What do you do when a new friend from Spain wants to experience some real North Florida downhome culture?
Take her zydeco dancing at Bradfordville Blues Club, that’s what!
And that’s just what I did with a posse of pals a couple of weekends ago, when our friend Amanda, who grew up in Tallahassee, was visiting from Mallorca, where she lives now. She had brought her friend Lucia and wanted to introduce her to la dolce vita a la Tallahassee.
Lucky for us, JB’s ZydecoZoo was playing at Bradfordville Blues Club that Friday night. It was a win-win – zydeco dance party at an authentic juke joint. And it turned out to be, in Lucia’s words, “the best!”
A word about Bradfordville Blues Club – it’s been a juke joint forever and was a staple on the Chitlin Circuit, a stop for all the blues and R&B musicians playing every little roadhouse from here to the Mississippi Delta and beyond. It’s not much to look at – a concrete block box situated beneath some impressive patriarch oaks dripping with Spanish moss. It’s adorned with strings of lights, there’s a perpetual bonfire burning outside, you can purchase some damned fine fried catfish if all the dancing works up an appetite, and you’ll meet a cross-section of Tallahassee folks who will become your best friends if you go more than once.
The night we went, we were glad we had made reservations – the joint was packed and jumpin’ as JB worked the squeezebox and the rest of band kept the zydeco rhythms hot and happening. Lucia got right out there on the dance floor and made herself at home – as did we all.
As usual, it was a visual as well as an aural feast – there was the parade through the club led by rubboard virtuoso Keith McCraw, with ladies hoisting parasols and waving hankies, there was some inspired and wonderful zydeco two-steppin’, and there was a whole lotta photo-snappin’ goin’ on inside and outside the club.
It made me wonder why it had been so long since I had visited the BBC. The folks are so friendly, the music so good, the vibe so perfect – I will be back very soon, to catch some good ol’ gut-bucket blues and some hot contemporary blues and some tail-feather-shakin’ R&B and, yes, some more zydeco.
Y’all come on down – you may walk in a stranger, as Lucia did, but you will leave a fan and friend for life.