photo from Junior Kimbrough's Juke Joint by Gregg Cooke
Juke Joint by Birney Imes
What is a juke joint anyway?
I'll tell ya what it isn't. It is not a place in Oregon or Calgary or Denver or Massachusetts. The late Junior Kimbrough had arguably the most famous juke in the world at one point. Hell, iggy stopped by. So did some 'stones. U2. And me and my wife. You drive down a two lane black top thru a steaming moonless Mississippi country night surrounded by cotton fields. Roll down the windows and hear thru the wind the bass thump. Crest the hill and come upon a a big ol' flat shack house in the middle of somewhere all lit up and surrounded by cars and folks milling about. Ya go inside and walk past the pool table and around the dancers grinding out that fatass hill country groove and there is R.L. Burnside sittin' and layin' it down with some young Kimbroughs and Burnsides. Over in the corner they got a window where you can buy a sandwich or a beer. The walls are painted with folk art renderings of Oprah and more surrounded by gold glitter frames and Christmas lights. It's loud and maybe you feel a little out of place til R.L. asks your wife to dance while you watch Kinny Kimbrough play the drums and you can't imagine a better place in the world to be.
"Juke joint (or jook joint) is the vernacular term for an informal establishment featuring music, dancing, gambling, and drinking, primarily operated by African American people in the southeastern United States. The term "juke" is believed to derive from the Gullah word joog, meaning rowdy or disorderly.
Junior's Juke Joint is my second favorite blues site. Jammed with great info on juke joints and honky tonks + pictures, maps to grave sites etc, and even recipes. If you are planning to visit the south in search of the blues check here first. If you never plan to visit but want a taste of the flavor check here, too. While yr there please buy some stuff from Junior or click on his banners. He needs the dough to keep the Bluesmobile runnin'. Check his documentary JUKE! featuring T-Model Ford and pre-FP Johnny Farmer aka Farmer John and his son. This video even at only a 1/2 hr is a must have.
THE HiSTORY OF AMERiCAN JUKE JOiNTS
NATiONAL GEOGRAPHiC ViSiTS
JUNiOR KiMBROUGH'S JUKE
Photo essay by William Albert Allard
Leslie and I were there that night but ol'Bill Allard forgot to put us on the cover!
JUKiN iN MiSSiSSiPPi
Article and listing of Mississippi jukes as of 1996
Juke Joint Festival
Teddy's Juke Joint in Zachary, Louisiana
Po' Monkeys near Marigold Mississippi
Juke Joint Photo from The Library of Congress
Jimmy Duck Holmes' Blue Front Cafe