Crazy Hearts In Clarksdale

21/08/2023 Wesley Dean
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Next destination was Greenville, Mississippi where we crashed a photography exhibition, and I played with a local musician there… We also met the mayor of Greenville, Mr. Errick D. Simmons. He was a charismatic and fun guy.

We left for Clarksdale as I had another appearance at the Ground Zero Blues Club. I got up with the house band and jammed on a few songs. The air was really thick there, they were spraying what is known as the “Delta Crud,” a mysterious illness that comes from the local farmers harvesting their crops. That plus the smoke coming down from the Canadian fires affected my vocal cords, and I was finding it challenging to sing through the heavy atmosphere.

We had nowhere to plug in the RV in Clarksdale, so we called a guy in the middle of the night and a place called the Shack Up Inn. He was gracious enough to get up at around midnight and help us try and plug the RV into electricity, but that didn’t work out, so we stayed in little cabins made of tin on the side of the highway. It rained that night, so we all fell asleep to the sound of rain on the tin roof.

The schedule was intense, I had a lot to do and a lot to cover and I promised myself I’d do it all.. We were doing photo shoots, booking shows in real time, and getting to know the RV and the rhythm of the road plus all the variables of having young kids and the unsettling nature of moving at a very fast pace in order to get across the country in time to achieve everything we needed.

Our videographer Mason joined us… we had just met but it seemed like we were family quickly. There was no time other than to dig our heels in and embrace all the uncertainties and the start of this grand adventure that we were about to undertake.

The roads were long out there. It’s a wild country, very rural. It reminded me of the places that I grew up around in Adelaide, Australia. Lots of rusty, old, farmyard machinery. It was the perfect backdrop for one of my songs called “Blood Brothers.” Clarksdale is a vast landscape and a long highway that stretches far and wide. There were more trucks than cars. It was only the beginning…

We went to the crossroads to pay homage to the story of Robert Johnson and the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. It was just an intersection like any other intersection that you see in any other country town, but I wasn’t surprised.

We went out for dinner with the kids and the whole crew at a place called Levons. I’m not sure how we got onto this subject, but we were talking about live music in Sydney and how I was the first musician to ever play at The Vanguard, which is now an iconic, live music venue. At the same time the waiter who was serving us, noticed we were Australian and said that his wife was Australian and I told him that we were travelling through America and that I was a musician. He said his wife owned a live music venue in Sydney called The Vanguard. I couldn’t believe it, we were just talking about it. I said I was the first musician to play there, and as I stood up, I noticed his wife behind the bar so I went to re-introduce myself… she could not believe her eyes.

She said that she was trying to get in contact with me only a few months ago because they just had their 20th anniversary, this was the start of so many amazing synchronicities that became a frequent occurrence on our Crazy Hearts Tour.

Wesley Dean