Most of my day was filled with the blues...working diligently on my Mississippi Blues Trail case study. I recently watched the documentary, Last of the Mississippi Jukes for research and was captivated by the story of the legendary Subway Lounge.
This jazz and blues club was located in the basement of the Summers Hotel in Jackson, Mississippi. The hotel was established in 1944 and during segregation, it was one of two hotels in the city where African Americans were allowed lodging. The hotel was popular among traveling musicians like James Brown, Nat King Cole, and Hank Ballard as well as some of the original Freedom Riders.
From what I could see in the documentary, it looked like the real thing: tiny, dark, full of smoke, no stage, and lots of good music. They sold buckets of beer and the patented "blues dogs" from the house next door. The "blues dog" is a hot, smoked sausage topped with grilled onions, mustard, and chili if you want and a staple of a Subway Lounge experience. Looked pretty awesome to me.
The Subway Lounge had been open since the 1960s, starting out as a jazz club primarily, then moving into a late-night blues club. Unfortunately, the Summers Hotel building that housed the Subway had been in poor condition for years and it was determined during the filming of the documentary, that it should be demolished. As filming continued, the film captured the fundraising efforts of owner Jimmy King and other community members as they struggled to save the building. But despite their valiant effort, the hotel and Subway Lounge were demolished in 2004. Currently there is a Mississippi Blues Trail marker at the site of the iconic blues club and historic hotel.
In recent years, it has been said that the Subway Lounge will reopen on Farish Street in downtown Jackson, as part of a arts-district redevelopment project. Found another bloggers post about the development project: The light of a new day on Farish Street. Hopefully, the developer will be able to hit the most recent "opening" date of summer 2012. Although it probably won't have the same flavor, I would still go check out the new Subway Lounge.
More Subway Lounge photos