The railroad tracks shown on this map are no longer there. Also, when you're headed south on Hwy 65 (toward Natchez, MS) and looking for Bayou Drive, it's very hard to see because of trees.
To learn more about Ferriday, Louisiana, I recommend a well-written book by Elaine Dundy and titled--what else?--Ferriday, Louisiana.
Update July 5, 2005: ZZ's is closed.Ferriday, Louisiana, is the hometown of Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart. See Barroom Tale #7 for some pictures of the spot where Haney's Big House stood. That was the juke joint where Jerry Lee listened at the back door and learned the blues and rock ‘n' roll.
The spot for the blues in Ferriday is now ZZ's, owned by an attractive lady named ZZ Dunmore. Her husband, Maurice, manages Ferriday's Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet which is located exactly beneath the red star in the above map. So if you get lost, stop for some chicken and ask directions to the blues outlet exactly beneath the yellow spot.
Here's the front of ZZ's. That's ZZ Dunmore on the left and Herbert Williams from the Disco 86 in Waterproof on the right.
The front door of ZZ's is on the side of the building, just beyond the right edge of the photo. When I took this photo I was standing in the middle of Bayou Drive, a narrow and winding street. A few steps backward, and I would have tripped over the guardrail and went for an unexpected swim in the bayou.
ZZ is mad at me because I didn't give her time to move that garbage sack filled with beer cans.
The pool table is behind her, and beyond the pool table is the bandstand and dance stage. They shoot pool a little differently at ZZ's. If you lose the game, you don't just walk away from the table like you do in most places. You rack the balls for the next player. Also, the only pocket you call is for the 8-ball. If you hit one of your balls first with the cue-ball and any one of your balls goes in a pocket, you keep shooting. A game costs 50¢.
ZZ's has one hell of a juke box and sound system. Think about this: B.B. King singing his first big hit, "Three O'clock in the Morning." Imagine that music at about 200 watts. Well, that was exactly what was happening the moment I snapped this photo of ZZ Dunmore.
I could not watch the football game for listening to the awesome music and asking questions about the music to ZZ and to Carolina Henderson, the combination cook and old-blues-song expert. I only thought I knew a lot of old blues songs. Y'all, I'd never heard half of the songs that played that Sunday afternoon in ZZ's at about 200 watts. We listened to B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, Little Milton, Elmore James, Lightnin' Hopkins, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Little Walter and God-only-knows-who-else. I think I went up a notch in Carolina's estimation because I knew both the artists and titles of Elmore James's "Whose Muddy Shoes?" and Little Walter's "Don't Need No Horse."
Y'all, what an awesome afternoon I spent in ZZ's. Now I ask you: What kind of music plays where you watch Sunday afternoon football games?
Take your camera to ZZ's. The walls are decorated with sprayed-on polka dots and nailed-on 45rpm records. In the background of this photo you can see some polka dots on the pool-cue rack. This fine fellow is Bernard Nicks, ZZ's over-worked and underpaid cleanup man. I bought him a tall-boy Bud for the privilege of taking his picture.
Yes, he's dancing with his cleanup bucket. You'd dance with a bucket too if that's all you had in your arms and Jimmy Reed was singing "Let It Roll" at 200 watts.
You got me run, hide, peep, hide, anyway you want me
Let it roll!
You got me doing what you want to
Baby what you want me to do.
That's probably Bernard's theme song.
Most weekends ZZ's hosts a DJ, unfortunately. But ZZ's hosts local blues bands in the fall and winter, usually Earl Duke, whom I haven't heard, or a cool-looking, great-sounding group named Sir K and the Blues Machine. When I saw them, Sir K, a huge black man, wore a white Panama hat, white tuxedo, white gloves and white patent leather shoes.
This is a close-up shot of the door to the storeroom behind ZZ's bar. Clockwise from the top left you see Little Milton, Earl Duke on the poster, Sir K, the Brotherhood Connection, and Poonnanny. The next time someone tells you that the blues is dead in the Delta, show them this picture and tell them it was taken on August 31, 1997.
I wish I had a poster of this picture minus the flashbulb glare.
Can y'all read the words inscribed on the walls? They say Z.Z.'s Lounge. The house of LOVE. If the impossible happens and I fall in love again, we're headed straight to Ferriday and that dance stage.
A few days ago I had a long and enjoyable talk with Dr. Johnny Cox, the pastor of a little African-American church in Coushatta, Louisiana. We were talking about the similarities between gospel music and the blues, about the emotions that filled us when we listened to both kinds of music. "A good, slow blues song fills me with emotion," I told the good doctor/reverend. "It makes me wish I was in love. It makes me want to grab the woman I love and hold her tight and dance with her."
So, therefore, at least to me, to love the blues is to love love. The walls of ZZ's dance stage are aptly inscribed.
Below are some photos taken at ZZ's on Sunday, November 15, 1998. Click on each photo for a full-size version. Use your browser's "Back" button to return.
To learn about the relationship between religion and devil music and about Jerry Lee Lewis and his cousins Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart, read:|
by Elaine Dundy
|Click on the icon and go to the book's|
page at Amazon.com