blues

Content, Curation, and Criticism

“The greatest reward for consistently sharing interesting content…is the request for new connections, friends, fans, and followers,” said Brian Solis. As he further outlined in this article, Solis writes that information is currency, and curation done well is an art.

What’s nifty about content curation is that “links are presents that can be given or earned but not bought,” according to Jeff Jarvis. Who doesn’t like sharing free finds?

That’s modern day curation, which includes pretty much everyone that shares deals, ideas, jokes, and news. But if you can figure out a way to cash in by spreading cool content, you’ve reached baller status.

To do this expertly, it’s better if you have a trained eye within your topic. If you’re a fashionista like Elle Perry, I therefore trust the trendy wardrobe recommendations. If you’re “Piled higher. (and) Deeper,” you probably know more about your subject area than me. Mindy McAdams‘ seven curation tips point out that if you’re an authority on a matter, readers trust you more.

Every post in my beat is derived from personal experiences. Whether I went to an event, visited a restaurant, or interviewed someone, I’m relaying first-hand insights or information to others.

Some use curation to dive into the experiences and emotions of others. “For me, I wanted to tell the story of Tunisia at an extraordinary moment in time, and capture as much personal media as possible from people living through it,” said Andy Carvin in an interview with Ethan Zuckerman. Carvin covered several country fallouts from the ground up via Twitter.

Yet, curating, like other forms of journalism, can come at a cost. If one develops a heavy habit of aggregating articles or finds, meaningful content could get sacrificed. And reputations could become diluted. (BuzzFeed comes to mind.)

And then there are the critics. A couple of months ago, I photographed some popular drinking establishments around town. The “Juke Joint” post garnered more than 1,500 uniques. Maybe because it was bars. Maybe because it sounded subversive.

As I had feared, not everyone agreed with my choices. Worse. Some vehemently told me so. This or that selection was “more than a stretch” to be placed on that list.

All picks were homegrown, independent venues that feature local music. And I prefaced the post explaining my broader definition of a juke joint (not the Delta-specific, turn-of-the-century one). Why? Because it’s 2014.

And we live in a metropolis.

Even going down South to Clarksdale’s Ground Zero wouldn’t replicate Harpo’s hidden joint.

Was I perturbed by the discourse? No. But my immediate reaction was along the same vein of Jeff Jarvis’ sentiments…”Those damn hipsters,” I thought. Scout them out some grungy spots where the closing time isn’t posted, and it’s still not edgy enough.

My intent was to start a conversation about freshening up the “juke joint” label because these too were institutions of local culture. Yes, traditional word choice meanings are important, but sometimes it’s the popular sites that’ll be remembered as historic.

Then I realized, it’s all a matter of perspective and maybe everyone doesn’t have the gift to bring soul wherever they go.

My juke joint is a place where I can mingle, drink, and jive. And it just so happens that I’ve curated one hell of a long list.

5 Juke Joints where Memphians Jive

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
  • JukeSoul-box
  • 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.