What’s a juke joint?
Some say it’s a law-breaking, rag-tag shack that can only be found by word of mouth. Yet, my expectation for any jukin’ hotspot is ironically lower.
It’s typically a grungy, after-hours place where music is a feature, the inebriated sporadically dance, and barflies just watch.
Memphis has been blessed with dozens of them. To begin, here are five places to impress your out-of-town guests if they’re seeking the scrappier side of the Bluff City.
5. The Buccaneer Lounge consistently delivers by showcasing solid musicians, must-see Tigers and Grizzlies games, and piratey decor. Permanently docked on Monroe near the shores of Midtown.
4. Wild Bill’s welcomes everyone…if you’re willing to boogie. Bill’s bands are rooted in soul and funk. Just past North Parkway on Vollintine.
3. The Blue Monkey: It’s okay if you’re already seeing double because there are two monkeys in Memphis: Midtown & Downtown. Bands, billiards, and local beer always flow on Saturday nights.
2. Kudzu’s Bar & Grill: You’ll feel like Robert Johnson when you step inside this bluesy hideaway in the Edge district. The patio-like atmosphere recreates what Clarksdale offers, yet Kudzu’s is conveniently closer.
1. Earnestine & Hazel’s, downtown on South Main, is best described in bullets:
- Brothel (formerly)
- Soul burgers
- Nate the Bartender
- Spirits (shaken, stirred, and ressurected)
Memphis is full of authentic dive bars and this only scratches the surface. If you have a favorite for us to try, please comment below or via #MEMJukeJoints.