Elizabeth Behm, executive director of the Ripley Main Street Association, stands at the entrance of Blues Alley in the city's downtown section. The alley's official opening will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday with a ribbon cutting, followed by a concert.

RIPLEY - In a renovated downtown alley, Ripley is paying tribute to the blues of Mississippi's hill country.

The Tippah County city has created Blues Alley - complete with guitar-shaped benches, paintings of Hill Country blues artists and an opportunity to enjoy music.

"We're making it a destination for people to hang out," said Elizabeth Behm, director of the Ripley Main Street Association. "We wanted to make the alley look nicer. So, we said, 'Let's do some blues'."

The official opening of Ripley's Blues Alley will take place at 5 p.m. with a ribbon cutting. The alley is located on Walnut Street behind Stella's Boutique.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, there will be a blues block party with live entertainment by local musicians Garry Burnside, Andrea Staten and Tatum Shappley.

Work on the alley began last year. Attached to a wall are murals painted by Sam Ingram of Jackson of six Hill Country blues artists. Featured are R.L Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Jessie Mae Hemphill, T-Model Ford, Othar Turner and Mississippi Fred McDowell.

"Even though none of them were born here, it's still the same region," Behm said.

Behm said Ripley has a growing music scene that includes a recording studio, Sun Bear Studios, located inside the city's radio station office on the square.

"A lot of people are coming to record music," she said. "And, we're going to start a summer concert series at the end of May. It will be a night market with vendors and music."

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