Blues fans from all over the world converge onto Clarksdale, Mississippi for the yearly Juke Joint Festival, held every year in April. The weekend event includes performances all over town, as well as a local parade, a 5K race, a film festival, and plenty of delicious Delta food. The town itself is known as the crossroads and “ground zero” for the blues, so it’s fitting that such an event would take place here.
Tips for Attending the Juke Joint Festival
1. Book your stay early.
Since Clarksdale is such a small town, there aren’t a ton of hotel and inn options, so book as far in advance as possible. You don’t want to get stuck staying far out of town in Tunica or further and driving back and forth every day! The Shack Up Inn, the Hooker Hotel, The Lofts at the Five & Dime, and The Travelers Hotel are among those recommended by the festival, especially for their proximity to the events.
2. Research the acts.
Over 100 acts perform at Juke Joint Festival, including well-known blues acts and young guns excited to get their start. Most recently, local musician and blues wunderkind Christone “Kingfish” Ingram has performed. Some push the boundaries towards rock and roll while others take a page from classics like B.B. King and Muddy Waters.
3. Take to the streets.
While many of the performances take place in blues clubs and venues like the Delta Cinema, Shack Up Inn, Hambone Gallery and Ground Zero Blues Club, many of the over 20 venues are small performances on street corners and inside art galleries. Grab an official map so you don’t miss any.
4. Research the blues.
Clarksdale has a number of educational experiences and landmarks to give you background information to what you’ll be seeing and the artists that influenced modern blues. Start at the humble Rock and Blues Museum before following up with the Delta Blues Museum.
Wristbands for the event will cost $15-20 per day, depending on how early in advance you purchase. This gets you in to see as many acts as you have time for. Be sure to visit the Ground Zero Blues Club at least once during your stay, at least to grab some Delta tamales!