Folks throughout the world know Leland, Mississippi, as the hometown of Jim Henson, the Muppet man. I guess that's why some of the white folks in Leland couldn't believe that I--a white man--wanted to visit Boss Hall's juke joint instead of the Jim Henson Museum. "You gonna git yore ass shot off," a white man told me.
When I finally found Boss Hall's, I didn't get shot, of course, and I had a grand time. Mr. W.C. "Boss" Hall turned out to be a highly intelligent man. I had a grand time just talking to him. In these two pictures, that's him standing in front of his juke joint. To me, it looks like something out of a wild wild west movie. Take the air conditioners out of the windows, tie a horse to a post, put a cowboy hat on Boss's head, and those pictures are straight out of 1860.
I got there about 3 or 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon just as Boss Hall opened the juke joint. There were no customers, so we sat out under the awning in front and talked while he cooked his dinner on a charcoal grill. While his steak sizzled, we solved the problems of the Delta.
Bluesmen Lil' Bill Wallace and Eddie Cusic live in Leland, and sometimes on Sunday afternoons they make the short jaunt over to Boss Hall's and play a few sets. Eddie "Q"--as the local folks call him--just returned from Washington, D.C., where he played at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
The next time you're in Leland and the museum is closed, drive on over to Boss Hall's and have an intelligent conversation and maybe listen to some blues. Be sure to print out the above map so you won't have to ask any white folks for directions.