Breaking Down the Markers on the Blues Trail - Visit Vicksburg
Check out some outdoor opportunities in Vicksburg below!


Breaking Down the Markers on the Blues Trail

Red-Tops-Blues-Trail-MarkerThe South is the birthplace of the blues, and Mississippi played a large role in the genre’s development. To honor this rich musical heritage, The Mississippi Blues Foundation created the Mississippi Blues Trail with a series of markers that commemorate significant people, places and more. Home to six Blues Trail markers, Vicksburg is a must-visit destination for anyone with a passion for the soulful sounds of the blues. Here, Visit Vicksburg breaks down the city’s markers to infuse your next trip with a touch of musical history.

The Blue Room

Vicksburg was home to one of the hottest blues clubs in the South during the 1940s and 1950s with The Blues Room attracting top stars to grace its stage. Opened by promoter Tom Wince in 1937, The Blues Room grew from a one-room bar into a multipurpose complex that included a ballroom, restaurant, casino and guest rooms. It played host to such artists as B.B. King, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong and Dinah Washington over the years in the upstairs ballroom, which was named the Skyline.

Highway 61

You may recognize this road from Bob Dylan’s famous 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited, but its history in music goes back much farther than that. Its original route was mapped in the 1920s and stretched from New Orleans all the way to Grand Portage, Minnesota on the Canadian border. This highway connected cities such as St. Louis, Memphis and of course Vicksburg. Many blues artists, like the Red Tops, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters, lived in communities that ran along the highway, which inspired several singers to dedicate songs to the familiar road.

Marcus Bottom

As the most populous city in Mississippi in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Vicksburg contained the state’s largest community of African Americans. This led the community of Marcus Bottom to become a key area for the development of blues, jazz and gospel music in the first half of the 20th century. The area includes spots such as the South Side Park Dance Hall, the Playboy Club, Big Will’s, the Red Dot Inn and others where local and visiting musicians such as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver and Earl “Fatha” Hines developed their sound.

The Red Tops

For two decades following World War II, the Red Tops were one of the most popular bands in the state of Mississippi. Originally formed as the Rebops, who entertained dancers throughout World War II, manager and drummer Walter Osborne reshaped the group into the Red Tops after the war. This new group created a blend of blues, jazz and pop that appealed to a broad audience and allowed them to play anywhere from country clubs to The Blue Room in Vicksburg.

Willie Dixon

Vicksburg is the birthplace of Willie Dixon, one of the most influential blues artists and songwriters. Though he moved to Chicago as a young man in his 20s, Dixon often attributed the content of his songs to stories or poems he heard as a child in Mississippi. In Chicago, Dixon worked in production at Chess Records, developing the sound of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter and several more. This success led to Dixon’s induction into both the Rock and Roll and Blues Halls of Fame.

Bill Ferris

Vicksburg native Dr. William “Bill” Ferris is a professor of history at UNC-Chapel Hill and an adjunct professor in the Curriculum in Folklore. He won two Grammy awards for “Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris” for Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes. Dr. Ferris has directed 15 documentary films and written and edited 10 books, mostly on the topics of African-American music and the folklore of the Mississippi Delta.

The Blues and Beyond

Today the blues are just as popular as ever, gaining new listeners every year. Whether you’re a long-time fan or discovering the blues for the first time, a visit to Vicksburg is a great way to explore the roots of the genre. The Mississippi Blues Trail app is a great way to find out more about the Blues Trail and plan your trip. To learn more about all the history and culture you’ll find in Vicksburg, contact Visit Vicksburg today and request a free visitors guide. In it you’ll find everything you need to know about events, dining, shopping and more to plan a trip to remember.

Read Our Blog

Read about upcoming events, pieces of Vicksburg history and insider tips on our blog.

Free Guide

Request a free Vicksburg Visitors Guide by clicking here.


Sign up to receive free Vicksburg information on the latest upcoming events and deals through the Vicksburg CVB's monthly e-newsletter!

Scroll to Top