I'm Goin' to Jackson

Photo in the Public Domain
The song "Jackson," made famous by Johnny Cash & June Carter never says whether or not they are  referring to Jackson, Mississippi or Jackson, Tennessee, but ask anyone from Mississippi, and they'll claim the song as their own. Why? Because Jackson, MS also calls itself the Birthplace of America's Music, and they certainly have a right to claim it too. Dozens of musicians were born in Mississippi, many of whom got their musical start in Jackson. Today, live music can be heard throughout the city. Top venues include Martins, WC Dons, and Hal & Mal's. Gospel, Country, Blue, Rock: they all have a foundation in Mississippi, and as Jackson is the largest city in the state (and the state capitol), you're sure to find some here.

You'll also find the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame. Admission is free, and the museum itself is located inside the Jackson International Airport.If your plans don't lead you in this direction, or you need to skip the airport, the Hall of Fame's website is a wealth of information, and they offer a Mississippi Blues Map in their online store.

Following is a list of musicians (of varying genres) born in the state of Mississippi, according to the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame. 

Elvis Presley (Tupelo), Glen Ballard (Natchez), Jimmy Buffett (Pascagoula), Ike Turner (Clarksdale)< Jerry Lee Lewis (Nesbit), Mary Wilson (Greenwood), Robert Johnson (Hazlehurst), B. B. King (Itta Bena), Muddy Waters (Rolling Fork), Howlin Wolf (White Station), Tommy Johnson  (Terry), Honey Boy Edwards (Shaw), Faith Hill (Star), Charley Pride (Sledge), Conway Twitty - Friars Point, Tammy Wynette - Tremont, Mose Allison (Tippo), Cassandra Wilson (Jackson), Lance, Bass (Laurel/Clinton), Sam Cooke (Clarksdale), Bo Diddley (McComb), John Lee Hooker (Clarksdale), Junior Parker (Clarksdale).

Standing at the Crossroads

As the American legend goes, Bluesman Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical talents, but where on Earth is the famous crossroads? No one knows for sure, but one can get close.

The most likely area would be the source of the blues in 1920s America, Dockery Plantation. Dockery Plantation's owner allowed employees at his mill to play guitars imported from Mexico during breaks. Among the first crop of musicians: Henry SloanWillie Brown, Tommy Johnson, and Eddie "Son" House, and later Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson.

The plantation was located along the Sunflower River on what is now MS Highway 8 between Cleveland, and Ruleville.   The attached picture shows one of a few crossroads along that stretch of highway, and is very likely to have been a road Johnson would have traveled.


If your journey leads you to search for the infamous crossroads, be sure not to miss the Mississippi Blues Trail that notes markers along the route from deep in the Delta region all the way up to Memphis, TN.

If traveling by air, Memphis will afford you the most travel options, as it is the largest city in this region. See also our tips for traveling to and around Memphis on your music tour.


Don't Forget the Motor City

Detroit means Motown, baby!!!! You get it, right? “Mo(tor) Town. As in Henry Ford. You’d be surprised who doesn’t realize that. Anyway, any music lover absolutely must see The Motor City at least once. The MoTown sound started here, but the city is also home to lots of Gospel (and its Hall of Fame). And let’s not forget KISS wrote their classic Detroit Rock City for this town too.
More recently, Detroit is the birthplace of techno. In the late 1980s, artists Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins created this electronic sound. Seems fitting for a place so rife with engineering. Here are a few tips to get you about on your trip through Detroit.
Your first stop must be- has to be the Motown Museum. Period. 

Next, consider seeing the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Did you know it was here? Well, it is.
And don’t think about missing one of my favorite museums anywhere (and I live in Washington DC- home of the Smithsonian): the Henry Ford Museum. This private collection offers a lot for the music enthusiast. You’re likely to spot a revolutionary war drum (like the one in the famous portrait to the right). Other collections include some of Edison’s earliest recording devices, which would later record and immortalize music. At one point, the museum also hosted over a dozen cars belonging to rock starts (i.e. John Lennon, and Elvis Presley). Be sure to call the museum to see if these music items (and others) are on display.
Suggested Stays:
The Motorcity Casino.
The Leiland Hotel (home to the City Club- the city’s Industrial Music nightclub.


I Wanna Be a Rockstar: Renting a Celebrity Home

So you would like to see what its like to live like a rockstar. Then what would you say if I told you that you (yes, you) could stay in the home of a bonafide world-class musician? Well, now you can... for a price, of course. 
More and more celebrities of all types are renting out their vacation homes when they are aren't being used, and that goes for celebrities of the musical variety too. Here are a few to consider for your next getaway. 

Mick Jagger's home in Mustique has been for rent since the rock star purchased it in 2006. Price upon request. You might even run into Mick's neighbor, Davud Bowie who has a home (not for rent) there.

For a mere $51,000 per night you can sleep at Sir Richard Branson's  Necker Island. In case you didn't know, Sir Richard started Virgin Records. And Virgin Air. And Virgin Mobile. And the forthcoming  Virgin Galactic. Anyway, you'll have 74 acres, a full staff and room for 27 of your best friends. And if you have no friends, surely renting this abode will get you some.

If Branson's Necker Island is too much to bear, try Keith Richard's pad in nearby Turks & Caicos. This beachfront number will cost you a "reasonable" $8107 per night. By comparison, that's chump change.

Meanwhile, Eric Clapton is offering his Standfast Point home for rent in Antigua. This one is my personal favorite. Rates (at the time of this post) went for $50,000 per week. Details on this estate can be found here.

2157a.jpgPrefer your music stars to be in the country world? Then try Randy Travis' two Hawaiian estates. His larger Lahaina Estate, will run you $1250 per night, while the more modest digs will cost $450. Both properties are on Maui. 

And that's how they roll.


Eat to the Beat: New York City

Restaurants come and go in New York. So too do music venues. Here are a few music inspired restaurants that you can count on being around for awhile. 

Music themed decorum.
754 9th Avenue 
New York, NY 10019
Ellen's Stardust Diner
Broadway Inspired Diner. This is a good choice is Grandma is accompanying you. 
1650 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Bluenote Jazz Club
Now offering brunch in this jazz landmark.
131 W. 3rd St
New York, NY 10012

Cafe Wha?
Jimi ate here. Nuff said. 
115 Macdougal (b/w Bleecker and W 3rd)
New York, NY

Cool, edgy vibes in the heart of the indie music scene.
159 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002


Session 73
According to their website, 'music is at the heart of Session 73... Tango and Salsa sets the backdrop early in the week, while more mainstream... and vocalists liven things up as the week moves on.'
1359 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10021 
Hard Rock CafĂ© 
One can count on this chain being designed and set up in a similar fashion to others throughout the US. The burger still rocks, though. 
221 West 57th Street (212) 489-6565