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Junior’s Juke Box

Chulahoma, MS 1996

A juke box filled with blues and R&B tunes glows at the edge of a concrete-slab dance floor at Junior Kimbrough’s juke joint in Chulahoma, MS. Many people think that blues clubs, or “juke joints” are named after the more commonly known “juke box,” when actually the opposite is true. Originally called “jook joints” from the wolof word “joog” meaning “disorderly” or “wicked,” these pleasure houses were places where revelers could escape the confines of polite society to drink, dance, gamble and listen to un-refined music suitable for shaking your “yas-yas-yas”. As coin-operated record-playing devices manufactured by companies such as Wurlitzer, Rockola and Seeburg (called “Seabirds” in the Delta) began replacing live music in these establishments, the music machines became known as “juke boxes,” which carries to the present day. The most popular song on Junior’s juke box was a copy of his song “Keep Your Hand Off Her” that he recorded with his Soul Boy’s Blues Band for the Highwater label in 1982.

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