Jesus, Hippies, Blues.....and Gip

March 24, 2017  •  1 Comment

Hidden away, in a curve, on a back street, on Paul's Hill, behind a house is Gip's Place, the only remaining juke (or jook) joint in the state of Alabama.  Since 1952 Henry (his real name is Herman) "Gip" Gipson has been providing a place for the locals and tourists alike to come and enjoy great music.  The joint, which is only open on Saturday night, is a testament to one man's dedication to provide food entertainment for everyone.

No one really knows for sure, at least from what I understand, exactly when Gip was born, and at times he has remained the same age for several  years.  When I was there this past weekend, I checked with the lady that collects the cover charge and she told me he was 97 years old but could be over 100, which I found rather amusing.

For the last few years, the City of Bessemer and Gip have had an ongoing disagreement about whether his place was legal or not.  It seems that the city wanted him to get a license to operate but to get a license you had to be in a place zoned commercial. They even went so far as to shut him down one Saturday night, even though they knew he had been operating the place the same for the previous 40 years or so.  Apparently, they came to some sort of agreement and Gip has been allowed to keep doing what he has done for all of these years, at least for now.  At 97 years old you have to wonder if they are going to tolerate it as long as he is living, figuring that he can't live much longer.  Based on what I saw this past weekend, he might outlive the current administration.

The entertainment this past Saturday night was Chris Simmons, a quite accomplished singer and guitar player that had the crowd on their feet, as he performed a mix of blues and other music.  During his performance he did a tribute to Chuck Berry, who had passed away earlier that day, of Johnny be Goode.  When the music began Gip went around and got people up to dance and then joined in, twisting almost down to his knees and back up again. From this, it was apparent that everyone loved Gip.  Whether it was your first time to visit or if you had been there 20-30 times, you were part of the family.

All throughout the place were posters, a couple even talking about Po Monkey's as well as festivals in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and several different signs that I found interesting.  The one about hippies using a different entrance was intriguing but even more so was the the car tag that spelled out "Jesus" next to the blues festival posters.

Below is a slideshow of few images of Gip's all taken with a Fujifilm X-T1, using a Rokinon 8mm lens. and Velvia simulation.  This combination produces very brilliant colors that set the mood for a place like this. 

 


Comments

1.Dave(non-registered)
Cool photos! Great story too
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