Although Morgan Freeman may get top billing here, it is the Summers Hotel and the Subway Lounge nestled in its brick foundation that is truly the star of “Last of the Mississippi Jukes.”
Originally released in 2003, “Last of the Mississippi Jukes” centers around one famous juke joint in Jackson, Mississippi, which has fallen on hard times. The Subway Lounge has been one of the hottest blues clubs in the region with a pair of rotating house bands with local and national blues talent coming in to rock the night away. The Subway Lounge is more than just another legendary juke joint of the Delta however. The bar is based in the basement of the historic Summers Hotel, which has been standing since the 1940s and was the only black-owned hotel in Mississippi. Over the decades black entertainers, politicians, civil rights activist and other celebrities would often come to Jackson to stay at the Summer’s Hotel because it was the only place which would allow black travelers.
Although the Subway Lounge kept packing in the fans for down home Delta Blues, the 70-year old building was falling apart. In 2003, there were designs to renovate the club to bring it up to code and make it safer, but after repairs began it was determined the building was too far gone. In 2005, owner Jimmy King decided to pull the plug on the historic building and tear it completely down. However, a historic plaque has been put in the place of the building to remember its historic value. Word has it, Jimmy King reopened the Subway Lounge at a different location, but surely it can’t hold the history his previous club did.
Now for Morgan Freeman. He plays a bit part in the beginning of this Robert Mugge documentary. He, along with business partner/attorney Bill Luckett own their own juke joint – the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale Mississippi, the heart of the Delta. Freeman, who is a big supporter of the blues lives in Mississippi and opened up the club with Luckett to keep the juke joint vibe around. Freeman and Luckett have no ties to the Subway Lounge, or the Summers Hotel, but the love of the old style blues binds them all.