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Thursday
Mar292012

Walnut Street Blues Bar, Greenville, Mississippi 

I found my way to the Walnut Street Blues Bar, in Greenville, Mississippi, not as a sought out destination, but almost, by accident.  I had a website called Junior's Juke Joint, earmarked for several years, and it was managed by a self-proclaimed blues bum, who wrote, extensively, on his recommended jukes to visit in the Mississippi Delta.
 
So, on my last trip Down South, to Mississippi, I spent a bit of time in the Delta, before I made my way on down to Pearl River County, where my folks are.  I had this notion, since I had not spent any time in Greenville, that it topped my list, for blues spots to check out, and remembering Junior's website, I went back to it, and saw one particular place, the Walnut Bait Shop, and knew, immediately, that was where I was going in Greenville.  

I got my room booked at the Comfort Inn, and I was excited to be finally putting all of Junior's recommendations to use!  Only one thing I failed to check out, and that was just how long ago those recommendations were made!

I got into Greenville, early evening, and to be honest, I knew nothing about where I was going, or what to expect.  This was one of those 'wingin' it kind of moments, for me, and I figured there was only one way for me check things out...just go.

I drive my car down Walnut Street, and I start looking for any obvious signs of this juke, but I don't see anything, with the name, Bait Shop.  I stop, and I get out of the car. I see this bar, but I can tell from the
signage, it is not the spot I am trying to find.  So, back to my car, I go, and with my handy dandy iPhone, I search out the address, again, which I must have written down wrong.  

No, this is the right address...but something, just ain't right.  I go inside, to find the Walnut Blues Bar, and go right on up to the bar, order my drink, and sit, and decide I'll check it out anyhow.  

Before I can get myself settled at the bar, someone asks me, 'are you with the film crew?', to which I reply, 'depends on what that gets me', thinking, maybe they left an open tab at the bar, in need of some settlin'.  Turns out, later that evening, the place is flooded with a film crew, working on The Haunted.  I make an executive decision, to admit I am not traveling with any of the film crew, but this had no affect on my level of service, in case any of you might be wonderin'.  

Danny approaches me, asking what I'd like to drink, whom I later find out is the owner, and we start chatting about the bar.  I tell him about how I went there looking for the Bait Shop, and he explains it closed some time ago, and since he owned the building, he opened the Walnut Street Blues Bar in its place.  I later found out, as well, that the website for Junior's Juke Joint, had not been updated in many, many years!

Ok, so I'm here, and at least it's blues.  Might be a 'blues bar', and I was after a 'juke', but happy to at least have the blues. Danny handed me a card, and the slogan for the bar was 'Enter as a stranger, leave as a friend', and being that Mississippi is considered the 'friendliest state', I figured there's probably some truth to the claim.  

I decide I'll have some food while I am there, and I end up ordering some chicken fried steak, creamed corn, black-eyed peas, Texas toast, and gravy.  That was the first thing I was real happy about.  At this point, I had been on the road for several days, and the home cookin' was quite welcome!

Then, when the music started, I realized it was a bit of a blues jam that evening, which was Saturday night.  There were some solid musicians on stage, but it had that laid back feeling of a open house jam, because many people were getting up to jam, jumping in and out of sets, and it had that 'house party' sort of feeling in the air.  

I will say, there were several people, in the bar, who are also well known players, in the blues, and Danny was taking me around for introductions.  It was local, and everyone knew one another, and Danny wanted to extend his Southern hospitality, ensuring I knew everyone there.

What I found interesting about the night, was the energy I find when I am Down South.  We are a musically driven culture, and so much of what we do, is centered around our music.  As I sat at the edge of the bar, and the edge of the stage, I could not help but notice the cross section of people who were in that bar, that night, there in the Mississippi Delta, all for the love of the music. 

Most people, well outside of Mississippi, who have not seen this first-handedly, would probably not believe, the varying walks of life, gathered together, on that dance floor, in that bar, would have ever gathered together in the same room!

However, everyone was there, and it was that same, old, familiar feeling and experience I have Down South. It was like coming home again, that 'house party', everyone is here for the love of the music, and nothin' else matters!

That is what I truly love about Mississippi- little surprises tucked away, all over the place.  I write this, to extend a thank you, to Danny, his wife, and staff, for their lovely hospitality that wonderful evening, I found my way to the Walnut Street Blues Bar.  'Enter as a stranger, leave as a friend', is exactly what I did. 

Connie Rouble,
the Mississippi Queen,
Mississippi Queen Foods


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