If the juke joint's a-rockin', come on in: The Blue Worm (1405 Airways, 458-1733), which opened earlier this year, now features live music on Friday and Saturday nights. The club -- a cavernous room located just east of the Lamar-Airways Shopping Center -- hosts The Universal Players (anchored by brothers James and Harold Bonner) on Fridays, while local faves The Fieldstones hold down the Saturday slot. Although the atmosphere at the Blue Worm is still gelling, fans of the old Green's Lounge scene (Wilroy Sanders' South Memphis hotspot, which burned down several years ago) are sure to dig the laid-back vibe. And yes, Sanders -- who occasionally sings with the Fieldstones -- is a mainstay at the Blue Worm, which also features vocalist Country Girl, plenty of cold beer, and a full menu of late-night food.
"Green's Lounge crosses my mind every now and then, but the Blue Worm is all right!" So enthuses Wordie Perkins, the Fieldstones' longtime guitarist, who has been playing in area clubs for 45 years. Since bassist Lois Brown died last year and other band members -- including keyboardist Bobby Carnes -- have been sidelined with health problems, Perkins is the last remaining original member of the soul-blues group.
But things are looking up for Perkins and his band. Last week, the Fieldstones recorded a new theme song for the Memphis RiverKings; the instrumental tune was cut by James Lott at Sun Studio. While Gary Saunders, the RiverKings' VP, came up with the concept for a blues-themed fight song, Perkins penned the tune. "I just put it together for 'em," he says modestly. "There ain't no singing. We just shout 'the RiverKings!' over the break." Meanwhile, look for the Fieldstones' long-awaited second album, Mud Island Blues (recorded by the U of M's David Evans for his High Water imprint more than a decade ago) to hit stores when local label Inside Sounds releases it later this year.
Down in Mississippi: With the opening of the Burnside Blues Café in Holly Springs, Duwayne Burnside, son of hill-country bluesman R.L. Burnside, is continuing in the family's juke-joint tradition. R.L., who once owned a club in Independence, Mississippi, played regularly at the late Junior Kimbrough's juke, Junior's Place; more recently, Duwayne operated clubs in Chulahoma and Memphis.
Kenny Brown and Cedric Burnside played the café's opening last weekend, alongside Duwayne and Greenwood, Mississippi guitarist T-Model Ford. Luther and Cody Dickinson of The North Mississippi Allstars also stopped by to wish Duwayne -- who played rhythm guitar with their group for the last few years -- good luck. "We didn't fire Duwayne, and he didn't officially quit," says Luther. "When we went to Europe last month, he decided to stay home. Opening a club is the perfect thing for him to do."
"I'm just doing my own thing now with my own band," adds Duwayne. The Burnside Blues Café -- located 30 miles southeast of Memphis at the intersection of U.S. Highway 78 and Mississippi Highway 7 -- is open seven days a week, with live music on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For more information, go to JukeJointMusic.com.
Burnside's departure from the Allstars is hardly slowing down the Dickinson brothers (or bassist Chris Chew). The band has a new six-song EP, Instores & Outtakes. Here's the catch: It's only available via the band's live shows or at a handful of retail stores (locally, you can buy it at Cat's Music). Fans won't want to miss the limited-edition disc, which includes covers of The Rolling Stones' "Stray Cat Blues," The Band's "The Weight," and The Replacements' "Skyway," alongside acoustic versions of Allstars tunes like "Eyes" and Junior Kimbrough's "Meet Me in the City."
"After Cody and I co-produced Polaris, we wanted to let Dad [producer Jim Dickinson] go all out on these tracks," explains Luther. "We cut the covers in our barn [Zebra Ranch], then did the acoustic songs at Ardent." More recently, the Allstars entered Sam Phillips' Recording Studio, where they cut 16 demos for their upcoming release, Electric Blue Watermelon. "It's full-on Mississippi rock-and-roll," Luther says, "the most creative place we've ever been."
Beatles Invade Memphis: The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is exhibiting never-before-published photos of The Beatles, taken by Bill Epperidge in 1964. The museum hosts an opening reception, 6-8 p.m., on Saturday, June 12th. At Royal Recording Studio, around the corner from Stax, producer Willie Mitchell has his own memories of the Fab Four, who used Royal as a practice space before going on tour with Bill Black's Combo. "Man, we had a big party that day," Mitchell remembers. "They went around the corner to Brady and Lil's restaurant and bought up all the barbecue." n