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Delta Blues Museum
1 Blues Alley
Clarksdale, MS 38614

The Delta Blues Museum is located in a handsome converted old train station near the heart of Clarksdale, a town that is a little worse for the wear of the years.

We had high hopes for this, being blues fans, and Mary in particular a Delta blues fan. But the exhibits were random and poorly organized, with no sense of chronology nor context. They had a few interesting things, but the only knock-out was a temporary one; the sharecropper’s cabin occupied by Muddy Waters and his family during his childhood. This humble dwelling was restored thanks to efforts from House of Blues owner Isaac Tiggert, and an experience for any Muddy fan (or any blues fan looking for a visual on where the blues really comes from—poverty), but it’s a traveling exhibit that will eventually be returned to its original plantation location. That in and of itself is not a bad thing but it does leave the Delta Blues Museum without much of a hook.

Inside is a guitar that a ZZ Top member had made out of a plank of the cypress wood he took from the cabin when it was in near-ruins, meticulously crafted into the style of guitar favored by Muddy himself, complete with a squiggle painted on it to simulate the Mississippi. What a great homage, what a connection and continuity, what a talisman—but it’s sitting in a glass case, not being played. What a waste. And in a way, it’s a metaphor for how we found the museum on a whole; a terrific idea, the best of intentions, and squandered opportunities. Delta blues, both musically and historically, are anything but dry museum pieces. Someone who knows how to write museum copy please call them and offer your services, okay?

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