Blues and jazz lovers will likely know about Clarksdale Mississippi, the home of the Delta Blues and where some of the best blues musicians started and have played over the years. It’s a funky little American town and if you are interested in American History, the South and southern culture and blues music, Clarksdale is a must for your Southern State list. There are two notable places I’d recommend for lodging and they couldn’t be different from each other.
Right in the center of town, you’ll find Five and Dime Lofts on Yazoo Street, together with its sister restaurant next door on the ground floor – Yazoo Pass. The entire building is owned by a guy they refer to as Bubba in town. You probably don’t expect a guy named Bubba to have an Irish surname, but Bubba O’Keefe is somewhat legendary in Clarksdale. You can learn more about the background of the Five and Dime Lofts in this short, but interesting video that will take you to the past when it was once an old Woolworth building in its heyday.
Bubba has been referred to as a visionary homeboy and in one article on him, he had said, “…born here, raised here and I’m going to die here.” While some were out seeking their fame and fortune in the world after college, Bubba was more interested in his hometown. He renovated the old Woolworth building into modern and hip lofts, large and comfortable enough that you could easily live in one.
The modern motif has a whole lotta music and art thrown into — from abstract and surreal paintings to brightly colored chairs in the living room area. The kitchen is fully updated with all the amenities and comforts you could possibly need for your stay, from a microwave and coffee maker to a closet stacked with sodas, waters and candles. There’s even a washer and dryer which was a godsend for us, since we had already been on the road for a week and a half by the time we hit Mississippi.
Our loft had clean designs throughout, which you can see most accurately in the main bedroom area, which had it’s own private bathroom with shower. The fun part about staying here is its convenience to all things downtown and you can pretty much walk to anywhere from Yahoo Street. Also, even though you have a full kitchen in which to prepare breakfast or other meals, Yazoo Pass has excellent food and it’s a great place to grab a cuppa Joe and people watch in the mornings.
We had Loft B, but from the photos we browsed through, it appears that all the lofts have a similar kitchen set up – the trimmings and colors may change, but all of them stay within the same modern motif. Below is a shot of Loft A’s living area, so you can get an idea. Once you have booked the place, they’ll give you a code to the main door as well as one for your loft number so you can get in and out as you please. It’s also a great choice for families because of the convenient amenities and space.
Above photo taken from the Five and Dime Lofts website.
Five and Dime Lofts
211 Yazoo Avenue
Clarksdale, MS 38614
On the outskirts of town, the Shack Up Inn offers an entirely different flavor. Opposite of modern and sleek designs, this is the place to go if you’re hungry for southern culture, history and of course, the Mississippi Blues. Their website has an amusing and full disclosure statement, so clearly marked that it’s a tab on their site – the Ritz We Ain’t! For the traditional luxury lovers among you, the Shack Up Inn may not be for you, but “luxury” is not the reason to stay at the Shack Up Inn. It’s let’s just say, an experiential stay in more reasons than one.
We stayed at Five and Dime Lofts because it was convenient, it was modern, it had reliable wifi and modern bathrooms and kitchen appliances, it had a washer and dryer and it was smack in the middle of winter. If your trip south is all about blues, the Shack Up Inn makes for an interesting choice for a myriad of reasons, but first and foremost, because of its authentic almost grunge like ambiance and its direct connection to blues music and musicians.
It’s hard to explain the Shack Up Inn to anyone who hasn’t stepped foot on its grounds, which is in the heart of the Hopson Plantation, a mere three miles out of central Clarksdale, on the crossroads of Highways 49 and 61.
Virtually unchanged from when it was a working plantation, you’ll find authentic sharecropper shacks, the original cotton gin and seed houses and other outbuildings. You will glimpse plantation life, as it existed not that long ago. In addition, you will find one of the first mechanized cotton pickers, manufactured by International Harvester, as you stroll around the compound. It was raining when we arrived and I can’t tell you all the objects I discovered under the wet skies, camera in hand without an umbrella, suspended by the almost artistic chaos of it all.
It seemed to spread in all directions and each shack had it’s own unique charm. Rusted trucks are sprawled out on the property in the oddest of places and the building’s corrugated tin roofs and Mississippi cypress walls will conjure visions of a bygone era, taking you far back in time to a Mississippi you can only imagine from novels and movies. And so, like a kid in a candy store, I went exploring, so mesmerized by it all, that I barely took notice of the rain and cold air penetrating my bones as I took shot after shot. And so it went…..I couldn’t seem to get enough of the relics from a yesteryear I have been curious about for as long as I can remember.
There’s also a main building, which is where you check in of course, but they also have a bar and club where you can hear authentic blues in the evenings. Like the shacks that surround it, the building is rustic, authentic and all things grunge, but artistically so.
You can find interesting gems in the gift shop, such as blues CDs from names you may never have heard of, to bottle tops and funky artwork – I bought a small painting of a saxophone player, which now proudly hangs in my kitchen.
You can stay in one of their renovated shotgun shacks or one of the newly renovated bins in the Cotton Gin. They have been restored only enough to accommodate 21st century expectations — indoor bathrooms, heat, air conditioning, coffee maker with condiments, refrigerators and microwave in all the units.
A must “to-do” while there as long as it’s not teaming down with rain that is: sit in the rocker on the porch, sipping a cold beer while the sun sinks slowly to the horizon and then head to the main building to catch some authentic old fashioned blues while you sip another.
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, Super Chikan, Sam Carr, Charlie Musselwhite, Robert Plant, Mary Louise Parker, John Mayall, Ike Turner, Barefoot Workshops,Down 2 the Crossroads Guitar & Bass Camp and Jon Gindick’s Harmonica Jam Camp just to name a few.
Below are a few shots of the inside of the shacks to give you an idea of the sleeping area.
Above photo from Shack Up Inn website/from photographer Austin Britt.
Above photo taken from Trip Advisor.
Above photo from Shack Up Inn website/from photographer Austin Britt.
Shack Up Inn
1 Commissary Circle
Clarksdale, MS 38614
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.
She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.
Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.
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