Rhythm & Blues: A Look into Juke Joint Festival

Mississippi has never needed an excuse to party which could be why “lose the game, win the party” is a lifestyle Ole Miss faithfuls know all too well. But as the weather gets warmer, the ghosts of games past disappear, and the winter blues are exchanged for a cold drink and a good time. Whether it’s Oxford’s Double Decker or Greenville’s Hot Tamale Festival, the best way to spend a weekend is with live music and good food.

Man at Cat Head Delta Blues & Juke Joint Festival
Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art at Juke Joint Festival (CDN Images)

Clarksdale’s Juke Joint Festival is no exception. The weekend full of the state’s best blues, brews and hang out joints (sorry, Oxford) is a spring highlight that will not disappoint. Just shy of its 15th anniversary, this “half blues festival, half small town fair” is pulling some serious talent to please loyalists and newcomers alike. This year, Juke Joint Festival is hosting names like the legendary Leo “Bud” Welch, a personal favorite, and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. These two alone make a worthy pilgrimage, especially following their Oxford performances last spring. Catch other homegrown favorites like the Cedric Burnside Project and Super Chikan on the Cat Head Blues stage on Saturday night.

Musicians at Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale
Red’s Lounge, Clarksdale (RudmerHK via Flickr)

To party like a local, don’t race back to Oxford once the stages wind down. Instead, trickle into one of Clarksdale’s famous juke joints, that is why you’re here of course. If you’re lucky enough to squeeze into Red’s Lounge or Ground Zero, grab a beer and sway along until the early morning hours. In true Delta fashion, the party doesn’t stop when the doors close Saturday night; stick around for Cat Head’s Mini Blues Festival on Sunday afternoon before calling it quits.  Check out the lineup here.