Top Ten Juke Joint Rules

Lay Your Burden Down - Includes a Radioland Video

Riley, Magical Madge, Dandy, Red Paden, Dingo in front of Red's Lounge in Clarksdale

Riley, Magical Madge, Dandy, Red Paden, Dingo in front of Red’s Lounge in Clarksdale Juke Joint Rules

Top Ten Juke Joint Rules for visiting Clarksdale’s fabled juke joints, blues clubs, music venues, etc., will ease your mind and put you square in the middle of cool. We might be a land of affable-yet-pugnacious characters, eccentrics, crazies, lazies, loosey-goozies and profound pontificators, but we do appreciate a nod to our societal norms, if the concept of Delta norms is not a misnomer.

VIDEO: Listen to the impromptu Radioland audio genesis of Top Ten Juke Joint Rules.

Clarksdale has live music 365 days a year with every night, venue and band providing a unique experience. Consistent Sounds Around Town venues include Red’s Lounge, Ground Zero Blues Club, Bluesberry Café, Levon’s, Hambone Gallery, Stone Pony, Hopson Commissary, and Rust. All have their own flavor, so put your expectations on a back burner, go with the flow and lay your burden down.

Have a ball, y’all! Life just doesn’t get any better than this; it might get worse, but it likely won’t get any better…and when you are out and about, tell ‘em Chilly Billy & Magical Madge sent ya: It could hurt or it could help, but it will demonstrably change your situation! Cheers!

  1. BE YOURSELF AND GIVE OTHERS THE FREEDOM TO BE THEMSELVES! Lighten’ up and get loose. Your infectious, free spirit will likely make others more festive.
  2. CHECK OUT SOUNDS AROUND TOWN IN CLARKSDALE. Roger Stolle of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art releases this listing of events going on in Clarksdale from Thursday-Wednesday and changes weekly.
  3. TALK TO FOLKS next to you, they are probably from some really cool place and are likely desirous to make connections also. Many have met lifelong friends from sitting or standing next to someone in a juke joint.
  4. DANCE when and where you want to, and don’t get pissed off if someone is dancing in front of you! It’s a juke joint, not a performance venue! Musicians feed off our love and dancing makes blues performers happy and a happy musician makes for a happy reveler, and the beat goes on…
  5. TIP the musicians, bartender, waiter, server, etc., but feel no obligation to buy anybody’s CD (unless you want to) or to tip some fool who dances one number “just for you” and then asks for a tip. Just say, “I don’t think so, Dude,” and go on ‘bout yo business!
  6. DON’T VIDEOTAPE WITHOUT PERMISSION and don’t be obnoxious with a smart phone or camera. If taking a quick pic, turn the backlight on the smart phone down as low as possible, as the light often irritates the hell out of folks. If you are not sure of what’s cool, just ask somebody, they might know. ?
  7. DON’T WHIP OUT YOUR HARMONICA and get to thinkin’ you’re bein’ a blessin’ to folks, unless you have permission from the performer and or the house to do so! PERIOD! Unless it is open mic or jam night somewhere, then it’s cool!
  8. BLUES MUSICIANS MIGHT NEED TO TAKE CARE OF SOME “BIDNESS” while on BREAK, so don’t monopolize their time by telling them about your latest venture. Definitely speak to them, buy their product, but just be sensitive if they look like they need the break.
  9. TAKE A DELTA BOHEMIAN TOUR prior to enjoying the nightlife, which oftentimes includes serendipitous encounters with local characters, acclimating you to the juke joint scene providing a more thorough knowledge of the history, terroir, and environmental factors informing the BLUES.
  10. TELL FOLKS ABOUT CLARKSDALE; IT MATTERS!
  11. An addendum from Roger Stolle: Btw, the #1 rule for Red’s juke joint, specifically? It’s really more like a house party than a blues club — except that Big Red doesn’t want you at his actual house. This is his home away from home, so he makes up the rules for his living room on a nightly basis. Whatever his says at that moment? Well, THOSE are the rules… 

AND……………..………REMEMBER MAGICAL MADGE’S DADDY’S MANTRA: * Love God * Love others * Seek the Truth * Be patient * Life ain’t fair

Y’all have a GOOD DAY! Chilly Billy

Buy Bill Abel‘s ONE MAN BAND featuring “Burden Down”

Other helpful tidbits for Juke Joint Rules if you are visiting Live Music Venues in Clarksdale can be found below and by following this link.

  • Red’s Lounge, aka Red’s Blues Club: Cash only. Expect to pay a cover charge for live music. Seat yourself. No smoking inside. Beer and water sold at far left end of bar. You can take your own wine and spirits. Sometimes food is sold from Red’s cooker in front of the club. Pay as you go.
  • Ground Zero Blues Club: Credit cards accepted. Expect to pay a cover charge for live music. Seat yourself. No smoking inside. Full bar. Kitchen. You can run a tab at the bar or with your server. Your server can bring you the ticket and close out personal tab at the bar or pay as you go.
  • Bluesberry Café: Credit cards accepted. Expect to pay a cover charge for live music at night. Seat yourself. No smoking inside. Beer and water sold. You can take your own wine and spirits. Kitchen serves homemade Italian dishes. You can run a tab at the bar or with your server. Pay at the back counter.
  • Levon’s: Credit cards accepted. Seat yourself if you don’t see a hostess. No smoking inside. Full bar. Kitchen. You can run a tab at the bar or with your server. Pay ticket at the bar.
  • Hambone Gallery: Credit cards accepted. Expect to pay a cover charge for live music. Seat yourself. No smoking inside. Beer, wine and water is sold at back bar. You can take your own spirits. Run a tab or pay as you go.
  • Stone Pony: Credit cards accepted. Hostess will seat you. No smoking inside. Full bar. Kitchen. You can run a tab at the bar or with your server and close out your tab with each or pay as you go.
  • Hopson Commissary: Credit cards accepted. Expect to pay a cover charge for live music. Seat yourself. Smoking allowed. Full bar. Food availability varies. Order drinks at bar where you can run a tab and close out or pay as you go.
  • Rust: Credit cards accepted. Usually no cover charge unless it is a full band, then expect to pay a cover charge. If dining, Hostess will seat you. General seating in Juke Joint Chapel performance area. No smoking inside. Beer and water sold at bar. You can take your own wine and spirits. Kitchen. You can run a tab at the bar or with your server and close out your tab with each or pay as you go.

This list does not include all of the music venues in Clarksdale as there are pop-up events going on all the time in various locations and seasonal music venues. Learn more about them in our Clarksdale Live Music Venues Guide. Check out the weekly SOUNDS AROUND TOWN IN CLARKSDALE to see all we have going on so you can plan a visit soon! Stay with us! Read about Places to Stay in Clarksdale! Still not convinced you should come here? WATCH THIS DOCUMENTARY and you will understand. 

Originally published October 16, 2016.

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