I’m gonna climb aboard and ride until I learn to smile,

I’ll be knockin’ out the blues while I’m knockin’ out the miles.

With my guitar, beat and rhythm, to the click-clack of the wheels

I’m gonna sing the blues ’cause that’s the way that I feel.

Gonna ride a blue train, gonna ride a blue train.

Gonna ride a blue train, gonna ride a blue train.

-Billy Smith

You can’t juke properly without a designated driver, and for that, there’s the Arkansas Times Blues Bus.

For 13 years running, Europeans and savvy Southerners have been flocking to Clarksdale, Miss., for the annual Juke Joint Festival, a four-day blues bacchanal in one of the only cities in America to have hung onto its blues legacy despite the history of economic pressures that have plagued the surrounding Mississippi Delta. It’s the land of the proverbial “crossroads” where Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil, and home to legendary spots like Red’s Lounge, the Ground Zero Blues Club and the Shack Up Inn. And, because of Clarksdale’s size, you’re bound to be right in the middle of the scene no matter where you are.

This year, as we have for the last several, the Arkansas Times is shuttling revelers to Clarksdale for the festival’s culmination on Saturday, April 22, via our Arkansas Times Blues Bus, featuring an in-transit party with adult beverages, lunch at Dondie’s White River Princess in Des Arc and live music from Gil Franklin along the way. You’ll be able to enjoy shows from Leo Bud Welch, Anthony “Big A” Sherrod, Austin Walkin Cane, CeDell Davis & Brethren, Lightnin’ Malcolm, The Cedric Burnside Project, Lucious Spiller, Little Joe Ayers, Super Chikn & The Fighting Cocks, and dozens more. A flatbed train ride will ferry you out to the old Hopson Plantation, now home to the legendary Shack Up Inn (“The ritz we ain’t”) for even more blues, and you’ll have a safe ride back to Little Rock when all is said and done.

Single tickets are $125. Bring a friend and take advantage of a special deal: two tickets for $199. The bus departs at 9 a.m. from the parking lot where Ray Winder Field used to sit, and you can grab your tickets at our ticket site, Central Arkansas Tickets.