Gip's Place, Bessemer, alabama

Gip’s Place, Bessemer, alabama

Owner Henry Gipson (aka Mr. Gip) had his residence, known as Gip’s Place for over 60 years for “house parties” that are as close to a good ol’ juke joint that Alabama has left was closed down on May 4th, 2013, for not having the proper business license by Bessemer Police.

Debbie Bond at Mando Blues, photo - Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond at Mando Blues, photo – Brad Hardisty

The residence was never intended to be a business since Gip doesn’t serve food or drink and is a BYOB place where blues lovers can enjoy regional blues masters like Debbie Bond as well as national performers such as Bobby Rush jam in front of a Birmingham area get together.

Opened in 1952, Gip’s Place was considered a “house party” and not a business and was considered a bright spot on the Bessemer, Alabama map.

There is a meeting today, Tuesday May 7th at 6PM before the Bessemer City Council regarding the matter. Please be there, if you can attend. For further information contact Mayor Kenneth Gulley’s Assistant by email : mayorasst@bessemeral.org.

If you would like to find out how you can support Henry Gipson and Gip’s Place contact Cindi McGee at cindig34@hotmail.com.

A poll being conducted on al.org shows that an overwhelming 64% want Gip to be left alone by the city of Bessemer.

The closing of one of the last of Alabama’s true juke joints is creating international media attention.

Feel free to leave comments here, if you like. I will forward comments to those involved in supporting Henry Gipson and his privately owned residence. I am in contact, right now, with those involved in showing support in Alabama I will post updates when available here on The Nashville Bridge.

Feel free to link this article to your Facebook page or re-blog and get the word out. This is all about property rights, liberty and pursuit of the Blues! Be in Bessemer, Alabama by 6Pm if you can.

Blues Power!

Reports from Bessemer City Council Meeting regarding the closing of Blues Hall of Fame Member Gip Gipson’s Juke Joint: The following was a live text feed from inside the council meeting last night:

 6:59PM The City Council will not even schedule the issue on the agenda. They claim they needed a weeks notice – though they shut down Gip’s on Saturday.

7:01 PM One person will be allowed to speak at the end of the meeting for 3 minutes.

7:09 PM The Circle X Film Group that is in the process of producing a documentary film on Gip’s is in the council hall filming for the doc. 

7:10PM Many wouldn’t sign the film release. They will be blocked out. The city council is sitting here recognizing the achievements in poetry writing of the local kids… 

7:15 PM All local news outlets are providing coverage.

7:24 PM Gip just arrived to a round of applause. 

 A single council member suggests that Gip’s should be moved out of the neighborhood and provided a venue near other city attractions.  There is no response from any other council member.  The Council President says that moving doesn’t matter because that involves another process and the problem is that Gip is operating an illegal business. 

7:58 PM Gip speaks before the council: States that he is going to do what he is going to do and there’s not going to be a license and he’s not going to move. 

Other members of the community are allowed to speak for three min each.

8:05 PM All speakers, community members, neighbors are in support.  Much is said about the heritage that needs to be preserved and the failure of the leadership of City of Bessemer to have a vision that upholds the traditions of the community and the wider heritage of American music history.

People speak of the failure of the city to do anything related to crime, abandoned houses and other blight in the same area yet they are singling out a man that gives back to his community through charitable work and has brought pride and recognition to the town.  That until the City shut down Gip’s they featured his Juke Joint on their website. 

The council president will not allow anymore public comment related to the heritage and unique history of Gip’s.

There has not been a SINGLE person at the meeting who has raised any complaint or spoken against Gip.

 8:07 PM Reporter from Italy is speaking up. The Council President tries to have her sit down, she moves to the mic anyway and describes how people in Italy see the value of preserving their cultural treasures and she cannot fathom why the city cannot see what they are doing is the destruction of American heritage.  She says that Gip’s Place is like nowhere else in the world and an incredible example of Southern culture. 

8:10 PM The city council pres is saying no more public comment. Many people are still raising their hands to be recognized.  Now the Mayor is saying that no one is above the law and that he receives complaints from the neighbors every week about children seeing people urinating in their yards. The mayor is asked where these complainants are and told that there are more neighbors that wish to speak in support of Gip.  They are not recognized.  The Mayor calls the public assembly a mob. The council President tells the police to prepare to clear the room If any one else tries to speak.  He singles out several previously recognized speakers to be removed if they say anything else.

8:12 PM A lady minister stands up and is trying to speak about peacefully working with the city to resolve this issue and the President told her to sit down. He states only the council is allowed to speak. The Police are to remove anyone else who defies the end of public commentary.

The city attorney speaks declaring that all members of the government and the police are required to honor their oaths to enforce the law and no man is above the law.  He states that if the public wishes to change they are welcome to go through the process of changing the law.

8:19 PM – The council motions to adjourn.  They call the meeting to a close. 

Gip after leaving the council building is greeted by news crews, film makers & and the rest of his supporters who could not get into the assembly.  The meeting was filled to capacity. – live text from T. Moreaux, Church of the Last World Singers

There are many questions as to why local city goverment is getting involved when this has been a major pride of the neighborhood since 1952 and at this point unsubstantiated allegations are being pursued regarding neighbor complaints even though many neighbors were in attendance to speak on Gip’s behalf but were not allowed to speak.

Update from 5/11/2013 – Gip did open up last saturday night, but, there were two police roadblocks going in and out of the area with a total of aproximately ten troopers, according to my source, looking for any reason to ticket any patrons going in an out of Gip’s Place. Gip also closed down early at 11 PM. Although there was a police presence that was intimidating patrons of his house party, they did not attmept to shut it down…stay posted. 

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN      thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

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