49) and State Street, aka State Route 161 aka Business US Route 61 aka "The Strip." This is incredibly confusing when you first come into town, but eventually you'll come across this location. The chain hotels are all located on State Street, along with Wal-Mart and the fast-food restaurants. Although we visited Clarksdale in the off-season and didn't get to experience any of its world-famous blues celebrations, we plan to return again to see such exciting events as the Sunflower River Blues Festival, Crossroad Bikes & Blues, Juke Joint Festival, King Biscuit Blues Festival, Blues Cruise '05, to name a few.
"I'm going down to Rosedale..."
I created a separate page about our drive down to the town of Rosedale, Mississippi immortalized in lyrics by Robert Johnson (and covered powerfully by Led Zeppelin) in "Traveling Riverside Blues," as well as Cream's "Crossroads" in which Eric Clapton sings verses from both "Traveling Riverside Blues" and Robert Johnson's "Cross Road Blues."
We didn't stay long enough to do anything but snap a couple of pictures. Rosedale is about 30 miles south of Clarksdale, easily accessible by State Highway 1.
Clarksdale, MS: Blues for the Whole Family!
"The Crossroads: Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved"
My daughter Nathalie and I have spent three wonderful vacations this year in Clarksdale, Mississippi -- "The Crossroads" you've heard about in songs by Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin. We took lots of photos, met plenty of fascinating people, and learned a lot about the Delta Blues that shaped the music of today. It was a very educational experience that we can't wait to share with you!
For maximum enjoyment, come to this area with a very open mind and don't jump to any quick conclusions. At first glance, downtown Clarksdale is a place where you wouldn't normally expect to take the kids on vacation. Time seems to stand still here, as if someone stopped the clock around 1972 and forgot to turn it back on. The storefronts are rundown and dilapidated, and 30-year-old Buick and Cadillac sedans still prowl the one-way streets. A thick paste of shattered glass from countless decades of beer bottles glitters from the parking lots of graffiti-covered juke joints, and the bottlecaps are fashioned into folk art. Ancient electric guitars that would fetch thousands of dollars on eBay collectors' auctions are still in everyday use, their elderly owners seemingly unaware of the treasures cradled in their hands.
Blues purists make pilgrimages to Clarksdale from countries all over the world, most notably Scandinavia. They take maps of the Mississippi Delta region and spend their vacations driving countless miles up and down backroads past cotton plantations, shooting pictures of tombstones erected in memory of the legendary musicians hailing from the Delta. There are huge festivals held here in the summertime that attract music lovers by the thousands. Hence, Clarksdale has been dubbed "Ground Zero" for the Delta Blues scene.
By visiting Clarksdale in the off-season, Nathalie and I were able to probe beneath the surface and do plenty of research. We learned firsthand that this is one place where your entire family can listen to unbelievably good music and have a delightful time. There's no doubt in our minds that we will return to Clarksdale for another happy vacation as soon as possible, and we encourage you to do the same!
In case you are new to VT, there are links from this intro page containing much more info about Clarksdale, including photo travelogues -- be sure to click on them all! Please also visit my related VT page on the town of Rosedale, Mississippi, another integral part of the "Crossroads" legend. Thanks for dropping by!