(TUNICA, MS) – You’re in a
cotton field in the Mississippi Delta at midnight. Your eyes are closed. Moon
is shining; crickets are chirping. Then you hear it: a rhythm like a heartbeat,
licks on a guitar and voices singing of real-life struggles and joys.
Now open your eyes and see where you really are: in Tunica, Mississippi, on Blues Highway 61 at the Gateway To The Blues Museum, a fully restored train depot circa 1895. With its striking neon sign and authentic rustic charm, this fascinating site not only is a must-stop for music lovers and fans of art, history and folklore, but also the gateway to Tunica and the blues.
Where the Blues Comes to Life
Your blues journey begins!
Inside this larger-than-it-looks museum, you will learn where the blues genre came
from, why it’s called the blues, and how the blending of cultures—African,
European, Native American—would ultimately birth the blues. Through interactive
exhibits, videos and recordings you can see and hear blues performers. Learn what
makes the Delta unique. Hear how Robert Johnson traded his soul to the devil to
be able to play the blues like a master. Learn to play the lap steel guitar and
the diddley bow. See more than 20 famous guitars on display. There’s even a recording
studio where you can record your own blues song, then take it with you via
email. That’s just a short list of what awaits you.
And inside a mesmerizing “starlit”
room, encircled by artist George Hunt’s deeply evocative paintings of eight blues
greats, you will feel like you’re right there:
in a field, in a juke joint, on the front porch listening to the true
stars of the Delta sing the blues as naturally as breathing air. It’s truly
it Began, Where it’s Going Strong
Almost all of the most
influential blues artists were born and raised in the Mississippi Delta: B.B.
King, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Charley Patton, Son House,
Sonny Boy Williamson, and many others. These bluesmen gave birth to the
distinctive high lonesome sound forever after equated with the Delta. Tunica is
located on the Mississippi Blues Trail, which features over 200 historical
markers throughout the state. If you’d like to visit the six markers in
Tunica, the Visitor Center staff is happy to assist with the next leg of your
journey, as well as help you find the perfect Tunica souvenir in the gift shop.
Then make sure to visit
Tunica’s seven resort casinos for table games, slots, live entertainment,
lip-smacking dining and more. And plan a stop in the charming town of Tunica
itself, cozy, welcoming and steeping with southern charm.
After experiencing Gateway To
The Blues, you may agree with what many say:
the blues is a universal language. As bluesman John Lee Hooker says, “The
blues will heal you.” In fact, instead
of discovering the blues, you may find the blues has been inside you all along.