Legendary, Longstanding Juke Joint Shut Down…UPDATED

The longstanding tin-roof garage party that's been a staple of the community and a famous destination for blues fans at large for decades was shut down by police last night.
T-Model Ford and "Gip" Gipson (Photo by James Dudley)
T-Model Ford and Henry “Gip” Gipson (Photo by James Dudley)

(BESSEMER, AL) -The longstanding Alabama staple, Gip’s Juke Joint was shut down by Bessemer police on Saturday. The tin-roofed garage party that has been going on every Saturday night for decades has been a landmark of the blues community at large.

In a recent statement, Bessemer Deputy Police Chief Mike Roper said it was an issue of running an illegal business, but he refused to comment further. He said more information might be released Monday.

According to a post on the Gip’s Place Facebook page, police arrived at the lounge at 10:15 p.m. Saturday to end the backyard blues parties hosted by Henry “Gip” Gipson. “Of course, Gip, is very upset over the actions”, his official statement read, “that the city he calls home and has heavily supported has taken this action against him.”

Gip and company have urged residents of Bessemer and nearby areas to attend the Bessemer City Council meeting Tuesday night at Bessemer City Hall to express their opinion on the matter.

Blues fans worldwide can write Torraine Norris, the assistant to Bessemer Mayor, Kenneth Gulley at [email protected], or write to the city hall at 1800 3rd Avenue North Bessemer, Alabama 35020. For more information, contact (205) 913-2941 / [email protected]

Gip’s Juke Joint Official Website

UPDATE: The City of Bessemer has released this statement regarding Gip’s:

The establishment has caused quite a bit of problems for the homeowners who are neighbors of Mr. Gipson. Many of these homeowners are elderly.

We have received multiple calls from homeowners over the last several months who say loud music from Gip’s Place has inhibited their ability to sleep.

Several residents even complained of seeing people relieving themselves in yards and along the roadway. Others complained to us of traffic congestion and litter.

We have continuously appealed to Mr. Gipson and his associates to acquire the proper zoning and licensing. We also explained our willingness to work with him to resolve any matters as they pertain to meeting city legal requirements.

Unfortunately, our appeals were not met with the proper response. We feel it is necessary to close the establishment to ensure that the rights and wishes of the homeowners are being respected.

We are aware of the popularity of Mr. Gipson and his establishment, but we must balance whatever fame his establishment has accumulated with the rights of Mr. Gipson’s neighbors. We also can not allow Mr. Gipson to operate outside of our laws while requiring other businesses within our city to operate by the same laws.

Should Mr. Gipson and his associates wish to take the necessary steps to re-open his establishment, the Mayor’s Office and the employees of City Hall are willing to work with them, as we do with other businesses. This would include the process of securing the necessary zoning through our various zoning boards, all the necessary licensing to open lawfully or by finding a new location within our city more suitable for such activities.

Until such time, we must respect the rights of the homeowners and ask Mr. Gipson to remain closed.


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