For many years, Hill Country bluesman Junior Kimbrough had a juke joint in rural Marshall County that was a destination for those in the know. People from all over the world made their way to the spot, where blues continued “All Night Long”, as the song said. The juke moved a couple of times over the years, then burned to the ground, and never reopened. So when I heard that Junior’s son was opening a new juke called Junior’s Juke Joint #2 near Holly Springs, I was thrilled. The new juke is much closer to town than the old ones had been, just north of the Rust College campus along Highway 7. The bright blue building was already abuzz with activity when I arrived, and I saw a number of people that had just come from the blues concert on the square, just as I had. Little Joe Ayers performed first, and as he was on stage Shannon McNally and Garry Burnside came in. Shortly thereafter, Junior Kimbrough’s son Robert Kimbrough got on stage and performed several tunes, and then the man of the evening appears, the juke’s owner himself, David Kimbrough Jr. As he performs a number of the Hill Country blues standards, his dad’s as well as R. L. Burnside’s, the floor fills up with willing dancers. When I left at midnight, things were still going strong. Junior’s Juke Joint #2 will be a must-visit attraction in Holly Springs.
Last Friday night, as David Kimbrough Jr struck up the first few notes of his first tune at The Cool Spot in Holly Springs, I realized something momentous was happening that ought to be preserved for the future, so I recorded the entire show with a recording app in my iPhone. Of course the recordings were made under less than optimum conditions, but I have used the editing software in Audacity to clean the tracks up as best I can. Enjoy this authentic Hill Country blues played by three of Junior Kimbrough’s sons, David, Robert and Kenny. David’s album Shell-Shocked can be purchased on iTunes here. Kenny also recorded an album under the name Kent Kimbrough on Hill Country Records, and that can also be purchased on iTunes here.
Only once before had I heard David Kimbrough Jr, at this year’s North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic, and at that event, he played the dulcimer with his drummer, but tonight, amongst his friends and relatives in Holly Springs, he played the Hill Country blues style for which his dad was justifiably famous. Backing him was his brother Robert Kimbrough on bass and his brother Kenny Kimbrough on drums, and the music, atmosphere and dancing must have been something like being at Junior’s old juke joint back in the day, except that everything had to end early because clubs are supposed to close at 2 AM in Holly Springs. As it was, the crowd didn’t want to leave, and the club owner finally had to run everybody out at about 2:30 in the morning!
I had heard that David Kimbrough Jr. would be coming from Arkansas to Holly Springs to play at a club called The Cool Spot, so I drove down there, and when I arrived, Garry Burnside was on stage with his band, and there was already a good-sized crowd in the place. David Kimbrough arrived shortly after I got there, and I learned he would be playing with Robert Kimbrough and Kenny Kimbrough on the evening’s second set. I also met a photographer for a Mississippi based urban entertainment magazine called MissHaps, which covers the state’s entertainment and club scene. The venue was of some interest, too. It was actually rather huge, with a large outdoor courtyard and deck that featured a projection screen on which videos were projected. It appeared that the other side of the courtyard was perhaps another club, or maybe a restaurant. It was actually a cool place to hang out and party, and I wonder if they’ve ever had live bands outdoors on the courtyard, which would be really cool indeed.
Robert Kimbrough performing with his band the Blues Connection at the First National Bank/Cat Head stage at Juke Joint Festival 2013 in Clarksdale.
I drove down to Clarksdale last Thursday to meet up with Justin Showah, the owner of Hill Country Records, who was playing the opening night of Juke Joint Festival with Jimbo Mathus’ Mosquitoville touring show at the Delta Cinema. Once in Clarksdale, I met up with Robert Kimbrough, one of blues legend Junior Kimbrough’s sons, and got caught up in the street performances and general festivities. I bought some vinyl records, saw some performances outdoors and at Ground Zero Blues Club, and ate dinner at the famous Abe’s Bar-B-Q. I had always thought of Juke Joint Festival as a local festival, like most small Southern towns have, but it’s really more of a South By Southwest of the blues. A lot of fun, and it really wouldn’t get going good until Friday and Saturday!