Blues music, now admired around the world, first rolled out of the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta, a plaintive, rhythmic shout from the deepest souls of field hands and sharecroppers. Over the past few years, the Mississippi Blues Commission has marked significant Blues history sites all over the state, and many of those distinctive markers dot Leflore County. From B.B. King’s birthplace to Robert Johnson’s grave, the Greenwood area is a Blues fan’s ultimate destination and the perfect starting point for a statewide Mississippi Blues Trail adventure.
Mississippi Blues Trail
www.msbluestrail.org (Printed map included)
Leflore County claims eight Mississippi Blues Trail markers, each commemorating a significant site in the development of this quintessentially American music. Pick up a MBT map to drive between B.B. King’s birthplace, Elks Hart Lodge #640, Baptist Town, WGRM’s Howard Street studio and markers dedicated to Hubert Sumlin, Guitar Slim and Furry Lewis.
- “WGRM”, 222 Howard Street
- “Robert Johnson” Gravesite, Little Zion MB Church, GPS Coordinates: 33.563108,- 90.215355
- “The Elks Lodge,” 106 East Scott Street
- “B.B. King’s Birthplace,” CR 513 & CR 305, GPS Coordinates: 33.438985,-90.373363
- “Hubert Sumlin,” 12th Street at River Road Ext.
- “Baptist Town,” 200 Short Street
- “Guitar Slim,” Salem M.B. Church, CR 101, GPS Coordinates: 33.558991,-90.236925
- “Furry Lewis,” Intersection of Lamar & Carrollton Avenue
I . Blues Deejays, 503 Ione Street, 33.525494,-90.163998
- Mississippi John Hurt, CR 41, near Teoc, Mississippi, 33.629678, -90.037723
Tallahatchie Flats sits on the banks of the Tallahatchie River, just a short drive up Money Road from Greenwood. A row of relocated sharecropper shacks welcomes visitors with surprisingly comfortable interiors, surrounded by cotton fields and the sounds of Delta wildlife. A renovated commissary features musical entertainment and room for parties and reunions.
Robert Johnson Self-Guided Tour
(Printed and .pdf map included)
A creative genius who lived fast and died young, Robert Johnson has continued to influence generations of musicians across a wide spectrum of genres. Legends from Robert Plant to Bonnie Raitt have studied and imitated the guitar skills and vocal intonations of this mysterious man, rumored to have sold his soul to the devil at a Delta crossroads. This self-guided tour follows Johnson’s brief and turbulent life through Greenwood’s Baptist Town, his blues hangouts and the three possible burial sites around Leflore County.
B.B. King Museum
400 Second Street, Indianola, Mississippi www.bbkingmuseum.org
A quick thirty-minute drive west on scenic Highway 82 will bring you to Indianola, a charming town on Indian Bayou where Riley “B.B.” King labored as a young man, all the while honing his extraordinary skills with a guitar and an unforgettable voice. A former cotton gin, one of the sites where B.B. scratched out a living, has been transformed into a tribute to his life and music. Packed with visual displays and thousands of items from King’s private collection, the B. B. King Museum saturates its visitors with the sights and sounds of the Mississippi Delta, the fertile culture that gave rise to this remarkable performer and so many other Blues legends.
Howard Street, Greenwood, Mississippi www.turnrowbooks.com
Located in historic downtown Greenwood, Turnrow offers some great hidden blues albums on vinyl. Also, pick up some Blues literature as you’re travelling through the Delta.