- 930 N. Congress St., Jackson, MS, 39202
- Overall User Rating:
- (2 ratings)
- Mon.-Sat. 5 p.m.-until
- Official Web Site:
When—and at this point it's become an if—the Farish Street revitilization comes to fruition, Jackson should be a true destination for blues lovers.
At the moment though, there's not a overabundance of choices in town for catching authentic live blues.
Thank goodness, then, for the 930 Blues Café.
Since opening its doors in 2002, the 930 has been dedicated to bringing the total blues experience to Jackson. Owned by local attorney Isaac Byrd—himself a Delta native with a love of all things blues—the 930 is the classiest and most authentic Mississippi blues experience you can get in the state without making the drive all the way up Highway 49 to Clarksdale.
The drinks: With a full bar, they're sure to be serving up something to suit you. Beer drinkers aren't quite so lucky—they only serve Budweiser, Bud Light, Corona and Heineken, but hey, that's just part of the true down-home juke joint experience. There's something inherently wrong with a blues club that serves something like, say, Samuel Adams, don't you think?
The decor: The 930 is located inside a two-story house built in 1903 at where else, but 930 Congress Street, right in the middle of one of Jackson's oldest and most historic residential neighborhoods. Because it's in a house, you feel like you're stepping into a house party, and the warm and inviting atmosphere just reinforces that feeling.
Soon you're greeted by the amazing collection of authentic Delta folk art, wall murals, rare photos, past flyers and more, that give the place a lived-in, vibrant atmosphere, and make it almost like a mini-museum of Mississippi blues. Downstairs you'll find the kitchen, bathrooms and the dining rooms, where you can take a breather from the music.
Heading upstairs to the bar and stage area where they get down to the nitty gritty, the place opens up into a spacious but intimate bar room, with a second-story outdoor porch for mingling.
In the warmer summer months, they open the party up to their spacious outdoor patio, and they sometimes even have bands play outdoors to make for a bodacious block party.
The crowd: The 930 is all about the blues—that's why their admittedly pricey $10 cover on Friday and Saturday nights guarantees that they draw a crowd that is there for the love of music. You'll meet blues aficionados, folks who love to dance, even local musicians. It's also frequented by college students from Millsaps and Belhaven, and just generally folks who like to have a good time.
The service: Yeah, I just mentioned a $10 cover, but you're getting your money's worth for the service alone—and that's not to mention the music, even. 930's staff is dedicated to taking care of you and showing you the best time you can possibly have. Their bartenders are jovial and attentive, and they even have waitresses who can take your order for you so you don't even have to leave your table for a drink, or maybe a bite to eat from their short-order kitchen.
The sounds: Now here's the bread-and-butter of the 930—and you can't talk about their music without first and foremost mentioning "Miss Sweetheart," Jackie Bell. This local blues songstress performs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and knows how to get the party started like no other. She can even teach clueless frat boys how to dance.
Usually joining her is the house band, Norman Clark and the Smoke Stack Lightning Band. The quintessential house band, Norman and the boys can play all the blues classics as well as some of the best R&B and soul of all time. I bet you can't even stump them with a request, unless of course it's Pat Boone or Lawrence Welk or something like that that ain't got an ounce of soul.
Friday and Saturday nights are when the 930 brings out the big guns, usually featuring a well-known artist who comes to town for a two-night stand. They've had big names like the late Sam Myers, Paul "Wine" Jones, Bill Morganfield, Super Chikan, Michael Burks, Willie Horton, David Lee Durham, Chick Willis and many others from the Delta and beyond, as well as R&B stars like Rick Lawson.
Most all of Jackson's own blues royalty have performed there, including Eddie Cotton, Bobby Rush, Dorothy Moore, Grady Champion, King Edward, The Houserockers, Bernard Jenkins and many, many more.
The food: The 930 opens its short-order kitchen when the club is rocking and they serve up Delta-style barbecue ribs, fried catfish and other southern delicacies, and you can grab something late if hunger hits you while you're getting down on the dance floor. Since the club is also a popular choice for private parties, they also cater events.
The damage: Quality doesn't come cheap, and that's true of the 930 Blues Café. As I've said, it's a $10 cover on Friday and Saturday nights, and it's $5 for Thursday and most other events. Their drinks prices don't reflect the premium service they offer however, with beers going for the standard $3 and mixed drinks hovering around $5. Food is generally around $10. If you're addicted to your check card and don't carry cash, be forewarned—they've got a $20 minimum to run a tab, so bring some dough if you're wanting to have a two-drink night.