Day 2:    They went down to the Crossroads

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Waking a little worse for the wear around 10:30, Mike and Bone blearily went down stairs into the lobby for coffee and to wait for a Peabody fowl tradition,, the Duck March! 

Playing the Peabody's Two-Step

The Peabody’s famous Duck March is a custom dating back to the 1930s. The General Manager of the time, Frank Schutt, had just returned from a weekend hunting trip in Arkansas. He and his friends found it amusing to leave three of their live English Call Duck decoys in the hotel fountain. The guests loved the idea, and since then, five Mallard ducks (one drake and four hens) have played in the fountain every day.

In 1940, a Bellman by the name of Edward Pembroke volunteered to care for the ducks. Pembroke was given the position of "Duckmaster" and served in that position until 1991. As a former circus animal trainer, he taught the ducks to march into the hotel lobby, which started the famous Peabody Duck March. Every day at 11:00 a.m., the Peabody Ducks are escorted from their penthouse home, on the Plantation Roof, to the lobby via elevator. The ducks, accompanied by the King Cotton March by John Phillip Sousa, then proceed across a red carpet to the hotel fountain, made of a solid block of Italian travertine marble. The ducks are then ceremoniously led back to their penthouse at 5:00 p.m. Mike and Bone hadda admit, it was VERY cool. but it was pushing 11:30 and they needed to stop ducking around and get into the Blues Brothers Tour. But first they wanted to right one wrong from the Civil Whites Tour; checking out the National Civil Rights Museum.

Civil Whites Redux: Touring The National Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum is a complex of museums and historic buildings in Memphis, Tennessee; its exhibits trace the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the 17th century to the present. The museum is built around the former Lorraine Motel, where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. It has also acquired the Young and Morrow Building, and its associated vacant lot on the West side of Mulberry, as part of the museum complex. A tunnel was built under the lot to connect the building with the motel. The Foundation became the custodian of the police and evidence files associated with the assassination, including the rifle and fatal bullet. The latter are on display in a 12,800 sq. foot exhibit in the former Y & M building.

The exhibits were interesting and educational. When the tour checked out the room that James Earl Ray used to shoot Martin Luther King, it felt a little like the 6th Floor Museum in Dallas. When Mike and Bone asked the very young tour guide on her thoughts of a conspiracy, she had a very thoughtful and adult response. She said quite often when someone so meaningless kills someone so meaningful it is simply hard to accept. That is why so often that conspiracy theories emerge when a famous person is killed by a no one like Lee Harvey Oswald or James Earl Ray. With that thoughtful lesson, the Boys realized that it was pushing 1:00 and they needed to get down to the Cross Roads! 

Blues Travelers!

It was a good sign (literally!) to be traveling to Clarksdale down the B.B. King Highway. As they left town Mike and Bone were a little blue, but only because they were hungry! For more award winning Ribs!

Pigging out on the Interstate!

Mike and Bone, with bones!!

Along with the Rendezvous, there are many, many famous Memphis Bar-be-que joints, one of which is Jim Neely's Interstate. Since Mike and Bone were passing the Interstate on the B.B. King Highway they hadda stop!

The story on the Interstate is in 1978, Jim Neely purchased the Interstate Grocery at 2265 South 3rd Street, and in 1979, he purchased the property and then converted the store to Interstate BBQ Restaurant. This established the Neely name on the Memphis Bar-be-que scene. Ordering up some pork ribs, cole slaw, and corn bread, the Boys dived into it with relish since they hadn't eaten since they had the ribs at B.B. Kings the night before.

The synopsis, the Interstates ribs were just all right. They were pretty fatty and did not really do it for the Boys. In fact they were pretty much ribbed out, and kept ribbing each other about it the remainder of the Blues Brothers Trip!

The Gateway to the Blues Museum !

Jake and Elwood's Ride!

This rustic Train Depot, circa 1895 is the home to the Gateway to the Blues Museum. It is a kitschy “museum” that supposedly tells the remarkable story of how The Blues was born in Mississippi. It is more of a souvenir stand. While it was a good bladder stop halfway to Clarksdale, the Boys didn’t linger to long. On the way out Mike and Bone noticed that their Rental Car had Illinois plates, just like Joliet Jake and Elwood! 

They got down to the Cross Roads !!!

Clarksdale has been immortalized by Eric Clapton, when he sings about "Going down to the Cross Roads" As Mike and Bone came to the Crossroads at Hwy 61 (the B.B.King Highway) and Hwy 49 there is a trio of electric guitars on a pole that is the spot where Robert Johnson made his pact with the devil for the ability to play the blues on his guitar.

Robert Johnson who? Ranked number five on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s inaugural ballot in 1986. Named one of the Top 50 Guitarists of All Time by A major influence to some of the music industry’s biggest names such as Eric Clapton, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac, just to name a few. For most great musicians, the above accomplishments might say enough about the legacy they left behind. But for the legendary Robert Johnson, his posthumous awards and honors only tell half the story of his mysterious and enigmatic life.

From the famous Crossroads where Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil, to the purported poisoning that ended his life, to his multiple tombstone locations, maybe no other Mississippi Delta musician offers as much intrigue as Robert Leroy Johnson.

The story of Robert Johnson doesn’t start or stop with his instrumental talents. The lore behind this Delta musician runs much deeper than that -- down a road of mystery, lore, mythology, and some say, reality. As the story goes, in the 1930’s Robert Johnson ventured to a Mississippi cross roads at midnight to make a deal with the devil. The pact? Offer his eternal soul for Lucifer’s hellacious guitar tuning skills. With guitar in-hand, Johnson and the devil stuck an accord. According to the legend, Johnson’s new talents were immediate. In fact, Son House -- a boyhood idol of Robert Johnson and one of the most highly regarded blues guitarists of all time -- said Johnson’s seemingly overnight metamorphosis from a poor guitar player to an elite guitarist must have meant he sold his soul to the devil at the Crossroads. “He sold his soul to play like that,” House once said.

Tall tale? Maybe. Maybe not.

It is popular belief that the story is an adaptation of the African Hoodoo folktale brought over by West African slaves. It states that if you wait on a moonless night at a country cross roads, the guardian spirit of the cross roads will offer fame, money and success in exchange for the soul. The insertion of the devil in place of the crossroad’s deity in Johnson’s account almost certainly developed from the Christian influences that existed in North America at the time slaves arrived. The fable was a hopeful and inspiring story among the poor, struggling, and very spiritual blacks of the Delta during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Because of this belief, most of Johnson’s contemporaries saw nothing implausible about his mystical account.

After reading about the story, they had ammunition for the next couple of days where anyone was MORE that willing to give their point of view on the Robert Johnson story. But the Boys had find their cool kool crash pad for the night!

Pinetop Perkins Old Farm, the Shack Up Inn: Mike and Bone's Pad for the Night!

Mike and Bone had made reservations (with some reservations!) for the Shack Up Inn on the Hopson Plantation, located three miles east from the legendary Crossroads, in Clarksdale. Virtually unchanged from when it was a working plantation, the Boys stayed in authentic sharecropper shacks, along with the original cotton gin and seed houses and other outbuildings.

You will glimpse plantation life, as it existed only a few short years ago when it was the birthplace of the legendary Pinetop Perkins. In addition, you will find one of the first mechanized cotton pickers, manufactured by International Harvester, as you stroll around the compound. Their corrugated tin roofs and Mississippi cypress walls conjured visions of a bygone era. Restored only enough to accommodate 21st century expectations (indoor bathrooms, heat, air conditioning, coffee maker with condiments, refrigerators and microwave in all the units), the shacks provide comfort as well as authenticity.

Shack Up Inn has played host to such blues performers and movie stars as Tom Waits, Pinetop Perkins, the North Mississippi Allstars, Dwayne, Gary and Cedric Burnside, Kenny Brown, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant, Johnny Neel, Morgan Freeman, Patty Griffin, Big Jack Johnson, Samuel J. Jackson, Sam Carr, Charlie Musselwhite, Robert Plant, Mary Louise Parker, John Mayall, Ike Turner, and Joey Lauren Adams just to name a few. So it was ripe for a visit from Mike and Bone! 

The Boys Bungalows!

A Bizarrely Painted Bathroom !

The Boys checked in and checked out the eclectic and somewhat bizarrely furnish rooms. However they were pretty cool, and certainly not the worst the Boys had crashed in! They headed over to the Shack Up Inn Bar.  

Procuring Pilsner Urquels at the Shack Up In Bar!

The Bartender with his Friend Joey Lauren Adams on the Poster!

Mike and Bone Sauntered into the Bar and ordered a few Pilsner Urquels and immediately started chatting with the other patrons and the Bar Tender, Bob.

Jammin' on Joey. The Boys noticed the Chasing Amy Poster, and Bob had mentioned that Joey Lawrence Adams was a frequent visitor and has actually helped Bob behind the Bar serving beers! Since it was only February it really wasn't tourist season yet, so most of the patrons were folks who worked there and locals. Of course being Mike and Bone, after several rounds of those great Check beers they quickly became the center of attention. Finding out the reasons that the Boys came down, everyone started to give their version of what really happened to Robert Johnson when he was supposedly poisoned by the jealous Husband of his girlfriend. Learning Mike and Bone's affinity for history everyone strongly suggested that they needed to check out Vicksburg on Saturday.

When Mike asked where they should go for that authentic Mississippi blues juke joint experience, everyone agreed for the Blues, it was Reds ! Bidding a fond farewell to their new friends the Boys headed into town for Reds.  

Joliet JakeBone, ready for Reds!

Elwood Mike, hankering for some old-timey Blues !!

 Mike and Bone headed into a gamey part of town only to find Reds. Reds is the real deal, and exemplifies an authentic blues scene. It is backed by the river, fronted by the grave, a classic Juke Joint!

Mike, hankering for some old-timey Blues !!

Mike and Bone walked in and found that they were the only whites listening to the Blues in red, but no matter! A coupla of PBR's two folding seats, and they fit right in for the Main Act. A real old-timey Blues Man, 71 year old Robert Belfour!

Blues Beltin' Robert Balfour!

Robert "Wolfman" Belfour is classic Delta Blues man. Born in Red Banks, Mississippi. His father, Grant Belfour taught him the guitar at a young age and he continued his tutelage in the blues from musicians Otha Turner, R. L. Burnside, and Junior Kimbrough. Kimbrough, in particular, had a profound influence on him. His music is deeply rooted in Mississippi Hill Country traditions, in contrast to those of delta blues. His playing is characterized by a deeply percussive attack and alternate tunings.

His father died when Belfour was thirteen, and his music was relegated to what free time he had, as his energy went to helping his mother provide for the family. In 1959, he married Noreen Norman and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he would work in construction for the next 35 years.

In the 1980s, Belfour began playing on Beale Street and in 1994 he had eight songs featured on David Evans's compilation album, The Spirit Lives On, Deep South Country Blues and Spirituals in the 1990s, released by the German Hot Fox label. This led him to Fat Possum Records and his first album What's Wrong With You, released in 2000. His album, Pushin' My Luck, followed in 2003 to a positive critical review.

On this night Mike and Bone was ready to give him another positive critical review! He made that guitar cry and scream like a possum getting gutted by a rotor tiller ! Meanwhile the every increasing PBR's were again playing their magic on the Blues Brothers!

The Blues Brothers at Reds: Joliet JakeBone, Elwood Mike, and Robert Balfour !

He did 3 sets with a combinations of his originals, old time classics (his version of "Sweet Home Chicago" was awesome!), and even a few Eric Clapton tunes ! The Boys asked if he would mind being in there picture, and he graciously agreed and posed with the poseurs.

This night was the whole purpose of the Blues Brothers Tour! Sitting is a jenuwine juke joint, listening to a master blues man in the Delta!

An hour past the witching hour of Midnight, Mike and Bone decided to go on to the Crossroads, back to the Shack Up Inn, before they crossed the Devil with Robert Johnson !