Thursday, August 25, 2011 (Holly Springs, MS)—Bikers’ Night Out in Blues Alley is Holly Springs’ weekly bike night event. It promotes businesses in the historic town square, presents modern Hill Country blues to a wider audience, and gives bikers in north central Mississippi someplace close to home to socialize on summer nights.
These are all worthy goals, which makes it harder for me to be honest about my disappointment with my visit.
According to the Rust College Rustorian, the event began in the summer of 2010, with 100 visitors (not all on motorcycle) on the first night in late July, and reaching approximately 1,000 visitors on the final night in late September.
This second year, the event started a couple weeks earlier in July, and has featured some of the Hill Country’s up-and-coming blues artists, including Duwayne Burnside, Lightin’ Malcolm and Cameron Kimbrough.
With August evenings having more moderate weather, my buddy Terry and I decided to make the 45-mile trip down to check out the scene.
It was…kinda dead.
One side of the square around the courthouse square was closed off for bike parking, and there were wagons selling corn dogs, snow cones, funnel cakes, and the like. A handful of Harley-style cruisers were parked in the middle of the street.
A stage was set up in Blues Alley (Center Street), and people were standing looking at the empty stage while hip hop and R&B music played. I suppose they were looking at the D.J., but the music was not blues, and there was nothing much to see.
Over on the other side of the square is J.B.’s, a restaurant with a bar next door. A dozen-plus Harleys were parked in front and some folks were sitting at a table on the sidewalk.
Our visit to J.B.’s was lackluster. Apparently, the regulars out front knew each other, but nobody spoke to us as we filtered through to the restaurant. (Typical for Harley folk, really.) Inside, it was seat-yourself-after-standing-around service.
The food was inexpensive, but unmemorable.
Terry ordered one of the evening’s specials, applewood-smoked bacon sliders. They were actually BLTs, no burger in the “slider”, mostly just ciabatta-style bun.
I had the patty melt, which was dry and flavorless. How you can put ground beef, onions and cheese on pumpernickel bread and end up with something that bland is beyond me. It made me really miss the moist, rich flavor of the patty melts at the Hi-Tone.
Service was mostly inattentive, with only one waitress working the half-dozen tables. She never asked if I wanted a second beer or desert, and I never asked either.
After dinner, we went back to our bikes to find we were still the only non-cruisers parked on the square and there was still no live music, although people were still looking at the stage like there was something to see.
So, without further ado, we saddled up and headed home. A woman did give us a faint “y’all be careful” as we headed out, the first sign of friendliness we got all evening.
The best part of the evening was the ride down (we saw a doe and her fawn grazing near the road) and the ride back (comfortably cool, but bug-splattered).
I’ll give bike night in Holly Springs another try if there’s someone worth seeing, but otherwise, I’d consider it an event for locals only.
For more about the historical marker in this picture, see my article at Postings.