The first guitar was called ‘wire on the wall’ . Workers on the southern plantations took the wire from worn out mops, and strung them between two nails pounded into the wall. They used rocks wedged on either end as bridges to tighten the wire enough. Then someone decided to pull the board off the wall and lay it on their lap, using bottles as slides. This was called a diddley bow. Flip those words and now you know where Bo Diddley got his name… So much history down here…home of the famed ‘crossroads’ where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in return for mastery of the blues guitar…
Crossroads.jpg


This day trip was really a history lesson in America’s great indigenous musical genre, the blues. Downtown Clarksdale has retained a lot of its original feel. Lots of old buildings, time worn but dignified.
Clarksdaleblues.jpg
Started the day learning all I could from Roger Stolle, a devout student of the blues who picked up from Columbus, OH to move to Clarksdale and pursue is passion for the music. In addition to being a walking blues encyclopedia, he books music for Morgan Freeman’s local Ground Zero Blues Club (below), and has launched a fast growing annual Juke Joint Blues festival.
MorganClub.jpg
Continued my education with Robert Birdsong and Bubba O’Keefe – long time locals who have all sorts of great stories. Bubba is renovating the WROX museum – a local treasure and birthplace to many ‘firsts’ including Elvis on the radio. Ike Turner was the janitor. Rows of old 45’s and 1/4″ reels, even the original mic still set up in the upstairs control room. This is REALLY where it started.
RadioStation.jpg
Lots of names: Big Jack Johnson, Super Chicken, Arthur ‘knees’ Jones, T- Model Ford, Wesley ‘junebug’ Jefferson, many guys still around playing gigs.
Loaded up on CDs from Roger’s Cat Head blues store and headed out as the sun was setting to get to Jackson. Really glad to have spent time here – there’s something about just walking on the ground that holds so much. I think Clarksdale is going to go through a significant revival in the coming years.. mark my words.
ClarksdaleSunset.jpg

Comments

  1. kamal
    May 01, 2006 at 1:12am
    hi im a musician in india and i have my demo on purevolume.com/777 - im wondering if you would be inerested in it.
  2. genevieve
    May 01, 2006 at 8:33am
    Dear Tim, I have followed your trip for a couple of weeks now, and it sounds like a journey of dreams come true. I can only imagine how astonishing it must be to stand on the same street corners as american music icons. Needless to say I am green with envy. I am sorry I missed you when you were in New Orleans, my town, but it looked like you had fun. Keep taking pictures of the old control rooms and sound boards those are my favorite. Thanks Genevieve
  3. Haroon
    May 01, 2006 at 3:24pm
    First off I would like to say that I love your site. No annoying pop-ups - no cheesie graphics - nothing to DL...awsome. I was wondering how come there isn't any Jungle music in your gynormas music library? You have Drum&Bass - HipHpo - Reggae - Electronic...so why not Jungle? Keep up the good work.
  4. Ade
    May 01, 2006 at 7:42pm
    Great photos. This is my first comment so let me start off by saying Pandora is fantastic. I'm hooked on it. I have a wide variety of musical interests and Pandora is really letting me learn more about genres of music that I enjoy but don't know much about. If I had one suggestion for this incredible service, it would be to normalize the music (i.e. make it all the same volume). This should be possible on the Flash end of things to avoid having to do it to all of your material. Some of the songs that play - especially some of the older material that lacks an album cover - is extremely quiet. Have a great trip and best of luck with this stellar startup company.
  5. Brian Slesinsky
    May 01, 2006 at 10:50pm
    The first guitar? Where did you get that? According to Wikipedia, guitars have been around for 5,000 years.
  6. WILFORD BATES
    May 02, 2006 at 7:06am
    Hand in hand with P2P... this completes my need for audio satisfaction. By introducing me to "new Artists" (ones I am not already familiar with)I have expanded my "Libraries" by at least two fold... y`all have been unexpected blessing. My thanks for the effort applied towards this project, I will reccommend much and often.
  7. Mike
    May 02, 2006 at 8:54am
    Glad you guys could visit Clarksdale. I'm from Mississippi, and there is much to learn from the Delta. I've really enjoyed your site and your mission! Keep up the good work
  8. TB
    May 02, 2006 at 10:21am
    I have a hard time believing there wasn't any guitars before the "wire in the wall"... I mean, it's the same concept/shape as any fundamental acoustic instrument. No old school lutes, etc?
  9. Brett
    May 02, 2006 at 1:05pm
    You removed Asheville from the map!!! You cant miss out now!! We are less than 2 weeks away from, arguably, the greatest festival in the country: the Lake Eden Arts Festival, www.theleaf.com. So, turn that thing around and come own to cackelacky!!
  10. Tim Westergren
    May 02, 2006 at 1:54pm
    You're right. Really meant to say the first guitar among the southern plantation community that grew into the blues movement... thanks for pointing this out. I also learned that "shotgun shack" was an allusion to the worker connected row houses with adjoining doors - you could fire a shotgun through a row of houses without hitting anything if the doors were open. Not sure if this actually happened, but locals claim so...
  11. Rachel
    May 02, 2006 at 5:00pm
    i just want to say that pandora is amazing, it is acually a dream come true. i give you all mad props for having the patience to sift through that much music. thank you so much for introducing me to so many new artists so similar to the ones i love.
  12. Marcus Belassie
    May 04, 2006 at 7:12am
    Here are the addresses of a few quality bands near me (surrey, England) http://www.myspace.com/alternativecarpark http://www.myspace.com/burningvirgins http://www.myspace.com/neonlights http://www.myspace.com/parasiteofficial Good luck on the road man
  13. Tracy
    May 04, 2006 at 4:51pm
    Hi! Great service...I love it so far. Just one suggestion. I think it would be great if a person could enter a music genre instead of just an artist name or song name. Keep up the great work and enjoy the rest of your trip!
  14. Jake Stoddard
    May 04, 2006 at 4:55pm
    Hey you should come to Yukon, Oklahoma because it's a small town with good local musicians and an awesome community. Jake
  15. Ann Bonauro
    May 10, 2006 at 5:09pm
    I enjoy Pandora so very much. I listen to it whenever I get on the internet. Keep up the good work. I just noticed you were traveling. Why don't you come to California? I would love to see you.
  16. Tony
    May 13, 2006 at 1:59pm
    Hiya, I love the blues but I'm not sure that the first guitar came from the the southern states, the guitar is a descendant of a very ancient arab instrument, but i suppose that's not a very politically correct thing to say. African string instruments are also pretty much as old as that. America did'nt invent music or intruments. Better than that ! America REinvented music and instruments ! Where would music be without it ? But please remember that roots are not 200 years old but more that 2000 Ciao Ciao Some stupid european rambler
  17. Cole
    May 14, 2006 at 9:36pm
    I just stumbled upon PANDORA tonight and it's great. I travel internationl to 3rd world countries quite often and have no music except what I take........so from now on, as long as I have the net....I can rock out! Thanks
  18. Tom
    May 18, 2006 at 10:36am
    Tim, Please tell me you're coming to Pittsburgh. There's gonna be a cool concert later this summer to celebrate the Superbowl win before the season starts.
  19. muriel
    May 19, 2006 at 8:27pm
    I am for work in China (on the country)and our radio only recieves Chinese music. I am very glad I have discovered pandora so I can listen to good music. Thanks When are you coming to europe to discover new music? I have already one tip, a very nice group from amsterdam. Check it out on www.bernieslounge.com Muriel (belgium)
  20. Paul and Jamie
    May 23, 2006 at 1:25pm
    A friend just told me about Pandora and I love it! I sent it off to a bunch of friends and they are loving it too!! Good work guys. I can't get over music and new technology. I remember when I was a kid and I would have to drive an hour and a half to Detroit or to London Ontario to find kool music and pay a fortune..ahh, the days of analogue. Love you!! We are from Canada..Toronto to be exact.
  21. Paul
    May 26, 2006 at 9:13am
    I just read about Pandora in PC Magazine and I thought I would check it out. I have tried other music services and I have been really disappointed in the results. One of my favorite artists is Harry Chapin and when I listen at other sites I get lots of folk music. Of course, Harry was not a folk singer...he was a story teller and he had a unique sound. Pandora introduces me to artists and songs that have the same "feel" as Harry's songs. Some are stories and others just have the right "sound". I am pleased and impressed with this service. I am planning on spreading the word. I am also going to create a new station for "David Allen Coe" and I am quite curious what it is that the Music Gnome Project has in store for me!
  22. matt
    July 25, 2006 at 1:22pm
    I am from north Mississippi and I use the site all the time, thanks for stopping in our neck of the woods!
  23. Joe
    August 04, 2006 at 9:49am
    I see that you have been to the larger cities in Tennessee. Jackson, Tennessee was the home of Carl Perkins. This weekend people from all over the country will be gathering in Jackson for the Rock-a-billy Festival. This festival is an annual event that is held to listen to rock-a-billy music with good food, fellowship and live music. You might be interested in visiting this event sometime.
  24. David
    February 06, 2007 at 8:22am
    Im from Clarksdale live in Memphis now but i love comeing to Clarksdale and hereing you play at Ground Zero,my cousin Casey is a bar tender there.I love the birth place of the blues!!!!
  25. izmir guide
    August 05, 2008 at 5:37pm
    hello all im a musician in izmir and i have my demo on eatinizmir.com/asansor thanks guys..
  26. Pharme468
    November 06, 2009 at 9:45pm
    Very nice site!

Comments are closed.