Cleveland, Thursday night: You, jukin’ at Po’ Monkey’s, a small joint with the weathered look of a sharecropper shack that nevertheless draws blues lovers from around the globe. Cleveland, on the following Saturday night: You, settled into your seat at Delta State University’s Bologna Performing Arts Center savoring a performance of the Moscow Ballet, or perhaps a touring Broadway show.
“…a city that melds a dual heritage of blues and books with world-class style.”
That’s how it is in a city that melds a dual heritage of blues and books with world-class style. And that’s been the case since the 1920s when students began arriving in Cleveland from all parts of Mississippi, some headed to the brand new Delta State Teachers College, others headed to the University of Charley Patton headquartered at Dockery Plantation. Patton, sometimes known as the “Father of Blues,” influenced a generation of bluesmen, from Howlin’ Wolf to Robert Johnson to Roebuck “Pop” Staples.
Over the years the Teachers College grew into the regionally respected Delta State University, and the Dockery Plantation, founded to grow cotton for export, accidentally exported something all together bigger, as blues begat more blues, so that today as students descend from all over the South to attend Delta State, blues lovers come from all over the world, to walk in the footsteps of blues greats at Dockery Plantation or the Mississippi Blues Trail, and or just to enjoy a night at Po’ Monkey’s, one of America’s last great honest-to-goodness rural juke joints.
The Cross-tie Downtown District is another example of Cleveland’s winning balance, with its quaint brick sidewalks and Victorian lighting inviting visitors to up-to-the-moment boutiques, specialty shops and antique emporiums. In a city renowned for performing arts, Cleveland’s fine arts and crafts are also coming on with panache. The pottery studios here have sold their wares to galleries around the world.
And there’s much more to enjoy here, in the city named one of the “100 best small towns in America,” like heritage museums and civil rights history, great dining and the great outdoors served up in refreshing ways. In fact, you can count mark your calendar now—whether it’s Thursday, Saturday or any other day or night, Cleveland will show you a great time six ways to Sunday.