On day two of our immersion into the birthplace of American blues, we tried out two venues in Clarksdale, Mississippi, noted for their musicians. One was a more touristy, larger venue, well-known in the press because of its owner Morgan Freeman -- Ground Zero -- which serves a full menu, offers a full bar, and mixes up blues with rock 'n roll. On our particular visit, we caught a brief intro blues set, which was a good beginning, but the place never really got rocking. In fact, the rock 'n roll portion of the evening took over, lasting until after 2am. (Be sure you check their schedule if you're hoping to hear some blues). Ground Zero, 252 Delta Avenue, Clarksdale, MS
Ground Zero, Clarksdale, MSWhile that was fun, we were on a mission to find some real blues. We finished our dinner of fried green tomatoes and hot tamales, tried a couple of local Mississippi brews, and decided to search out a more authentic Clarksdale experience. Red's was our next stop, a no-frills living room/salon set-up with a no-frills bar as well. Seats set in a circle around guitarist and singer Lucious Spiller and his three-piece band brought us up close and personal to this Little Rock, Arkansas performer who appeared to be channeling the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, and Robert Johnson. In-between sets, Lucious introduced himself, told us how much he wanted to play in New York City, and thanked us for visiting. It was a mystical experience. As the evening progressed, the musicality and the songs fell apart a bit, perhaps due to the length of the day, perhaps due to a reaction to the intensity of the music being sung, or perhaps due to something else. But it really didn't matter. The setting couldn't have been more real: we were surrounded with local folks, all of whom had an affinity for the blues.
We weren't allowed to video in the club, so I was only able to capture a very dark still of the evening's experiences. Red's Lounge, 375 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale, MS