As you may know, blues music emerged from the African-American communities who were economically disadvantaged or oppressed in the southern states during the years after the American Civil War.

Over the decades, the blues has grown to become a world-famous genre of music, producing great artists like Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and John Lee Hooker.

If you love the blues and want to explore its rich and diverse history, you can visit many places throughout the USA; though the top destinations are, as you would expect, in the southern states.

Here is a look at 10 of the best places to visit.

1. Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee

Beale Stree Memphis Tennessee

Beale Street is the beating heart of blues culture in Memphis, Tennessee.

An iconic location during the early twentieth century, Beale Street’s significance lies in its deep-rooted connection to the evolution of the blues from the moving labor chants of the Mississippi fields to the later refined street performances.

The place was home to many gifted blues musicians, such as W.C Handy , who is often referred to as the Father of Blues. Indeed, in 1917, Handy even released a song called Beale Street Blues.

Beale Street became a musical melting pot that crafted unique sounds and nourished the growth of the blues. Today, it remains a lively testament to the history and enduring influence of blues across generations.

2. Blue Front Café, Bentonia, Mississippi

If you want to explore Mississippi’s musical journey of the blues, there are lots of iconic places of historical interest that you can visit, as well as vibrant venues where you can enjoy watching modern blues musicians play.

Blue Front Café in Bentonia, Mississippi provides you with both history and great music.

The historic juke joint dates back to 1948. It once served as a meeting place for many notable blues musicians, including the owner Jimmy “Duck” Holmes.

In the modern day, you could have the chance to see the blues greats of tomorrow today.

3. The Chicago Blues Museum, Chicago, Illinois

If you are serious about educating yourself more about the history of the blues, one of the best places to learn is at the Chicago Blues Museum.

It offers a cellular exploration of the blues’ historical journey.

There is a good reason why this museum is in Chicago. When African-American communities migrated from the South to the Midwest, they carried their music with them. Chicago became a hotspot for music during that time.

Later, Chicago musicians started using amplified harmonicas and electric guitars, which added a new flavor to traditional blues.

The Chicago Blues Museum articulates that chapter of the blues, among the other stages of blues’ development, vividly through its exhibits.

4. Crossroads, Clarksdale, Mississippi

This place is literally a crossroads – not some cool-sounding blues venue.

The reason that blues fans enjoy visiting the intersection of Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale is that it is the spot where the notorious blues musician Robert Johnson supposedly traded his soul to the devil for unmatched musical talent.

Though the tale may be mythical, its enduring influence is a testament to the raw expression of human experience embodied in blues music.

5. The National Blues Museum, St. Louis, Missouri

Another blues museum that you should consider visiting is the National Blues Museum in St. Louis.

Nestled in the downtown area, the museum is committed to preserving and honoring the rich history of blues music.

With interactive exhibits that trace back blues’ roots to the deep South, it allows visitors to immerse themselves in the profound experiences leading to this soul-stirring genre’s creation.

Plus, there are plenty of historical artifacts on display that demonstrate the evolution of the blues.

6. Robert Johnson’s Gravesite, Greenwood, Mississippi

Seeing as Robert Johnson was one of the greatest blues guitarists to ever live, maybe he did actually sell his soul to the devil. If he did, it would seem that he traded his talent for his time on earth, as he died mysteriously at the age of 27. 

If you are a fan of Johnson, who single-handedly redefined the blues genre with his guitar skills and unique vocals, you may like to pay your respects by visiting his grave in Greenwood.

7. The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, Indianola, Mississippi

Many people consider B.B. King to be the godfather of the blues. If you are a fan yourself, you can visit his hometown of Indianola and find out more about the man behind the music at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center.

The state-of-the-art facility showcases interactive exhibits, memorabilia, and rare recordings by the King of the Blues.

8. Sun Studio, Memphis, Tennessee

Rightly called the Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll, Sun Studio in Memphis has an indomitable place in music history.

Established in 1950 by Sam Phillips, the tiny recording studio played host to groundbreaking artists like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and many emerging blues artists, including B.B. King. Indeed, Sun Studio helped to introduce blues to a broader audience.

Sun Studio continues to function as a recording studio to this day. But it is also a great museum that offers guided tours. So, you can stand in the very spot where blues music legends recorded their songs.

9. Blues Alley Jazz, Georgetown, Washington DC

While much of the birth and development of the blues is linked to southern states, its influence spread far beyond. So, you can also soak up the history of blues in Washington DC at Blues Alley Jazz. It is the nation’s oldest continually operating jazz supper club and it has seen some famous blues artists appearing over the years.

Founded in 1965, Blues Alley Jazz has seen performances by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Eva Cassidy.

Today, its intimate setting will take you on a vintage trip while also offering spectacular live performances. Visiting Blues Alley is like stepping into a time capsule. It transports you to an era where blues and jazz were shaping America’s sonic identity.

10. The Highway 61 Blues Museum, Leland, Mississippi

Highway 61, fondly dubbed the Blues Highway, is steeped in historical importance and the Highway 61 Blues Museum in Leland, Mississippi, pays homage to this legacy by showcasing the rich blues heritage of the Delta region.

Housing memorabilia from local artists and offering historical anecdotes through its exhibits, it tells stories of how sadness and hardship birthed soul-stirring blues music.


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