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Jackson’s Mississippi Music Experience Museum Brings Past to Life

Museum_1
Photo courtesy Larry B. Gordon

Evelyn Scott drove 1,000 miles just to see it.

“We love Mississippi Blues music and always have — my husband’s favorite artist has always been Robert Johnson. We made a trip to the actual Crossroads on the way there,” said the Ontario, Canada, resident. Accompanied her husband for a blues-drenched weekend, Scott met up with friends from Hayes, Kansas, for the music, the food – and now the history that has become part of Jackson’s resurrected Iron Horse restaurant.

Scott also knows Anne Robin Luckett, the artist whose life-sized dolls of Mississippi musical legends are on display in the Mississippi Music Experience Museum, which opened January 10 on the second floor of the Iron Horse Grill.

“We were in Jackson two years ago when they were planning to re-open the restaurant,” Scott said. “We made plans right then to come back. We had a great time that night. It was packed, and we had catfish and watched (Allman Brothers drummer) Jaimoe perform, then we came back the next morning for the Sunday brunch and had the crawfish omelet.”

The displays and exhibits include the amusing story of how Elvis Presley went about obtaining an audience with former President Richard Nixon and the fascinating comments Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant made about Mississippi Delta blues legend Robert Johnson, the man immortalized as having sold his soul to the devil in return for a heaping portion of talent.

Jaimoe Johanson, one of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band, performs at the Iron Horse on opening night of the Mississippi Music Experience Museum. Photos by Michael Barrett
Jaimoe Johanson, one of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band, performs at the Iron Horse on opening night of the Mississippi Music Experience Museum.
Photos by Michael Barrett

“We toured the museum while waiting on dinner,” said Rose Anthony of Madison. “I really liked the waxed statues of the blues singers, like B.B. King. Everything was so lifelike – his eyes were closed, and you could see the emotion as he held his guitar. I love Elvis and loved listening to his music as we walked around. There’s a lot of history and music in Mississippi – blues, rock ‘n’ roll, a little country – and it’s neat to have it all under one roof.”

“My favorite display is the Rolling Stone list of top 10 guitarists of all time,” said Iron Horse managing partner Joseph Simpson. “Eight of the ten are from Mississippi or have said their biggest musical influence was the music that came from Mississippi. The whole purpose of the museum is to promote tourism in our state. We’ve let Nashville, Chicago and Memphis run with our music experience. It’s time for us to take it back.”

Guests stroll through the museum while waiting on dinner. Pictured are (top to bottom) Diane Singleton and Stan Arnold, and Rose and Alex Anthony, all of Jackson, and Sean and Carolyn Ellison of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who ran the Blues Marathon earlier in the day and stayed for opening night of the museum. Photos by Michael Barrett
Guests stroll through the museum while waiting on dinner. Pictured are (top to bottom) Diane Singleton and Stan Arnold, and Rose and Alex Anthony, all of Jackson, and Sean and Carolyn Ellison of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who ran the Blues Marathon earlier in the day and stayed for opening night of the museum.
Photos by Michael Barrett

“We do a lot of private dining that includes a free tour of our museum. It’s something you can’t get anywhere else,” said general manager Andy Nesenson. “The museum sells the restaurant, and our state’s musical legacy sells Mississippi. It’s part of the creative economy.”

The dining experience boasts a distinct Mississippi flair.

“The whole thing is very well done,” Scott said. “There were modern performers I didn’t know were from Mississippi, such as Britney Spears, as well as the historical figures. I loved the video clips of Mick Jagger and Muddy Waters. It was a great excuse to come to Mississippi. When Anne Robin finishes the final four figures she’s contributing, we’ll come back again.”

Want to go?

The Iron Horse Grill is located at 320 East Pearl in Jackson. Hours are Mondays through Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to midnight; and Sundays 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. To check out their menu or musical line-ups, visit www.theironhorsegrill.com.

Courtesy of Legends magazine, story by Joe Lee, photography by Michael Barrett

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