Travel Guide for Blues Lovers

The form of music known as the blues began around the turn of the 19th century and was born out of the strife of African-American laborers. The subject matter of these first songs includes bad luck, trouble and downtrodden souls who yearn to break free from their misery.

These haunting renditions have been played, sung and heard countless times, often at the crossroads of Highway 61 and 49 or on Beale Street in Mississippi. Yet, the blues didn’t stop there. In fact, it has evolved into many different regional forms and has influenced music genres such as rock ‘n’ roll and country. Find out more below in this collection of over 40 resources, many of which can help you discover your next blues travel destination and what awaits you.

 

General Blues Resources

This general resource section is loaded with song samples, a timeline, pictures, historical facts, blues artist bios and much more related to this iconic genre.

AMG All Music Guide – A comprehensive guide to music that allows users to search any blues artist and listen to samples of their recorded songs.

Delta Blues Museum – Located in Clarksdale, Mississippi, this museum is the state’s oldest music museum. It strives to preserve, interpret and encourage the fascinating story of the blues.

Blues Online – Discover biographies, photos, music excerpts and more related to the many aspects of blues artists and their music.

All About Blues Music – Discover an extensive resource that includes an A to Z listing of information about hundreds of blues artists, a downloadable blues tutorial and much, much more.

International Blues Music Day – Follow the link to find out about the annual International Blues Music Day and check out the list of the top 100 classic blues songs while you’re there.

Blues Apps – Find out about five cool apps that are perfect for people who really dig the blues.

Interactive Timeline of B.B. King – Enjoy this interactive timeline packed with facts about the late and legendary blues artist, Mr. B.B. King.

Famous Blues Artist – Enjoy browsing various bios and pictures of blues artists from different eras on Biography.com.

Blues Styles – Find out about the different styles of blues – Texas, Chicago, Delta – including their histories and characteristics.

Top 10 Modern Blues Guitarists – The list details the top 10 influential modern blues guitarists and includes greats such as John Mayer and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

 

New Orleans Blues Travel Resources

New Orleans is a must on any serious blues enthusiast’s to-do list. Find out the best options for live blues music below.

Blues Festivals – Check out this link to find out about upcoming blues festivals in New Orleans. Date, time, location and ticket cost are provided.

Maple Leaf Bar – Check out some of the best live blues acts in the city at this popular venue on Bourbon Street.

The Funky Pirate Blues Club – If you’re down for a night of rowdy fun, visit this dive bar on Bourbon Street that specializes in live blues.

Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar – Live blues and dancing are the experience you’ll get at this local hub. You’ll also get a side of soul and funk and jazz thrown in.

 

Mississippi Blues Travel Resources

The Mississippi Delta was the birthplace of the blues back in the 19th century, and the blues tradition is still going strong today. Learn about famous blues venues and festivals by browsing the resources below.

Mississippi Blues Trail – Learn everything you ever wanted to know about this famous historical trail through the land of blues that includes 186 sites.

Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival – This annual festival celebrates one of America’s most popular musical forms: Mississippi Delta Blues.

Juke Joint Festival – Enjoy over 100 blues acts during this unique event that features legendary Mississippi and Southern artists.

Deep South USA: Mississippi – Discover the various clubs along Highway 61 aka “The Blues Highway” or the juke joints located on the back roads of Mississippi.

Ground Zero Blues Club – Actor Morgan Freeman owns this Clarksdale, MS club, established in 2001, which offers authentic blues music in a modern live music venue.

Hal and Mal’s – Brothers Malcolm and Hal White opened this Jackson, MS establishment in 1985 that features southern cuisine and, during the summer, some of the hottest blues acts in the state.

Mississippi Delta Blues: American Cornerstone – Hear samples of four of the greatest Mississippi Delta Blues artists from the 1920s and 30s.

 

Chicago Blues Travel Resources

Chicago has its own variation of blues music – the Chicago blues, which includes drums and a piano. Hear that version as well as others at the following venues in the city.

Chicago Blues Festival – Ready for a free blues festival? Enjoy three days of music on five stages with more than half a million fans in the “Blues Capital of the World.”

Kingston Mines – Two rooms, two different stages, two bands. That’s what you’ll find at this unique club located in Lincoln Park.

Buddy Guy’s Legends – Founder and Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy opened this club as a venue for the blues. Check it out seven nights a week.

B.L.U.E.S. – It’s important to note that this is a listening venue. In other words, don’t plan on any intimate conversations. While the music is loud, it’s from some of the city’s best blues artists.

Blue Chicago  – If the locals come to listen to the music at a club, then it must be a good spot. See for yourself the next time you’re in the Windy City.

 

Austin, TX Blues Travel Resources

Austin, TX, which is nationally known as the “live music capital of the world,” offers several different blues venues. Check out the options below.

The Skylark Lounge – Located in an obscure part of Austin, this dive bar/music venue is a great spot to hear some of the finest local and traveling musical talent.

Antone’s Nightclub – Known as the “Home of the Blues,” Antone’s has been host to many notable blues artists such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush and more.

Friends Bar – Listen to some of Austin’s greatest local blues bands at this laid-back bar with friendly wait staff, which is located on Austin’s historic 6th street.

Stay Gold – Located on East Cesar Chavez in Austin, Stay Gold has a speakeasy vibe and is an all-inclusive space where patrons can drink, eat, relax and experience great music such as the blues.

 

Memphis, TN Travel Resources

Memphis is known as the home of American blues music, and it has several different venues that pay tribute to its status. Check them out below.

B.B. King’s Blues Club – While there are other locations of this club, this is the original. Patrons can enjoy live entertainment every night of the week that includes authentic blues.

Rum Boogie Cafés Blues Hall – If you’ve never been to an authentic juke joint, make sure to put Rum Boogie Cafe’s Blues Hall on your bucket list. However, be prepared to wait for a seat because it’s a small venue.

Beale Street Tap Room – Described as “old school cool” by some, Beale Street Tap Room offers live blues and R & B, a nice selection of beers on tap and a laid-back vibe.

Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum – Created by the Smithsonian Institution, this museum’s exhibitions document the birth of rock and soul music and how it impacted the world.

Silky O’Sullivans – When visiting this bar that specializes in blues music and dueling pianos, don’t miss the opportunity to check out the patio. It has Ella Fitzgerald’s handprints and signature as well as those of other notable singers and celebrities.

Blues Hall of Fame Museum – This museum, opened in 2015, has over 400 inductees and offers interactive exhibits and one-of-a-kind memorabilia.

 

Blues Podcasts

Immerse yourself in blues-related music, trivia and history by listening to one or more of these podcasts.

The Roadhouse – Tune in to this podcast to hear the broadest range of blues music you – and lots of others – have ever had the pleasure of hearing.

Blues Unlimited – The Radio Show – Host Sleepy Boy Hawkins delivers history, heritage and the culture of blues music on this radio show.

Nothing but the Blues – What started out as a radio show soon became a podcast. Listen to it for the earliest to the latest of blues music.

The Blues Kitchen Podcast – This weekly podcast hosted by Liam & Gaz celebrates a wide range of blues music – from the 1920s to the present.

On This Day in Blues History – Keeping it short and sweet, P.W. Fenton tells listeners in the space of two minutes what happened on the current date related to the history of the Blues.