Deep in the Florida countryside, where moss-choked oak trees slump under the weight of time and chirping crickets echo through the night, the history of blues music lives on.
Every weekend, the Bradfordville Blues Club (also known as CC’s) rekindles the blues flame and serves up a lifeline to the bygone era of southern juke joints.
The Club’s driveway, a long, dark, dirt track so bumpy it’ll make you cringe every time the bottom of your car grinds against the road, leads to this blues mecca.
According to club lore, musicians like B.B. King, Ray Charles and Chuck Berry performed at the Club.
Years ago, in a field next to the Club, players from the C.C. Saints, a Negro league baseball team (and the Club’s original namesake) used to compete. After finishing a game, they’d swap gloves and bats for guitars and head to the Club for jam sessions.
The baseball field is gone, replaced by crops, but the music lives on.
Painted portraits of blues greats, many of whom performed at the club – including Clarence Carter and Percy Sledge – cover its cinder-block walls and tables and add a smiling face to the already friendly vibe.
As the audience shuffles to their tables and a tall waitress with long black hair and tattoos takes their orders, the musicians tune up on stage: a guitar, bass, drummer, keyboardist.
Joey Gilmore, a Ft. Lauderdale-based guitarist, welcomes the audience and the music begins. Mournful howls and twisting guitar chords fill the club as the band feeds off each other’s riffs. Throughout the first set, singers and guitarists in the audience step on stage and jam with the band.
Dottie Kelly, a singer with a meaty, gut-punching voice takes the microphone and belts out blues standards while transfixing the audience.
The energy builds as the jams intensify and the audience, now dancing only a few feet from the low-slung stage, breathe in every note.
Set break. The band welcomes everyone outside to the fire pit and bbq shed for some fried chicken or fish and some good old deep-south, home-style cooking.
And with that, the story continues in Part 2. Stay Tuned.
Be sure to click on the images below to see them full size.