Thinking out of the Box

On page 30 in this edition, you’ll find our cover story on Roger Stolle, owner of the blues retail shop in Clarksdale, Cat Head. Roger is also the co-founder of the popular Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale.

A question often asked, “Is blues music making a difference in the Delta?”  Absolutely and Clarksdale is a perfect example of how blues music and blues culture can help build the Delta.

When Roger arrived in Clarksdale in 2002, the downtown area was about to breathe its last breath. The town had a history of the blues, but seeing a live blues act was hit or miss during that time. Clarksdale had the nuts and bolts of a blues scene, but their “product” needed some consistency for their “brand” to be developed and promoted worldwide. So, Roger and several others put a plan together.  Their first goal was making sure live blues music was offered every night of the week and their next goal was the creation of several festivals. These were the first steps to increase tourism numbers.

Fast forward to 2019 and Clarksdale is now regarded as Bluestown U.S.A. And people come in droves. In fact, several who were once regular visitors have become fulltime residents and in doing so they have brought their own “out of the box” ideas which have added even more to the town.  Today, retail stores, restaurants, live music venues, and boutique hotels can be found in downtown Clarksdale.  Most recently, Ground Zero Blues Club was ranked as one of the top three best Live Music Clubs in the world by Celebrated Living Magazine and the town was recently named the Number 1 music city outside of Nashville by Foder’s Travel.

So, the question, “Is blues music making a difference in the Delta’s economy?” Look no further than Clarksdale for that answer.

In closing, we also feature an update on Dinesh and Suresh Chawla’s hotel development in Cleveland. For the past two years, they have been in partnership with the Trumps to develop hotels in the region. However, both parties have decided to end the partnership and the Chawlas will move forward with building the hotel on their own.  We spoke with Donald Trump, Jr. and in our story on page 26, you’ll learn why the partnership ended.  Don, Jr. was extremely nice and he repeatedly emphasized how much he valued his friendship with Dinesh and Suresh.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the Delta Business Journal.