It is easy to be pulled in by the large murals and eye-catching displays as you first enter the museum, but be sure to not miss the Blues lyrics digital kiosk, which is your first stop in becoming a Blues legend. This first interactive display allows visitors to create their own Blues lyrics by following the standard AAB pattern while choosing from a selection of words and phrases. After composing your lyrics, you will be asked to create your band name and provide an e-mail address. As you tour the rest of the museum, be sure to visit the remaining stations, signing in at each one to add the harmonica, piano, and guitar pieces. At the final station, you will mix your song and the completed version will be e-mailed to the address you provided so you can enjoy or share, over and over again.
Another popular attraction for guests both young and old is the recording studio where visitors can take part in a traditional jug band. Visitors can watch a short clip to learn how to play traditional jug band instruments such as the spoons, the washboard, shaker or bones. After a quick lesson and rehearsal, all the band members come together and perform a song. Playing music is fun, so be sure to smile, because you’re on camera.
The museum also includes a space for traveling exhibits. Through June 1 visitors can experience H.C. Porter’s interactive portrait series, “Blues @ Home: Mississippi’s Living Blues Legends.” The exhibit includes 31 multi-media portraits, each accompanied by an oral history on the print’s subject.
Every other musical genre can trace its roots back to the Blues. Besides Blues artifacts and musicians, visitors will find artists and memorabilia from classic rock, country and hip hop showcased throughout the museum. No matter what your family’s musical tastes are, you’re likely to find something in the museum that will resonate with you.
The museum is a great destination for a quick visit downtown. Guests should expect to spend an hour and a half to two hours in the museum. A trip to the museum could also be a fun addition to your visit to other nearby favorites like the City Museum, City Garden or the Arch grounds. For those with tweens and teens, if you can’t get them excited about the prospect of becoming a music legend at the museum, the promise of lunch or dinner at Sugarfire next door or Pi Pizzeria across the street may do the trick.
A visit to the National Blues Museum is so much more than a lesson in music or history. Music has a way of jogging the memory; a song can transport you back to a specific place or time. While looking at a collection of album covers, one woman visiting with her son and granddaughter expressed that she played the album so much she wore it out. Another couple could be overheard reminiscing about the time they saw Chuck Berry perform live as they admired a display that included his red suit, artifacts, and a demo of Berry performing the duck walk on television.
Some of the biggest highlights of the museum are not just the cities and musicians the museum explores, but the stories guests will recall as they walk through the exhibits. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a fan of the Blues, something in this museum will strike a chord with almost any music lover. Music has a way of connecting us all, and a visit to the National Blues Museum creates a perfect opportunity for multiple generations to visit together and connect.
The National Blues Museum is located at 615 Washington Avenue. Parking is available at various sites nearby. The museum is open daily, Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and Sunday–Monday, noon–5 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 5-17, and $12 for seniors; admission is free for children under the age of 5 with a paid adult. For more information on the National Blues Museum, please visit their website at www.nationalbluesmusem.org.
Melissa Nordmann currently resides in St. Charles County. When she's not planning events for her local residents, she enjoys attending her sons' baseball games and hiking with her family in many of the area's fabulous parks.
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