The Blues Trail - 2015

In August 2015 my wife Gill humoured me by agreeing to accompany me to the ‘Crossroads’.  It begs an explanation for those not familiar with blues music history.  My story starts near the end of our blues trail drive across 1500 miles of the southern USA.

Clarksdale to Rosedale

On a night in 1969 I had a Damascus road moment when a film of the band ‘Cream’ playing their final concert in the Royal Albert Hall on 26 November 1968 came to the Odeon cinema in Wolverhampton.  Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker immortalised a song by Robert Johnson – ‘Cross Roads Blues’ – shortened by Cream to ‘Crossroads’.   The life of Robert fascinated many blues artists.  Bill Wyman – the ex-Rolling Stones bassist – examined the life and death of Robert Johnson in his book ‘Bill Wyman’s Blues Odyssey’.  Eric Clapton changed the song considerably to suit the attack Cream would bestow upon it.  He even added a verse about Rosedale, Mississippi one of the places supposedly home to one of the many mythical locations of the ‘Cross Roads’.

It was there Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil – a price paid for becoming a brilliant guitar player.  All this occurred in the 1930’s before Robert died at the age of 30 on 16th August 1938.  As well as Rosedale, one the ‘crossroads’ sites Gill and I visited was the tourist attraction in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where the much later built highways 49 and 61 intersect in the town recognised as the home of the blues.  This is actually about half a mile from the road junction Robert would have known in the 1930’s.

The cross roads at Rosedale is a fifty minute drive from Clarksdale.  We didn’t go to Rosedale to allow the devil to tune my guitar as legend suggests he would, but merely to stand and be where the blues began.  I stood at the ‘Cross Roads’ for a while, we then parked by the plaque noting the legendary status of Rosedale’s crossroads, before driving back to Clarksdale to experience one of the greatest moments of my life as a blues player.  I was invited to take to the stage and jam at the home of the delta blues – Ground Zero Blues Club.  Here one the ‘Hall of Fame’ blues men, Josh ‘Razorblade’ Stewart joined me on stage and sang with me a blues we made up on the spot. 

A honour indeed…..

My two drawings are recent creations using coloured pencils. The guitar sign post is the marker for the intersection of state roads 61 and 49 in Clarksdale. The landscape sketch is from a phone picture I took at the alleged site of the 'Cross Roads' in Rosedale.

Click on the drawing you are interested in to view a larger image

For more detail on the 'Cross Roads' check out this link…

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