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Juke Joints


Kodachrome The Blues Photography of Macon’s Adam Smith


& by Michael Buffalo Smith


Born is the same town that gave us Little Richard, Otis Redding and The Allman Brothers Band, Adam Smith grew up in Macon, Georgia listening to all sorts of good music. He had a keen interest in the visual aspects of live performances, which he began to chronicle on film. Then he discovered the blues.


“I thought I knew what blues music was,” Adam told Kudzoo. “While in a photogra- phy class at Ole Miss under my teacher Tom Rankin I heard about a Juke Joint called Junior Kimbrough's in Chulahoma, Mississippi. It was only open on Sunday nights. I drove out there with a couple of friends one night. It was about thirty minutes outside of Oxford. Hard to find if you did


not know what you were looking for. I stepped through those heavy wooden doors into a 95 degree room of sweat, cold beer, white lightning, dancing, and the music of Junior Kimbrough. I will never forget that night. I soaked it all in. The energy in the room the raw power was over- whelming. I was literally brought to tears. I remember thinking right then, if I could ever


reply. R.L., T Model and Paul "Wine" Jones - man they were all characters.”


One of the first times Smith saw his work pub- lished was when Bruce Watson and Amos Harvey of Fat Possum records contacted him early in his career.


“They asked me if they could use my images for the cover and inside jacket of Junior


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capture the energy and the feeling in that room with a camera that that was what I was destined to do. Suddenly it became so clear. It was my destiny.”


Adam was on a quest to capture the true essence of Delta Blues on film. One of the true legends of the genre that he photographed was the late R. L. Burnside.


“I had Met R.L. a time or two at Junior's Juke Joint when he would make an appearance. I mean we were not on a first name basis I don't think, but he recognized my face. R.L. was pretty approachable if you new the right channels. A pocket full of White Lightning always helped. I was so driven to document the music of the Hill Country of Mississippi and Delta that I would call up and usually talked to his wife for a minute and told her I wanted to come hang out for a while. R.L. was always welcoming I would drive out usually with a friend and hang out at his house with a 12- pack of cold beer. R.L. always had the best one liners. "How you doing R.L.?” I would ask. "Hangin' like a Dirty Shirt!" he would


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