We Juke Up in Here!

We Juke Up in Here!
Mississippi Juke Joint Culture at the Crossroads

Broke & Hungry Records / Cat Head Delta Blues & Fo

By Georgetown Fats
May 2012

Given that blues music, as an industry, is littered with stories of entrepreneurs like the Chess Brothers taking liberties with the livelihood of the artists they represented or a once great indy-blues label resorting to signing pop-blues pablum in order to appeal to the masses, it is hard not to respect works of Jeff Konkel and Roger Stolle.

Konkel, through his Broke & Hungry Records, has given a home to the music of Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes as well as others. Stolle, through his Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, Inc., has served as an ambassador to all things Mississippi country blues. Separately the work of these two blues philanthropists is impressive, but when they team up these two shine. In 2008 Konkel and Stolle created/directed/financed the award-winning M is for Mississippi, which introduced many to such characters as The Mississippi Marvel, T Model Ford, and Robert Belfour. In 2012 Stolle and Konkel are back to introduce many to the proprietor of Red’s in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Red Paden.

While there are many scenes in We Juke Up in Here! - Mississippi Juke Joint Culture at the Crossroads outside of Red’s in Clarksdale, it is hard not to notice the biggest star of this documentary. Having had the privilege of meeting Red personally, to see his story as part of a documentary it is hard not to have a deeper respect for a man who can both clearly light up a room or clear it with just a flash of his sunglass covered eyes. Bartender/proprietor/ bouncer/huckster and booker for his self-named juke joint, Red may not have “seen it all in the blues,” but he has seen more than most of us. While others dress the part to “play bluesman,” Red unabashedly claims to be one of the last bluesmen and there are very few who could argue with him.

Though the entire documentary is not based on Red Paden or Red’s in Clarksdale, a lot of the live shots and the majority of the accompanying music disc seem to be recorded at Red’s. Our filmmakers visit such Mississippi locales as the Dew Drop Inn, The Poor Monkey Lounge or Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes’ Blue Front Cafe and other locals, each with a story to tell.

With an accompanying CD with music from Anthony ‘Big A’ Sherrod, Terry ‘Harmonica’ Bean, Elmo Williams, Hezekiah Early, Robert Lee ‘Lil Poochie’ Watson and Louis ‘Gearshifter’ well worth the $29.95 price tag alone, it is hard to not want to add We Juke Up in Here! - Mississippi Juke Joint Culture at the Crossroads to any blues lovers’ collection. The Juke Joint and Juke culture may be slipping away, but Stolle and Konkel won’t let it slip away without a fight.

<- back to Features