Day 6: December 27, 2007
Tepees and Jook Joints
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Fellow roadie Alex Burr joined me in Jackson. I had every intention of snapping his picture when I picked him up last evening but the continuing rain interfered with that. So I got my first picture at our first attraction. It's the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson. Roof damage from Katrina has temporarily closed it but repair crews are on the scene.

Heading up US-49, we were surprised by a giant tepee at roadside. It is the rather new (2005) dining room of Big D's Tepee BBQ in Pocahontas. Manager Terry Vaughn invited us in for a look see and a chat. The flags of fifty some Indian nations hang from the ceiling with that of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws right at the entrance. It was a little early for BBQ but we could smell things cooking and Terry stepped away a few times to tend to something. During our long conversation with Terry we learned a lot of things, such as the fact he's an avid ham radio operator, but we forgot to ask the question that struck us when we first spied the building: Why a teepee in Mississippi? That question and a taste of the BBQ we only smelled will have to come on another visit.

While eating breakfast at the motel, we looked through a few of the advertising handouts and noticed one from a petrified forest and expressed our surprise that Mississippi had such a thing. Then, just a few miles north of Pocahontas, there was a sign pointing to it so off we went. The forest is privately owned with a well maintained trail and a small museum.

In looking at the map just now, I noticed something called Slobovia Outernational Airport about halfway between the tepee and the forest. We missed it which really makes me want to go back.

Steve Cheseborough's Blues Traveling turned us on to the town of Bentonia and the Blue Front jook joint. The place was closed but as we snapped pictures a fellow called out as he approached from the corner. The owner would be there in a couple of minutes, he said, but [a friend of] owner Jimmy Holmes pulled up almost before he got the words out. Jimmy's parents started the place back in 1948 and Jimmy keeps it going and sometimes plays guitar there. It seems as if there is no regular schedule but the Blue Front has music "whenever somebody feels like putting something together". He unlocked the door and invited us in to look around. A few others walked in for conversation or maybe the heat from the stove and a small friendly group soon formed. That's Jimmy Willie on the phone - taking care of business. I bet this place can really rock and I'd love to see it.

ADDENDUM: Feb 23, 2008 - This is embarassing. I knew that a fellow named Jimmy Holmes owned the Blue Front and we were told that "the owner's on the way". That's all it took for me to believe that the guy who showed up with the keys was Jimmy Holmes. It wasn't. That guy in the camofalge outfit is Willie. I know because Jimmy told me. The real Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, that is. Jimmy played tonight at the Traditional Acoustic Blues Fest put together by the Columbus Blues Alliance. He talked about the Blue Front during his performance and, afterwards, I asked who might have let us in last December. "Willie", he answered and later confirmed that it is Willie in the photo. My apologies for another wrong conclusion jumped to.

In Greenwood, there is a nice blues museum which happens to be run by a Hudson owner who Alex has had some correspondence with in the past. Alex founded the New England chapter of the Hudson Club and edited the chapter newsletter for several years. He knows Hudsons. When I mentioned in an online group that I would be picking up someone for part of this trip, I didn't give his name but identified him just about as clearly by saying he would be able to date any rusting Terraplane we saw. We haven't found a whole car yet but the museum does have a collection of hubcaps. The one with a red center is a 1938. The other's a 1933. Trust, I mean, trust Alex.

The murals are in Tutwiler where W. C. Handy heard the tune that he tweaked into Yellowdog Blues.

We took Hopson Road (Old US-49) out of Tutwiler but it was soon cut off. We picked it up again near Dublin and this time made it almost to the Hopson Plantation near Clarksdale. That's where the Shack Up Inn, our home for the night is located. Pictures tomorrow.

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