A musical Journey of Mississippi begins with a single note - TravelMole


A musical Journey of Mississippi begins with a single note

Wednesday, Jan 24, 2024 0

 

There’s something in the air in the Magnolia State. From sultry blues floating through the door of a Mississippi Delta juke joint to the aroma of homestyle cornbread and farm-raised catfish permeating the air from a nearby kitchen, visitors to Mississippi can experience first-hand the many aspects of all that makes the state’s cultural heritage stand out from any other place in the world, including walking in the very footsteps of some of the world’s most inspiring and beloved musicians, writers and historic figures. Enjoy fresh local seafood prepared by James Beard Award-nominated chefs, an authentic Delta blues performance, or a tour of the birthplace of the undisputed “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” Elvis Presley to make any trip memorable. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of options for all tastes – Mississippi truly offers something for everyone.

 

Mississippi isn’t just the home of countless musicians, it’s where their music was born. Aficionados can journey to the past and visit landmarks where blues music was inspired and developed, including pool halls, juke joints, and farms where men and women came to play and share their unique sounds. Old farmhouses, venerable performance halls, and homes of the men and women who helped create American music as we know it today are marked along the Mississippi Blues Trail. Signposts memorialize the people, places, and communities where this uniquely American art form first took shape.

 

Along the Blues Trail, fans will find one of the primal centers of blues music, Dockery Farms. As a working farm for more than a century, Dockery once was the home of itinerant workers and traveling musicians. In the early 20th century, Dockery was a self-sufficient community, hosting hundreds of tenant families, including that of influential bluesman Charley Patton, who would go on to inspire Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Robert Johnson, and Elvis Presley. The site is one of very few locations with a claim to the birthplace of blues music, where musicians like Patton came to learn before eventually sharing their music with the world.

 

 

Visitors along the Blues Trail also can visit the final resting places of some of the most recognizable blues musicians in the world, including B.B. King and Robert Johnson. Johnson, just 27 years-old when he died, is the central figure in one of Mississippi’s most well-known stories. Remembered as one of the most important bluesmen ever to live, Johnson was integral to the creation of the Delta blues, and his guitar style and lyrics can be found in the works of those who came after him. The legendary crossroads, where he is said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for mastery of the guitar, is memorialized in Clarksdale.

 

 

 

In addition to the Blues Trail, multiple museums like the Delta Blues Museum highlight blues legends and their contributions to American music, inspiring music fans of all ages. B.B. King, well known as the “King of the Blues,” was born in the small town of Itta Bena, Mississippi. He began his 70-year career as a self-taught guitar player working at local juke joints. After moving to Memphis in the 1940s, King would go on to become one of the most famous musicians ever to come out of Mississippi. At the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, visitors can learn about the life of this internationally regarded musician through his own words and memorabilia, attend musical events and workshops, and take advantage of educational opportunities about the history of the Delta.

 

Elvis Presley, one of the most famous and talented musicians the world has ever known, is another one of the Magnolia State’s great musical icons. Born in Tupelo in 1935, Presley’s impact cannot be understated. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century, his legacy is found in film and in a variety of musical styles, from rock to gospel to country. At the Elvis Presley Birthplace, fans can tour the two-room home in which he was born, the church he attended, and a museum, all of which provide invaluable information about the life of the “King.” After touring the grounds, guests can take a self-guided tour of Tupelo and explore the locations where Presley grew up, played and studied. At Tupelo Hardware, “x” marks the spot where Presley stood when his mother purchased his first guitar – a birthday present that would forever change the landscape of the music industry.

 

 

Along with memorials of his life and accomplishments, a marker celebrating Presley’s contributions to country music also stands on the grounds off his birthplace. Like the Mississippi Blues Trail, the Mississippi Country Music Trail recognizes dozens of musicians whose contributions to country music are unmatched to this day. From Jerry Lee Lewis to modern artists like Marty Stuart and Faith Hill, the Country Music Trail highlights the vital roles Mississippi artists have played and continue to play in the development of the genre. One Mississippi native in particular is Jimmie Rodgers, also known as the “Father of Country Music.” Born in Meridian, this singer-songwriter was a major influence on the early days of country music, dating back to the early 20th century. Details of his life and his contributions to American music are proudly on display at the Jimmie Rodgers Museum in Meridian.

 

Of course, there’s more than music awaiting travelers to the Hospitality State. Meals in Mississippi are integrated into the state’s rich culture, with savory homestyle cuisine sharing menus with contemporary culinary masterpieces. Even locals find something new, as menus evolve to feature creations made with a remarkable mix of locally grown, seasonal ingredients and cultural influences.

 

Mississippi farms, fields, and local waters produce a bounty of ingredients that find their way into home kitchens and restaurants all over the state. Local produce like greens and sweet potatoes may be served along with farm-raised catfish or seafood caught fresh from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Fine-dining eateries like Elvie’s in Jackson feature high-quality ingredients and Mississippi flavors, which are elevated by local chefs like Elvie’s founder and James Beard Award nominee Hunter Evans. Their modern twists on classic dishes make a Mississippi dining experience that much more memorable, and of course, delicious.

 

Along with Evans, numerous award-winning chefs are shaping the future of Mississippi cuisine while bringing out the best of their culinary traditions. From the traditional West Africa flavors found at Sambou’s African Kitchen, voted one of America’s “Best New Restaurants” in the 2023 James Beard Award class of semi-finalists, to the creations of James Beard Best Chef Award semi-finalists Alex Perry and Kumi Omori at Vestige in Ocean Springs, Mississippi’s culinary artists are regularly recognized as some of the best in the country.

 

In the Mississippi Delta, even casual dining brings out some of the best flavors in the state. In modest diners in unexpected corners of small towns are big flavors and generous dishes awaiting even the most sophisticated palates. At old-style eateries like The Crystal Grill in Greenwood, diners can enjoy classic dishes like a lemon-pepper seasoned catfish or traditional Delta Hot Tamales served by the half-dozen in a setting as timeless as the menu. In fact, Mississippi boasts a Tamale Trail and a Barbecue Trail for visitors craving a more traditional savory meal (who also don’t mind their fingers getting a little messy in the process).

 

For steak lovers, the unparallel cuts at Doe’s Eat Place are just one example of the bold dishes and world-class meals that remain a celebrated staple of Mississippi cuisine. Within Doe’s small and unassuming interior, guests can find a meal fit for any occasion, with mouthwatering flavors beckoning guests to stay a little longer – if they’re not full already. At local bakeries like Sugaree’s, sweet treats like the classic Mississippi Mud Pie or a big slice of Caramel Cake are long-time favorites for after dinner or just as a tasty mid-day splurge.

 

 

The seafood found in the waters along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast lend to an incredible selection of ingredients that allows chefs to continually rotate dishes on their menus while creating new ones, so guests never tire of the available options. At seafood restaurants like Vestige or Mary Mahoney’s Old French House, menus offer fresh oysters served on the half shell or broiled to perfection. Signature dishes highlighting shrimp, crab, and the catch-of-the-day often blend fresh ingredients and local flavors that leave patrons awestruck and excitedly awaiting their next visit.

 

 

When planning your trip to Mississippi, the impressive list of things to do and places to visit may seem overwhelming, as Mississippi is a mecca for all things cultural. But the team at Visit Mississippi is here to help you get started. Send us a message to request the latest Mississippi Tour Guide or download the Visit Mississippi app to get started your journey through Mississippi today. We hope to see you soon.



Learn more about Visit Mississippi


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