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I'm Feeling the Blues Right Now - Blues Tourism and the Mississippi Delta

I'm Feeling the Blues Right Now

Blues Tourism and the Mississippi Delta

By Stephen A. King
Series: American Made Music Series

Paperback : 9781617038266, 256 pages, February 2013
Hardcover : 9781617030109, 256 pages, June 2011

A critical look at the controversial strategies officials and promoters wield to “sell” the blues


In I’m Feeling the Blues Right Now: Blues Tourism and the Mississippi Delta, Stephen A. King reveals the strategies used by blues promoters and organizers in Mississippi, both African American and white, local and state, to attract the attention of tourists. In the process, he reveals how promotional materials portray the Delta’s blues culture and its musicians. Those involved in selling the blues in Mississippi work to promote the music while often conveniently forgetting the state’s historical record of racial and economic injustice. King’s research includes numerous interviews with blues musicians and promoters, chambers of commerce, local and regional tourism entities, and members of the Mississippi Blues Commission.

This book is the first critical account of Mississippi’s blues tourism industry. From the late 1970s until 2000, Mississippi’s blues tourism industry was fragmented, decentralized, and localized, as each community competed for tourist dollars. By 2003–2004, with the creation of the Mississippi Blues Commission, the promotion of the blues became more centralized as state government played an increasing role in promoting Mississippi’s blues heritage. Blues tourism has the potential to generate new revenue in one of the poorest states in the country, repair the state’s public image, and serve as a vehicle for racial reconciliation.


"[This book] should be read by anyone with a love of music and music history. Blues fans should stick on a Robert Johnson album, pour themselves a large JD and ice, sit down with this thought-provoking little gem, and make their own mind up. There have always been three Kings when it comes to the blues: Albert, Freddie, and BB. Now there are four."

- Blues & Soul

"King does an excellent job in deconstructing the blues message, which deflects inquiry into just how poorly the now-venerated “classic” [and mostly deceased] blues musicians were treated in their lifetimes, being poorly paid and kept in perpetual debt by the sharecropper system, denied healthcare, and frequently buried in unmarked graves. Blues fans believing they know blues history will be surprised by the fabrications and half-truths associated with the genre, as uncovered by semiotic analysis of the many code words, metaphors, similes, and folktales that have become part of blues tourism culture."

- New York Journal of Books

"His chapters on the history of blues and the history of blues tourism in the Mississippi Delta are grounded in solid scholarship. Paradoxes and ambiguities inherent in the blues are especially evident within this history. . . . King’s book is a good one. His writing conveys the deep understanding of a talented writer and scholar, who clearly understands the blues and appreciates its history in Mississippi."

- Gregory Hansen, Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies