CAT HEAD UPDATE NEWSLETTER
"Three months of blues & Clarksdale news!"
|File this issue of the CAT HEAD UPDATE under "better late than never." It's been a busy spring in the Delta.|
|Welcome to my "catch up" edition of the quasi-monthly CAT HEAD UPDATE e-newsletter.|
Currently, there is an excellent (for the first two-thirds, anyway) foreign film doing the art house circuit called "Everything Everywhere All At Once." The title is exactly how I felt from mid-March through the end of May this year. LOTS going on, LOTS of blues work to do, LOTS to be thankful for. We've been rockin' in Clarksdale, Mississippi, y'all.
Mid-March through Memorial Day weekend was a fun and busy time for visitors from all around the U.S. and, thankfully again, the world. (Thank you, Vaccines.) There have definitely been a few damp eyes and particularly big smiles from our usually "regular" visitors who had to take off two or three years from getting their Clarksdale fix. Example? Guenter and Gisela from Germany. They were so excited to return to Clarksdale for Juke Joint Festival in April that they stayed here not one night, not three nights, but two full weeks! And they had a blast. As did other blues travelers like Fernando from Brazil, who stayed a week. Among other things, he picked up his two years of CAT HEAD website purchases—saving me the shipping. He loves "here" so much that he even owns property, by the way.
And it's no wonder. Like I say, we've had a few things going on.
Just since my last February CAT HEAD UPDATE... Clarksdale's young blues star Kingfish won a Grammy... our biggest annual event Juke Joint Festival broke records... our Clarksdale Caravan Music Fest celebrated 15 years... Shared Experiences rocked its inaugural Women In Blues festival... Goat Fest slammed home Roman Numeral IX... and Ground Zero Blues Club celebrated with a two-day 21st anniversary party. Whew! Lots of other blues happenings as well, of course, including Clarksdale's commitment to 'live' blues 365 nights a year (plus many days).
Start planning your next blues pilgrimage to CLARKSDALE, MISSISSIPPI, at VisitCarksdale.com and https://www.cathead.biz/music-calendar. Plus, get a preview of all our fun at LiveFromClarksdale.org. And he, while you're here, maybe take a Delta tour with our buddy Billy at deltabohemiantours.com.
Can't get here yet? Bring here to you. Shop the fast and friendly CAT HEAD WEB STORE at www.cathead.biz for the latest logo tees, blues CDs/LPs/DVDs, Mississippi books, local artwork and more. Y'all are the fuel that's powered the Cat Head for 20 years now. Thanks for that.
Take care. Best, Roger (and the blues pug Ayler)
IMAGES BELOW: Shot of longtime media friend Woody Wilson talking with me on Delta News the week of JJF; see the 3-min interview at https://www.deltanews.tv/news/juke-joint-festival-interview/video_08fff2dc-c03d-11ec-b05a-03f6a43a64d0.html. Next year's billboard for JJF is up y'all. And finally, a photo of Ayler Pug giving her thoughtful review of modern Pop music.
|CAT HEAD in Clarksdale celebrates over 7,000 days (aka 20 years) of spreading the gospel of the blues!|
|Happy 20th anniversary to us, y'all!|
Two decades of CAT HEAD store in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Even I'm amazed. We survived the "first two years of business," the Great Recession, the supposed demise of the CD, the incredible resurgence of the LP, the global pandemic (so far), and had a helluva lot of fun along the way.
When I moved here in spring 2002 to help "organize and promote the blues from within" and contribute to our then-only-dreamed-of "tourism-based downtown revitalization," there were a handful of like-minded locals and famously more than a few naysayers. "Blues ain't gonna save our town," said one older gentleman at my first City Hall board meeting. "Why'd you move to Hell?," asked another older lady at a local business. Every few months, a retailer would seem to close; every few weeks someone would seem to "move to Oxford." Perhaps the most stunning moment back then came when a local mom brought her daughter to CAT HEAD to make fun of my "I [heart] Clarksdale" bumper stickers. Some folks had given up on their town—or perhaps themselves.
My tourism buddy (and Juke Joint Festival co-founder) Bubba O'Keefe and I still talk about how on weekdays back then, you could look up and down three blocks of Delta Avenue after 5pm and often not see a single parked car. Fortunately, the positive for me always far outweighed the negative, the glass was always half full, and eventually, those locals who didn't give up, and those who would ultimately move here, started to fill that glass back up—with the good stuff.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who makes Clarksdale such an endlessly fascinating place to live and work. And thanks to all y'all who have supported CAT HEAD through the years. They say "it takes a village."
Here's to the next 20 years, y'all...
|In April, JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL returned to Clarksdale with over 100 blues acts, monkeys riding dogs and everything else you dream about.....|
Holy hot tamale! Wow. What a festival week it was.
This year's 19th annual JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL in Clarksdale, Mississippi, was a return to pre-pandemic levels of music and tourism. Attendees from at least 47 U.S. states, 16 foreign countries and 44 Mississippi counties enjoyed at least 150 blues performances between the Thursday and the Sunday of festival week—April 21-24.
In addition to official and "related" events on those days, JJF's Saturday main event alone included 16 free daytime stages (80 acts) and 21 nighttime wristband venues (32 acts). And that was just the music.
JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL is known worldwide for its "half blues festival, half small-town fair and all about the Delta" offerings as well as for its mission to "put business in the businesses." Besides all of the live music, JJF featured racing pigs and monkeys riding dogs, workshops and panel discussions, Southern food and street vendors, a mini car show and parade... and more. As always, JJF also helped to promote "related events" that weekend put on by other individuals and organizations via jukejointfestival.com and the printed event program.
And Clarksdale's local clubs, musicians, hotels, museums, restaurants and retailers benefited (as well as the City and County via sales tax revenues). Several restaurants reported "record sales days," and every overnight room in town was booked up with a waiting list. This year's downtown JJF RV Parking Lot (thanks to Meraki and Bob Wright) hosted 38 RV-ers while Quapaw Canoe's Sunflower River tent camping hosted so many folks that they had to spread them up and down the river for the first time.
And how was the music? Off the hook! Musicians ranged from 9 to 95 years old. Many were local and regional, but some came from as far away as Colombia and Belgium. There are too many acts to list here, but names included GRAMMY honorees like Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, RL Boyce, Kenny Brown, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes and Jimbo Mathus in addition to festival favorites like The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, James "Super Chikan" Johnson, Watermelon Slim, and Duwayne, Garry and Kent Burnside. If you're interested, the full lineup is still at jukejointfestival.com.
Describing the impact of JJF, our fabulous tourism director Bubba O'Keefe put it this way: "It's an incredibly positive week for local musicians, businesses and entrepreneurs. It provides an enormous economic boost for our community. From the beginning, the festival's core mission has been to 'put business into our local businesses,' and it does just that. Every hotel room is filled. Every restaurant is busy. Every store owner is smiling."
Of course, JJF can only happen each year with the support of those who share the vision and love our community. 2022 Juke Joint Festival sponsors included Visit Clarksdale, Cathead Vodka, Visit Mississippi, Crossroads Economic Partnership, C Spire, Southern Bancorp and Magdovitz Foundation—in addition to dozens and dozens of other supporters and private donors, big and small.
"It's always so humbling to see how many community partners and supporters we have," said Nan Hughes, co-director of the Clarksdale Downtown Development Association nonprofit that organizes the annual event. "We couldn't do any of this without the generosity of our sponsors, the hard work of our volunteers and the enthusiasm of our visitors. We appreciate every single one of them. I always say, 'This is y'all's festival.'"
View this year's JJF promotional video at https://youtu.be/80ebEWw9eQg... and plan to attend in the future... the weekends of April 15, 2023, AND April 13, 2024. But don't wait, book your rooms now (or better yet, yesterday!). Full lodging list at visitclarksdale.com,
NOTE: Musicians can submit for 2023 festival consideration between Oct 15 and Dec 15, 2022, only, via a button that will appear on the jukejointfestival.com homepage only at that time. Pre-sale JJF nighttime wristbands go on sale on the website January 1, 2023. And exhibitors/vendors can start applying online soon after. Details online.
|There are zero quiet nights in CLARKSDALE, y'all. We have 'live' blues 365 nights per year...|
|Keep up with every week's happenings at the world-famous CAT HEAD MUSIC CALENDAR online at https://www.cathead.biz/music-calendar; be sure to scroll past the S.A.T. ad to the fest listing and below that the full Music Calendar that I update daily.|
PLUS, check out LiveFromClarksdale.org for Clarksdale's LIVE-STREAMS, supported by Visit Clarksdale Tourism, VisitClarksdale.com:
- Friday 6/3 - 8pm Rashad the Blues Kid celebrates with us and our friends online at Ground Zero's Facebook page.
- Chicago Blues Fest: Near the Windy City? Stop by Visit Mississippi's Juke Joint Stage at the Chicago Blues Fest to see our local artists -- and visit Bubba at the Visit Clarksdale table!
- Saturday 6/11 - 8pm Anthony "Big A" Sherrod's Birthday Bash is onstage at Ground Zero and online at Ground Zero's Facebook page.
- Saturday 6/18 - BAM Fest is the Birthplace of American Music Festival. We'll broadcast a set for friends online, and juke all weekend in a dozen venues across town. Check out the full lineup at https://bamfestms.com/.
|Clarksdale's inaugural WOMEN IN BLUES festival showcased from Country Blues to Soul Blues...|
|CAT HEAD WEB STORE is open 24 hours a day for your surfing and shopping pleasure.......|
|CAT HEAD is open for in-person visits 7 days a week at 11am (and earlier during event weekends), plus you can shop ONLINE at www.cathead.biz any time. We have stocked up for Juke Joint Fest week, so shop now for best selection. We've got new and classic T-shirts, hoodies, ballcaps, blues CDs, vinyl LPs, DVDs, books, posters, artwork, beverage glasses and more for the blues lovers on your list (especially if that's you)!|
|LATEST BLUES, MISSISSIPPI, CLARKSDALE, JAZZ AND RELATED NEWS. Check out the links below...|
|- Clarksdale's Ground Zero Blues Club just celebrated its big 21st anniversary! Congrats, y'all. See what all when on at https://www.facebook.com/GroundZeroBluesClub, and plan a future visit at groundzerobluesclub.com.|
- Goat Fest IX rocked the blues on the same Memorial Day weekend as Ground Zero's Anniversary, so it was a super fab time had by all. More on that at https://www.facebook.com/events/3201020760173441.
- Turn the key and start your next blues road-trip with this new Mississippi travel article (including Clarksdale and Cat Head) by Ketti at Tilted Map: www.tiltedmap.com/mississippi-blues-trail-guide. See the screenshot at bottom of this section.
- Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) TV flashback/rerun of the "Mississippi Roads" story on CAT HEAD from just before the pandemic... Watch at https://youtu.be/8MjXXO_AT2A.
- Latest blues news from our friends at the Blues Festival Guide: https://www.mynewsletterbuilder.com/email/newsletter/1415835753.
- Per press release, Clarksdale's "Delta Blues Museum is again participating in the Blue Star Museum program, benefitting active duty military and their families. Now through Labor Day, the Museum will offer free admission to those currently serving and up to five members of their family." More info on FB or deltabluesmuseum.org.
- Hear the latest Blues Trail Revisited podcasts at https://bluestrailrevisited.podbean.com/. Then, buy the DVD and CD that inspired the podcast at https://www.cathead.biz/cds-dvds.
- Do you have the apps? Get Visit Clarksdale Tourism apps (visitor app and audio walking tour app) via VisitClarksdale.com or your app store. Same for the Mississippi Blues Trail; go to msbluestrail.org or your app store. Then, come see us, y'all!
- Quapaw Canoe's John Ruskey writes his Riverside Hotel/Clarksdale memories at https://quapaw.substack.com/p/paddles-up-to-the-riverside-hotel?utm_source=email&s=r.
- Sign up for email updates re: Clarksdale's future renovation of the historic Paramount Theater at https://clarksdaleparamount.org/.
- Help with renovations of Clarksdale's historic Riverside Hotel via https://www.gofundme.com/f/cmmhd-save-black-familyowned-historic-blues-hotel?qid=b4825ee289a1d0181621ed7105f11d1a.
- Read French? Then, please check out this new, indepth Mississippi Fife & Drum article in ABS blues magazine... http://www.absmag.fr/aacm/.
- Congrats to legendary Jackson, Mississippi, singer Dorothy Moore: https://www.jsums.edu/margaretwalkercenter/2022/05/20/dorothy-moore-blues-trail-marker-unveiling/.
- Latest news from Clarksdale's Cutrer Mansion (Coahoma County Higher Ed Center), https://mailchi.mp/7979cac1234c/cchec-weekly-newsletter-15354021?e=e1088cf7ba.
- Willie Morris Writer's Trail Marker to Be Unveiled in Yazoo City - Saturday, June 4th - https://visityazoo.org/news/.
- Coming soon to Waterford, Mississippi... the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic (a truly great event)... nmshillcountrypicnic.com.
- 100 Men Hall in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, celebrates Ancestors Jubilee Weekend... https://the100menhall.com/collections/tickets/products/ancestors-weekend-ancestors-jubilee.
- Updates from the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi in nearby Cleveland at https://mailchi.mp/grammymuseumms/check-out-our-upcoming-summer-programs?e=7a252ab282.
- The National Museum of African American Music is open in Nashville, https://www.nmaam.org/.
- Grachan Moncur III, trailblazing jazz trombonist, dies at 85, https://www.npr.org/2022/06/03/1103013844/grachan-moncur-iii-trailblazing-blue-note-trombonist-dies-at-85.
- Sun Ra House in Philadelphia Is Now a Historic Landmark - https://pitchfork.com/news/sun-ra-house-in-philadelphia-is-now-a-historic-landmark/.
- Latest edition of "Making A Scene" e-magazine w/Kenny Neal on the cover, and CD reviews for Big Jack Johnson and others at https://www.makingascene.org/?na=v&nk=5215-ee656caab9&id=473.
- Cassettes are back? For some... https://www.nodepression.com/are-cassettes-making-a-comeback-why-yola-lilly-hiatt-and-others-are-feeling-the-format.
- Updates from Clarksdale's Higher Purpose Co. at https://mailchi.mp/higherpurpose/hpc-upcoming-lps-mens-summit-business-academy-cohort-selected-partners-with-the-woodgrain-studio-for-art-event-and-two-weeks-of-self-care?e=cf3d5fa498.
|American Blues Scene e-magazine reviews Clarksdale's JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL (plus photos)...|
|New Clarksdale-recorded "Mississippi Son" album from Mississippi son CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE...|
|Our BLUES FOUNDATION friends in Memphis survived the double whammy of BMAs and IBC!|
|Sometimes, I think that we Clarksdale festival organizers are gluttons for punishment, but I think the Blues Foundation in nearby Memphis out did us this year—organizing and executing both the Blues Music Awards (BMAs) and International Blues Challenge (IBC) events in the same week! Congrats, y'all! And the winner is...|
2022 Blues Music Awards (BMAs) Winners:
B.B. King Entertainer of the Year - Tommy Castro
Album of the Year - Tommy Castro Presents A Bluesman Came To Town, Tommy Castro
Band of the Year - Tommy Castro & The Painkillers
Song of the Year - “I’d Climb Mountains”, written & performed by Selwyn Birchwood
Best Emerging Artist Album - Live On Beale Street: A Tribute To Bobby “Blue” Bland, Rodd Bland and the Members Only Band
Acoustic Blues Album - Dear America, Eric Bibb
Blues Rock Album - Resurrection, Mike Zito
Contemporary Blues Album - 662, Kingfish
Soul Blues Album - Long As I Got My Guitar, Zac Harmon
Traditional Blues Album - Pinky’s Blues, Sue Foley
Acoustic Blues Artist - Keb’ Mo’
Blues Rock Artist - Albert Castiglia
Contemporary Blues Female Artist - Vanessa Collier
Contemporary Blues Male Artist - Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Soul Blues Female Artist - Annika Chambers
Soul Blues Male Artist - Curtis Salgado
Traditional Blues Female Artist (Koko Taylor Award) - Sue Foley
Traditional Blues Male Artist - Taj Mahal
Instrumentalist – Bass - Danielle Nicole
Instrumentalist – Drums - Tom Hambridge
Instrumentalist – Guitar - Eric Gales
Instrumentalist – Harmonica - Jason Ricci
Instrumentalist – Horn - Jimmy Carpenter
Instrumentalist – Piano (Pinetop Perkins Piano Player Award) - Mike Finnigan
Instrumentalist – Vocals - John Németh
2022 International Blues Challenge (IBC) Winners:
Winner: The Wacky Jugs
2nd Place Band: Cros
3rd Place Band: Soul Nite featuring D.K. Harrell
Winner: Eric Ramsey
2nd Place: Jhett Black
GIBSON GUITAR AWARD (BEST BAND GUITARIST)
MEMPHIS CIGAR BOX GUITAR AWARD (BEST SOLO/DUO GUITARIST)
Winner: Eric Ramsey
LEE OSKAR HARMONICA AWARD (BEST HARMONICA PLAYER)
Winner: Jhett Black
BEST SELF-PRODUCED CD
Winner: Memphis Lightning – Borrowed Time
PLUS... 2022 Keeping The Blues Alive (KBA) Award Recipients:
Big Blues Bender’s HART Party
Can’t Stop The Blues
Fueling Musicians Program
Raúl de la Rosa
|New headstone for the late-great Mississippi-born blues legend BIG GEORGE BROCK in St. Louis...|
|From Big George's widow Miss Evelyn via longtime BGB supporter Carol Boss' social media:|
BIG GEORGE BROCK is now truly resting in peace thanks to his dearest family and friends... especially Evelyn Riddick, Miss Lee, Cyrus Wingate, Carol Boss, Reed Radcliffe, Roger Stolle and the Killer Headstone Blues Project. Many thanks to all. The beautiful new headstone at Laurel Hill Memorial Gardens in St. Louis is befitting of a bluesman famous worldwide for his sharp suits and enormous personality.
Born in Mississippi in 1932, the legendary musician passed away in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2020. During his nearly 90 years on earth, he farmed cotton, wrestled a bear, boxed Sonny Liston, owned a series of blues clubs, recorded albums, received awards, and performed his special brand of deep Delta blues around the globe — from Italy to Switzerland, from France to the UK, and beyond. He also shared stage or studio with the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Albert King, Steven Seagal and many more.
He loved his adopted St. Louis home but never forgot his Mississippi roots, returning dozens of times to perform in and around Clarksdale. As one UK magazine fittingly described Big George, “He transport[ed] us back fifty years to a Mississippi juke joint.” He did, indeed. Gone but never forgotten. RIP.
PS - By the way the Killer Blues Headstone Project has a new website to check out at www.killerblues.net. Take a look at the 137 headstones they've placed so far... including Mr. Big George Brock's.
|TOURISM FORUM coming to GRAMMY Museum Mississippi in Cleveland on June 8th...|
|Are you an event organizer or club owner or Mississippi musician or tourism director or just interested in how we are all working together to attract more visitors to the Delta from around the U.S. and the world? Then, drop on by the world-famous GRAMMY Museum Mississippi this Wednesday, June 8th (6pm-7pm) for a very special TOURISM FORUM bringing together movers and shakers representing different disciplines involved with musical and cultural tourism in the area (including yours truly). This is a FREE event, though seating may be limited, so please arrive early. As a bonus, Muddy Waters' great nephew Keith Johnson will perform, y'all. For more on the museum itself, go to grammymuseumms.org. (And while you're in Cleveland, check out the Blues Trail site at Dockery.)|
|TWO BIG BLUES FESTIVALS to consider in Mississippi this month, y'all!|
|BENTONIA BLUES FESTIVAL (per Scott Barretta on FB): Here's the schedule for the 50th edition of the Bentonia Blues Festival, held at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia. Bobby Rush will be appearing on Friday, June 17. Jimmy "Duck" Holmes will be playing every night. Info at https://www.facebook.com/BentoniaBluesFestival/ and https://visityazoo.org.|
June 16th, 2022 starts @3pm
Red Meat Rhetoric
Ryan Lee Crosby
Little Willie Farmer
June 17th, 2022 starts @ 3pm
Little MS Soul
Randy "19th Street Red" Cohen
Terry "Harmonica" Bean
June 18th, 2022 starts @ 1:30pm
Randy "19th Street Red" Cohen
Libby Rae Watson
Jesse Cotton Stone
NORTH MISSISSIPPI HILL COUNTRY PICNIC: Info at https://nmshillcountrypicnic.com/. JUNE 24-25, 2022 LINEUP:
* Kenny brown
* Duwayne Burnside
* Garry Burnside
* North Mississippi Allstars
* Eric Deaton
* Alvin Youngblood Hart’s Muscle Theory
* Rocket 88
* Rising Stars Fife & Drum Band
* Kudzu Kings
* Trenton Ayers ft. Wolfeagle
* Memphissippi Sounds
* Cary Hudson
* Just Groovin’ Experience
* R.L. Boyce
* John McDowell & Christine Conley
* Brad Moneymaker
* Robert Kimbrough Sr. Blues Connection
* Kent Burnside
* Bill Steber & Libby Rae Watson
|Read KINGFISH article and CAT HEAD's regular column in Blues Music Magazine online...|
|Where is "THE FESTIVAL CITY" located? Clarksdale, Mississippi, y'all. Doubts? Please read on...|
This year's 2022 CLARKSDALE FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS:
- 9/3, 2022 - 4th Red's Old-Timers Blues Fest - rescheduled from Memorial to Labor Day weekend (MLK Park Stage).
- 10/5-8, 2022 - near Clarksdale, MS, in Helena, AR - King Biscuit Blues Festival & Symposium, kingbiscuitfestival.com
- 10/9, 2022 - Super Blues Sunday: Tentatively including... Cat Head Mini Blues Fest (9am), Bluesberry Cafe Blues Breakfast (10am), Delta Blues Museum special hours, Ground Zero Blues Club blues brunch, Hopson Commissary/Shack Up Inn's Pinetop Perkins Celebration (3pm)... plus music at Levon's, Hooker Grocer, Red's Lounge, Bad Apple Blues Club and more!
- 10/13-16, 2022 - Deep Blues Fest (official and related blues & roots music events), www.deepbluesfest.com
Next year's 2023 CLARKSDALE FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS:
- 4/13-16, 2023 - Juke Joint Festival & Related Events w/100 more blues acts; our biggest festival - www.jukejointfestival.com
- 4/16, 2023 - Cat Head 21st Anniversary Mini Blues Fest (post-JJF), www.cathead.biz
- usually in Fall (TBA) - annual Mag Fest (organized by the Magnuson brothers).
- 9/2, 2023 - 5th Red's Old-Timers Blues Fest (MLK Park Stage) - www.cathead.biz.
- 10/4-7, 2023 - near Clarksdale, MS, in Helena, AR - King Biscuit Blues Festival & Symposium, kingbiscuitfestival.com
- 10/8, 2023 - Cat Head Mini Blues Fest (post-Biscuit Sunday) - www.cathead.biz.
- 10/8, 2023 - Super Blues Sunday!
PLUS, PLAN FOR 2024 JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL DATES in Clarksdale, MS: - Sat., April 13, 2024 w/related events that Thurs-Sun.
MUSIC CALENDAR updates online at https://www.cathead.biz/music-calendar.
|A better BEFORE AND AFTER than my last newsletter. The CAT HEAD rides again......|
|Regular readers of the CAT HEAD UPDATE may recall that some fool with no insurance or license (and not even driving his own car) nearly totalled my parked car at 3am on March 7th. Then, he tried but failed to flee. Well, 7 weeks later, Clarksdale's Southern Collision rolled my ride back out of their garage, and put the keyfob in my hand. Considering the extent of the damage, they did an incredible job. And it drives great. Anyway, hopefully y'all never need a Clarksdale auto repair shop, but if you ever do, I recommend my new Southern Collision friends in the second pic. (The only thing my repaired car was missing was the "Challenger" nameplate for the grill, so I just replaced it with one that says "Clarksdale.") Also, I have to tip my hat to Travelers Insurance (via Clarksdale's Fiser Insurance); my rep was super helpful throughout the long, stressful process; so, another recommendation goes out for both Fiser and Travelers. THANKS, y'all!|
|And finally, goodbye to a good man and Clarksdale's real "burger king"... Mr. "WOP's BBQ".|
|One evening nearly two decades ago, I talked Terry "Big T" Williams in riding down to Greenville with me to play for free at a blues fundraiser event. (I don't remember what it benefited, but it was at Walnut Street Blues Bar.) By the time we got back to Clarksdale, it was 3am. I asked Big T where to take him, and he asked me if I was hungry. "Uh, yeah... it's 3am!" "I know a place." Sure enough, he directed me to 1406 North State Street here in Clarksdale—an all-night burger joint called WOP's BBQ that was attached to a cool juke joint called Annie Bell's. And it was incredible.|
Later, when my buddy Jeff Konkel (Broke & Hungry Records) started coming down regularly to work on film and music projects, we would usually end the night with a burger run. Jeff famously abhors mayonnaise, and I casually have my doubts about yellow mustard. Soon, Mr. WOP (Milton Carroll James, Sr.) or his lovely wife would announce "No mustard! No Mayo!" when we walked through the door. Sweet people, great service, awesome burgers.
In June 2018, the man behind the griddle retired, and the family closed the restaurant. (The image below is a collage from a Facebook post noting the closing.) Sadly, on May 18, 2022, the REAL "Burger King" moved on up to the late-night kitchen in the sky. RIP.
Watch a Barefoot Workshops documentary short about WOPS BBQ at https://vimeo.com/108185886. Also, catch Jeff and I entering for some tasty burgers at the 19:21 mark of this Moonshine & Mojo Hands episode at http://moonshineandmojohands.com/episode-03.html. Here is a post about Wop's by our friend St. Louis Frank: http://www.ratpackstlouis.com/joints.htm#wops. And here is the obituary: https://www.pressregister.com/milton-carrell-james-sr#sthash.GBwiXIhO.dpbs.