Late summer in the Mississippi Delta means cooler temperatures, the glow of fireflies and live music. Greenville, Miss., will attract tens of thousands of music fans to two of the region’s biggest music festivals in September, touting acts such as Grammy Award® winner Bobby Rush and two-time Americana Music Association award winning Shovels & Rope.
First up is the 40th annual Mississippi Delta Blues & Heritage Festival, hosted at Delta Blues Festival Park in Greenville. Soul and blues legend Bobby Rush leads a packed lineup featuring guitar prodigy Kingfish, blues torchbearer Grady Champion, soul singer Denise LaSalle and the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band, led by descendants of hill country pioneer Otha Turner. Gates open at 10 a.m. on September 16 with four stages of entertainment.
Fall officially rolls in just before the Mighty Mississippi Music Festival gets underway at Greenville’s Warfield Point Park, running September 28 through October 1. Performances from acclaimed soul revivalists St. Paul & the Broken Bones and folk duo Shovels & Rope, plus singer-songwriter Chris Knight and bluesmen Jarekus Singleton, Cedric Burnside and Kenny Brown highlight the weekend. Check out the event’s Spotify playlist and get ready to boogie.
While you’re here, expand your horizons by exploring the musical history of the Delta. Here are five must-see music attractions for your journey.
Walnut Street in Greenville
The river port city of Greenville was a stopping point for many blues singers throughout the years, and Walnut Street was the epicenter. The Walnut Street Blues Walk commemorates the achievements of many blues artists, while the Walnut Street Blues Bar keeps the tradition alive and well with live performances. Check out the Highway 61 Blues Museum in nearby Leland for a deeper dive into blues lore.
GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi
While the rhythm of the blues beats in every corner of the state, the genre’s global impact is on display at the interactive GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi in Cleveland. Learn the connections Mississippi musicians have to the industry’s most prestigious award and popular music worldwide. Songwriting pods allows visitors to get hands-on among displays showcasing music memorabilia. Take a side trip to Dockery Farms, where blues pioneer Charley Patton lived and worked.
B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center
Get the whole story of the blues at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, which explores the regional culture and traces the life of the blues movement’s biggest star. Artifacts, video and interactive exhibits put you on the tour bus as King graduates from the chitlin’ circuit to worldwide acclaim. The center also is his final resting place.
Delta Blues Museum
Known as the world’s first museum devoted to the blues, the Delta Blues Museum is housed at the former train depot in Clarksdale, where blues artists began spreading their music to audiences in Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago and beyond. The collection includes the remains of the cabin where Muddy Waters lived as a sharecropper at Stovall Farms, as well as instruments owned by legends John Lee Hooker, Charlie Musselwhite and B.B. King. Stop by Ground Zero Blues Club or Red’s Lounge to hear live blues music.
Mississippi Blues Trail
Nearly 200 interpretive markers across the Birthplace of America’s Music commemorate the people and places responsible for creating, documenting and spreading blues music. Download the free Mississippi Blues Trail app for iOS and Android devices and chart your course of historical spots highlighting blues artists, iconic juke joints and other important locations. Visit the Mississippi Country Music Trail markers in the region to see how both blues and country music evolved.