INDIANOLA, Miss. – An artist who felt a strong connection to B.B. King—and whose guitar skills King greatly admired—will be the headliner for the grand reopening of Indianola’s historic Club Ebony on June 1-3, 2023. Susan Tedeschi
and her husband, Derek Trucks,
also performed in 2021 at the opening of the B.B. King Museum and Interpretive Center’s Expansion and Memorial Courtyard to pay homage to one of their music mentors.
This nightclub that cemented Indianola as a major entertainment hub in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s has undergone a complete renovation and will be ready to welcome visitors and musicians back after being closed for repair for more than a year. As a stop on the “Chitlin’ Circuit,” Club Ebony had legendary acts including Ray Charles, Count Basie, Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Albert King, James Brown, Ike Turner, Howlin’ Wolf, Tyrone Davis, Bobby Rush and many more. It was also the place where B.B. King played to standing-room-only crowds after his popular annual homecoming concerts in Indianola.
King bought the club in 2008 after the retirement of Mary Shepard, its previous owner. In 2012, he donated it to the museum that bears his name, hoping that its history could be preserved and that it could add an authentic extension to the exhibits as well as offer another much-needed music venue.
Planned events at Club Ebony
include a ribbon cutting on June 1st at 10 a.m., with the Big Time Rhythm & Blues Band performing that evening at 7 p.m. On Friday, June 2nd, The Neal Brothers (Lil Ray and Kenny Neal) and Mr. Sipp will take the stage at 7 p.m. The Neal Brothers honed their craft in Louisiana, hanging around the likes of Buddy Guy and Harpo Slim. Mr. Sipp is a Mississippi native who was also influenced by B.B. King, taking up guitar at age six. He has been the winner of the International Blues Challenge, the Bobby Rush Entertainer of the Year award and BMA’s Best New Artist Album. On Saturday, June 3rd, Tony Coleman’s Silent Partners Band will open and play a few numbers with Susan Tedeschi. The Silent Partners’ individual band members have resumes of band stints with B.B. King, Albert King, Bobby Blue Bland, Johnnie Taylor, Otis Clay, Denise LaSalle and a host of other blues heavyweights.
Tedeschi is a multiple GRAMMY® Award nominee for Best Contemporary Blues Album and GRAMMY winner for Best Blues Album in 2012 with Tedeschi Trucks Band. In 2014, she won the Blues Music Award for Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year. Tedeschi had an early introduction to blues, listening to the music of Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins. She began playing guitar and eventually opened for King, Buddy Guy and other blues legends.
In 2016, Tedeschi, along with Trucks and other acclaimed guitarists, performed at “Icon: The Life and Legacy of B.B. King” at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. They also performed with King in 2010 at Eric Clapton’s Guitar Crossroads Festival in Illinois, in 2011 at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and in 2012 at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado.
“We are so excited about being able to not only save Club Ebony, but to bring it back in a manner that preserves its “Chitlin’ Circuit” heritage, but blends all the conveniences of a modern club. We have made the club fully ADA compliant and added interpretive elements that outline the club’s history and all the great performers who once graced the stage,” said B.B. King Museum Director Malika Polk-Lee.
Robert Terrell, the museum’s deputy director said, “I think guests will really be impressed with the club. We have put the stage back in its original location on the west end of the building and have added a sound booth to provide a better experience for artists and patrons alike. We added additional exits and have installed a complete sprinkler system to ensure the safety of our guests. There’s a lot of history here, and we are excited about sharing it.”
Tickets for the shows are available on EventBrite.