You can start your New Year’s resolutions after you party down in Natchez. (We won’t tell anybody!)
There are quite a few venues with live music this year and did we mention FIREWORKS on the bluff?!?! The Castle Restaurant at Dunleith will be open beginning at 7 p.m. and will have champagne and party favors. Restaurant 1818 at Monmouth will have a special New Year’s Eve menu, if you are up for some delicious food (6:30 p.m.) and the Quitman Lounge will also be open. (5:30 p.m.) Rolling River Bistro will also have a special NYE menu. Other restaurants that will be open on NYE are Biscuits and Blues, Cajun Cooking, The Carriage House, Cotton Alley, Fat Mama’s Tamales and Natchez Coffee Company.
A lot has gone down in Natchez in the nearly 300 years of being founded. We’ve dug up some fun, interesting and off-the-wall facts about Natchez so without further ado…
Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, known as the “Black Swan” was America’s first African American singer of classical music. She was born in Natchez in 1809.
Emerald Mound is the second largest Indian ceremonial mound in the U. S. and is located northeast of Natchez.
Longwood is the largest remaining octagonal house in the United States.
Historic Jefferson College (circa 1802) was the first preparatory school established in the Mississippi Territory. Jefferson College also appeared in the movie based on John Jakes’ novel, North and South, to resemble West Point National Military Academy.
You can get three different National Park Service Stamps for your NPS Passport book in Natchez.
There are over 80 geocaches within a 15 mile radius of Natchez. It is a way to see Natchez from a different perspective and great activity for kids.
Memorial Park was once the final resting place for many in Natchez, until the City Cemetery was established in 1822. The remains from the old burial ground, located behind St. Mary Basilica, were gradually moved to the present site located just north of downtown. Today the park is a serene and shaded hideaway, popular with both locals and visitors.
The Briars is renowned historically as the residence where Jefferson Davis married Varina Howell in 1845.
Natchez had more millionaires per capita before the Civil War than any other city in the United States.
Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church is the oldest African American baptist congregation in the state with origins dating back to 1837.
Texada is the first brick house in the Mississippi Territory and the oldest Capitol building in the State of Mississippi.
Natchez is the Bed and Breakfast Capital of the South.
What’s better than kicking off Christmas a little early than with a Gumbo Cook Off, Lighting of the Tree, a laser light show & REAL SNOW in downtown Natchez?! We haven’t figured it out either!
On Friday, November 28th, we will officially begin Christmas in Natchez. The event will start off with the Annual Gumbo Cook Off at 4:00 p.m. Tasting kits will be $10. There will also be Christmas music playing throughout the streets. If you’re traveling with the kiddos, don’t worry, we have not forgotten about them. There will be plenty of activities to do before the lighting, such as, bungee jumps, face painting, rock wall climbing and a train ride.
This year, we will have REAL SNOW for 45 minutes and a laser light show right before the lighting of the tree. You can even chime in with Christmas caroling around the tree!
The Annual Black & Blue Civil War Reenactment will take place on Saturday, October 25th. The 3rd U.S. Colored Calvary reenactment will be held at Historic Jefferson College. The program will start at 11:00 a.m. and last throughout the day. The Calvary will also parade on horseback from the Forks of the Road to the Bluff at 1:30 p.m. They took rebel prisoners to jail and helped the Union soldiers in a big way. Many of the troops were runaways who had joined the Union forces.
Every Saturday, Rolling River Bistro and 408 Listening Room will have a Saturday Gospel Brunch from 10:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. Listen to the beautiful sounds of some local talent. They also have live music on the weekends at night.
Southern Opera & Musical Theater’s production of “The Merry Widow” will be held at Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for adults are $20 and $10 for students.
When thinking of Natchez, music may be the last thing that comes to mind. Natchez is actually a part of the Americana Music Triangle, the birthplace of American music. From the tribal music of the Natchez Indians to the slave musicians who entertained at formal and informal gatherings to the burning of the Rhythm Night Club, Natchez’s music history runs as deep as the Mighty Mississippi.
Natchez was once home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere in the United States until the outbreak of the Civil War. After sharecropping became popular in the Mississippi Delta, many African Americans moved to find work at the same time blues music was taking off. Although very few commercial recordings document the sounds of blues in Natchez prior to WWII, we were still home to Geeshie Wiley, Bud Scott and band, guitarist William “Cat-Iron” Carradine, and saxophonists Earl Reed and Otis Smith.
The most memorialized musical event in Natchez happened on April 23, 1940. Walter Barnesof Chicago and his band made their way to Natchez to perform for over 200 African Americans at the Rhythm Night Club. While performing, a fire broke out. Walter Barnes, his band and some 200 people perished in the fire. The tragedy struck the nation and received extensive press, being picked up by several famous blues musicians who later wrote songs about the fire. The most notable of those is Howlin’ Wolf’s, The Natchez Burning.
New talents began to emerge in Natchez clubs and cafes. The most notable was Alexander “Papa George” Lightfoot. Lightfoot was known for playing a mean harmonica and recorded for several important record labels, such as Aladdin, Imperial and Savoy. Alexander “Papa George” Lightfoot is now commemorated with his own Mississippi Blues Trail Marker in Natchez.
Besides all of the places in Natchez where musicians performed, the most important live venue for blues stood in Ferriday, LA, just ten miles west of Natchez. Haney’s Big House was operated by African American entrepreneur, Will Haney. The stage had been graced by legendary blues artists, such as B.B. King, Ray Charles, Roy Brown, Johnnie Taylor and Joe Turner. Haney’s was also an opportunity for local talent like Y.Z. Ealey, Elmore Williams, and Hezekiah Early to perform. You would some times see Jerry Lee Lewis or Jimmy Anderson wandering about the crowd. In 1966, however, the club mysteriously burned to the ground along with other African American owned businesses near by. You can hear an interview of Hezekiah Early from American Routeshere.