This is a non-profit organization. In fact, it's a money losing, hole in the wall, one man, one vehicle
organization. Created on July 27, 1997. Modified on August 27, 2006.
| I'm a cultural anthropologist who lives in the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana side, and I spend lots of time in Delta juke joints. You're about to take a trip inside the places where the blues began. I'm not talking about white people blues bars filled with college students. I'm talking about edge-of-a-cotton-field juke joints filled with real Delta folks.|
Here in Junior's Juke Joint you'll find pictures of, stories about, and even maps to Delta places the local chambers of commerce never heard of. (Heck, let's face facts: if the chambers knew about those places they'd want to shut them down.) The good folks at www.mapquest.com provided the maps. Click on the mapquest link for maps with a larger scale.
Here's why I selected these juke joints from the thousands of juke joints in the Delta:
Without exception, the owners and customers of those places welcomed this redneck white boy.
Hey, Junior! What's the difference between a juke joint and a honky tonk?
I'm glad you asked. Here's the main differences:
Honky tonk white folks wear nice clothes on Friday and Saturday nights, but juke joint black folks wear their Sunday best. The women wear amazingly colorful outfits, and gold and silver jewelry sparkles everywhere.
Few honky tonks have a kitchen; although 20 years or so ago most of them did. Today, almost every juke joint has a kitchen. Honky tonk customers have cars. They can stop at a late night fast food place on the way home. Many juke joint customers do not own cars and got there on their own two feet. To them, the juke joint is their late night fast food place. Often, it is also their daytime source of fast food.
In several years of visiting Delta juke joints, I've never witnessed a fight in any of them. As a comparison, in the same period of visiting honky tonks of my own culture, redneck, I've witnessed many fist fights--male/male, male/female, female/female--a knife fight and an actual old west style shootout. Click here to read about the shootout.
In my opinion, a white person is much safer inside a juke joint than a honky tonk. But the opposite is far from true. If I were black, I wouldn't step inside a honky tonk on a Saturday night for $1,000,000.
Hey, Junior! Compare the jukeboxes.
When it's getting close to closing time and the hormones start flowing, you'll see the redneck couples dancing down and dirty to another song on that Clarence Carter CD: "Love Me With a Feeling."
Imagine walking inside an edge-of-a-cotton field juke joint and there sits a CD jukebox. Imagine the music it contains. Makes me want to pitch my tent out back and stay a week or two.
Did you say you're thinking about taking a trip through the Delta and you don't want to eat where the folks at the chamber of commerce eat? Well, stay tuned to Junior's Juke Joint. I'll tell you about places to eat where the peas started the day on the vine and the pie started the day as peaches.
Here's some of those places:
Heck, let's go there now!
The idea for the story about Sallie Martin came from a grand Delta lady named Nellie Jackson. Until her untimely death a few years ago, Nellie ran the best little whorehouse in Natchez, Mississippi. Nellie's was a Natchez institution. In addition to her normal, ah, "items," of trade, she sold T-shirts. They had little footprints tracing a path across the front and letters that read: FOLLOW ME TO NELLIE'S.
If you couldn't find your way to Nellie's, all you had to do was ask anybody in Natchez for directions, including policemen. One time a friend of mine couldn't understand a policeman's directions, so the policeman said, "Hell, just follow me. I'll take you there."
Ain't the Delta a wonderful place?
I used to go by Nellie's not on "business" but just to visit with Nellie and her girls. I remember sitting at Nellie's dining table and having lunch with her and her girls. The meal was pork chops, turnip greens and cornbread, washed down with either buttermilk or sweet tea. After lunch, Nellie emerged from the kitchen with a blazing cake. It was the birthday of one of the girls.
Nellie's house still stands, although damaged by the fire that killed Nellie. It looks like a normal white frame house with a paved back yard. Check it out.
Junior in the Movies!
We took the cameras inside some Delta juke joints and also filmed the action on and around the Jukehouse Stage at the 19th Annual Delta Blues Festival. We named it JUKE. It's wild. Click the link and check it out.
You can buy a copy online for $24.95. The only complaint we've had so far is that it's not 8 hours long.
Real Blues magazine named it The Blues Video of 1997.
That's a picture of T-Model Ford on the cover of JUKE.
Regular visitors to the Delta might recognize the house behind T-Model. It's located on the west side of Highway 61 a few miles north of Hollandale, Mississippi.
I love old T-Model. We took the picture of him inside the G.G. Lounge, a juke joint in Winterville, Mississippi. You can't see it in the picture, but down on the juke joint floor beside his left foot, there's a 1/2 pint gin bottle filled with Greenville, Mississippi, Hollow Stump brand moonshine whiskey.
Want to learn how to write? Click here.
Think you know roots music? Click here for a blues quiz and some blues crossword puzzles!
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Copyright 1997 by John L. Doughty, Jr.