The blues was first played by itinerant musicians in juke joints on the edge of cotton plantations, later migrating into so-called urban lounges, and regional musicians still practice their craft and entertain their fans in both, as well as in modern blues clubs and casino lounges.
The film focuses, in particular, on two well-known Mississippi venues: Jimmy King’s legendary Subway Lounge which, for three decades, operated in the basement of the historic, black-owned Summers Hotel in Jackson, MS; and actor Morgan Freeman’s and attorney Bill Luckett’s Ground Zero Blues Club, a contemporary blues venue in Clarksdale, MS that incorporates the design elements, menu, and spirit of a traditional juke.
The story of Mississippi jukes is told by blues historians Dick Waterman and Steve Cheseborough, by the club owners, by local politicians, and by participating musicians. The musicians also demonstrate styles of blues that originated in the Mississippi Delta and elsewhere around the state.
Performing at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale are Alvin Youngblood Hart with Sam Carr and Anthony Sherrod. Performing at the Subway Lounge in Jackson are Bobby Rush, Chris Thomas King, Vasti Jackson, Patrice Moncell, Eddie Cotton, Greg “Fingers” Taylor, Lucille, Abdul Rasheed, Levon Lindsey, J.T. Watkins, Dennis Fountain, Pat Brown, George Jackson, Steve Cheseborough, Casey Phillips, Jimmy King, David Hughes, Virgil Brawley, and the Subway’s two alternating house bands: The House Rockers and The King Edward Blues Band.
LAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI JUKES looks at the buildings, the landscapes, and the communities where the blues began, and it examines how original blues traditions have evolved over time, carried into a new century by committed musicians and club owners, both in Mississippi and around the world.
“Juke joints – the early conservatory for blues musicians – and their diminishing existence is the focus of ‘Last of the Mississippi Jukes’…a nice tribute to a part of American history and those dedicated to maintaining its relevancy.” — Nate Guidry, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Mugge [has] made a career of getting the beating heart of great American roots music at its most soulful and authentic on film… [JUKES] does an excellent job of capturing the proud culture of the remaining juke joints.” —Ted Drozdowski, The Boston Phoenix
“Robert Mugge’s 90-minute non-fiction field trip is a fascinating and moving account…a wonderful look back at a once-thriving subculture.” — Brent Simon, Entertainment Today
Includes the short ‘The Subway Lounge Today’, an update on Last of the Mississippi Jukes with previously unreleased interview with Jimmy King
86 mins on 1 disc
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