The Group Travel Leader

FEB 2017

The online home of The Group Travel Leader, America's leading publication for the group travel industry. Articles on hot destinations, attractions, news and travel trends from across the country and around the world.

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GROUP TRAVEL LE ADER T H E G AT E WAY TO T H E B LU E S M US EU M & VI S ITO RS C E N T E R Tunica Guests can start by exploring the definition of blues music and end by producing their own blues song at the Gateway to the Blues Museum. Located in an 1895 train depot, the museum and visitors center welcome groups to one of the first major stops along the Blues Highway in Mississippi. The 3,500-square-foot museum explores the musical heritage of the Mississippi Delta, especially Tunica's contribution. Groups follow a series of interactive exhibits that begin with an introduction to the blues genre. Artifacts such as W.C. Handy's first cornet, George Hunt paintings of the Delta and over 20 guitars used by famous musicians bring the area's blues legends to life. The museum invites hands-on learning with an exhibit on how to play a lap steel guitar and songwriting lessons from local blues artist. Each guest can record his or her own blues song with an opportunity to take their musical creation home with them. Afterward, visitors stop by the gift shop for authentic Delta specialty items, such as Delta Blues Pecan Oil made in Tutwiler, Mississippi. W W W.T U N I C A T R A V E L . C O M D E LTA B L U E S M U S E U M Clarksdale Groups can stand face-to-face with the sharply dressed figure of Muddy Waters at the Delta Blues Museum. Located at the "crossroads" of highways 61 and 49, the museum focuses on the artists raised in and around Clarksdale, such as Waters, John Lee Hooker and Handy. Clarksdale became an economic boomtown because of its important transportation location, which is why many entertainment joints opened in the town, allowing the local talent to attract a wider audience. Many contemporary blues venues still sit within walking distance of the museum, including the adjacent Ground Zero Blues Club, owned by Morgan Freeman. After its start as one room of exhibits in an elementary school, the museum moved to a 1926 train depot in 1999. In 2012, the museum expanded to add a Muddy Waters wing where a life-size wax figure of the singer stands next to the reconstructed shack on Stovall Plantation in which he grew up. Inside the sharecropper cabin, videos illuminate Waters' life, and there are artifacts such as ZZ Top's Muddywood guitar, which was crafted from one of the cabin's timbers. Either separately or in a guided tour, groups can explore exhibits on legendary blues singers. The museum also offers educational programs teaching how to play various musical instruments. W W W. D E LT A B L U E S M U S E U M .O R G G R A M M Y M U S E U M M I S S I S S I P P I Cleveland A small town in the Mississippi Delta seems an unlikely spot to highlight the over-the-top glam- our of the Grammys. However, officials chose Cleveland, Mississippi, as the sister location to Los Angeles' Grammy Museum because of the region's rich musical heritage. Instead of focusing only on the humble begin- nings of blues musicians, the Grammy Museum Mississippi showcases the glitzy side of the music industry. One exhibit uses clothing worn on pre- vious Grammy red carpets to illustrate the award show's dazzling effect. The museum, opened in 2016, uses touch screens and other interactive exhibits to reveal a behind-the-scenes peek into the Grammy awards ceremony and artists it has honored over the years. Videos of past Grammy telecasts, song-producing pods and an audiovisual scrolling guide to past recipients keep visitors engaged. At one exhibit, guests can bust out their best moves on an interactive dance floor that teaches dance styles popular throughout the ceremony's history. The museum also features a Mississippi section to explore the numerous Grammy winners born in the state. Groups can choose from several curated tours for insider information on the exhibits and acquisi- tion of various artifacts. The museum also offers a series of programs throughout the year that spot- light various musicians, with intimate performances and discussions. W W W.G R A M M Y M U S E U M M S .O R G GATEWAY TO THE BLUES MUSEUM AND VISITORS CENTER DELTA BLUES MUSEUM Courtesy MS Tourism B.B. KING MUSEUM Courtesy Tunica CVB Courtesy MS Tourism GRAMMY MUSEUM MISSISSIPPI By Rory Doyle, courtesy Grammy Museum MS

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