Course Description

Roots of the Blues Tour

The Blues was born in Yazoo River Basin of the Mississippi Delta. Clarksdale, Mississippi is at the heart of the Mississippi Delta and residents there have developed the award-winning Delta Blues Museum, a destination for blues lovers worldwide. In the words of renowned blues harmonica player, Charlie Musselwhite, “The blues seeps up through the pavement in Clarksdale — go to Clarksdale!”

At the museum, view remains of the cabin from Stovall Farms where Muddy Waters lived during his days as a sharecropper and tractor driver. Musicologist Alan Lomax recorded Muddy on the front porch of this shack for the Library of Congress in 1941. Best known for electrifying the blues in Chicago, Muddy is represented by posters, photographs, and a life-size wax statue, displayed along with one of his electric guitars and ZZ Top’s “Muddywood” guitar, crafted from one of the cabin’s timbers.

This tour combines visits to the Delta Blues Museum, the Mississippi Blues Trail, and the Crossroads of Highway 61 and Highway 49 (where Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil for skill to play the blues guitar) with a pilgrimage to the world’s greatest music festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

“Jazzfest” which is held at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds Race Course features three huge 2500-seat tents — the Blues Tent, the Jazz Tent and the Gospel Tent — plus mainstages spotlighting the biggest acts in show business. The lineup includes national and international touring acts as well as New Orleans and regional favourites, and often represents pop, rock, gospel, jazz, rap, funk, and R&B. The lineup usually is unveiled in January before the festival. The 2017 edition wrapped May 7 and drew about 425,000 people, who came see such big-name acts as Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews, and Snoop Dogg, as well as New Orleans favourites, such as Dr. Michael White, Irma Thomas, and the Iguanas. There are also fantastic food tents and locales with local traditional, cultural, ethnic, and Mardi Gras Indians exhibits.

While in the New Orleans area, we will also visit the French Quarter and Jackson Square; take swamp and plantation tours; sample Cajun and Creole cuisine; enjoy city tours; and attend the Franklin Avenue African-American Baptist Church for a spirited Sunday service.

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