The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

Get­ting there: North Amer­i­can High­ways (www.nahigh­ of­fers tai­lor-made 12-day itin­er­ar­ies from New Or­leans to Chicago, in­clud­ing flights, taxes, ac­com­mo­da­tion and mid­size car rental with in­sur­ance and un­lim­ited mileage. Amer­i­Can & World­wide Travel ( spe­cialises in per­son­alised mu­si­cal itin­er­ar­ies. Bed­ding down: Ac­com­mo­da­tion along the Blues High­way is fairly or­di­nary Amer­i­can fare with lit­tle char­ac­ter. There are two ex­cep­tions, both in Clarks­dale. The Big Pink Guest­house (www.big­pinkguest­ is a plan­ta­tion owner’s dream. Just out­side town, by the old Hob­son Plan­ta­tion, the Shack Up Inn (www.shack­ pro­vides the field work­ers’ ex­pe­ri­ence; re­con­structed plan­ta­tion shacks, with full mod cons. In Mem­phis the Pe­abody Ho­tel (www.peabodymem­, fa­mous for the ducks that splash in its lobby foun­tain, of­fers gen­uine south­ern op­u­lence. In Chicago it may be time to splash out at the fan­tas­tic Park Hy­att (www.parkhy­ Singing the blues: 930 Blues Cafe (www.jes­d­ at 930 N Congress St in Jack­son is a good old juke joint with live mu­sic ev­ery night. Club Ebony (www.clube­ in In­di­anola is B.B. King’s home­town bar; he plays here ev­ery year. Blues on Sun­day evenings. Ground Zero (www.groundze­r­ob­ in Clarks­dale is the home of blues in the home town of the blues. Live mu­sic Wed­nes­days to Satur­days. Wild Bill’s, a shopfront at 1580 Vollintine in Mem­phis, has live mu­sic Thurs­day to Sun­day. In Beale Street there’s lots of choice, in­clud­ing Blues City Cafe and B.B. King’s. In Chicago don’t miss Rosa’s Lounge run by an Ital­ian mother and son at 3420 W. Ar­mitage Ave. B.L.U.E.S. at 2519 N Hal­sted St is also good, as is Kingston Mines across the street. More con­ve­nient lo­ca­tions, and a bit more touristy, are the two Blue Chicago bars at 536 and 736 N Clark St and Buddy Guy’s Leg­ends at 754 S Wabash St. Fes­ti­vals: Clarks­dale is host to the an­nual three-day Sun­flower River Blues and Gospel Fes­ti­val on the first week­end in Au­gust (www.sun­flow­er­ Just across the river, in Helena, Arkansas, the Arkansas Blues and Her­itage Fes­ti­val (­sand­her­, for­merly known as the King Bis­cuit Blues Fes­ti­val, is a great gig held the first week­end be­fore Colum­bus Day at the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber. Mu­se­ums: Mis­sis­sippi re­cently in­au­gu­rated the Blues Her­itage Trail with 100 mark­ers at bars, gravesites, plan­ta­tions and much else (www.vis­it­mis­sis­ The Rural Life Mu­seum (­ral­ at 4650 Essen Lane in Ba­ton Rouge is a good in­tro­duc­tion to plan­ta­tion life. Delta Blues Mu­seum (www.deltablues­mu­ in Clarks­dale is a must. Just up the street at 252 Delta Ave is blues em­po­rium Cat Head Store (­ In Mem­phis, check out the Stax Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Soul Mu­sic ( and, in Chicago, the Blues Heaven Foun­da­tion ( in the old Chess Record Stu­dios at 2120 South Michi­gan Ave. Per­son­alised tour­ing: Tad Pier­son and his 1955 Cadil­lac (www.amer­i­candreamsa­fari. com) can take you on a Mem­phis juke joint tour for $US75 a per­son or a Delta day trip costs $US225 a per­son.

Stan­ley Ste­wart

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