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Travel Diary: Clarksdale Mississippi Blues Picks

WHO: Mississippi native Cassandra Wilson. new project: Her album Belly of the Sun—a seductive blend of blues and bossa nova—recorded in a converted Clarksdale, Mississippi, train station. HOMECOMING: "Clarksdale was perfect because it's the birthplace of the blues. Using local musicians affected the album. The way they move, the way they talk: it rubs off on you. We Mississippians pride ourselves on being able to make anybody feel at home." BLAST FROM THE PAST: "Downtown Clarksdale looks like you're walking into the 1950's." BOXCAR BLUES: "On our last day, a wedding party had reserved the station, so we just pulled our equipment into a boxcar out back and recorded there." DELTA FORCE: "There's a verse on the album that says: 'It's alright/You can stay asleep/You can close your eyes/You can trust the people of paradise.' It's about Rio, but for me it's also about the comfort and ease I feel in the South."

CASSANDRA'S CLARKSDALE HIT LIST
Blues Station Blues Alley; 662/627-7020. "An old-fashioned juke joint. The chicken wings were just awful, they were so good."
Turner's Grill 330 Issaquena Ave.; 662/627-2884. "The storefront looks like a run-down pawnshop, but it has the best macaroni and cheese."
Dollar General 808 S. State St.; 662/627-9342. "I kept going back for five-dollar gingham blouses!"

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