Early 2013 finds the space free of the 25 years of accumulated debris, rotting structural materials and invasive poison ivy. Removed by hand and wheelbarrow were the entire roof, the dilapidated balcony, a handful of badly deteriorated theater seats and many, many empty liquor bottles. What remains is a sloping concrete floor with a drain, a masonry stage, distressed yet beautiful brick walls, a gorgeous view of the night sky and a fabulous feeling that can only be understood when you stand inside.
In June 2008 I purchased the New Roxy with a partner and in October 2009 I became the sole owner of the New Roxy. At times, the project is overwhelming and seemingly endless, but whenever I stop to look up (and back) I see progress. Working to restore and resurrect the theater is a labor of love for the music, the local culture and for the way the two come together.
We had our ‘grand opening’ in August of 2008 during the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival. For the first time in many years, people were invited to come inside and see what remained. In a rather scrappy but ambitious way, we had live music out – LC Ulmer, Mississippi Rosalee, Davis Coen and others graciously donated their times and talents. We premiered a rare documentary blues film and coordinated with other business for a walking history map of the New World neighborhood. Filming for a documentary recording the history of the New Roxy began that weekend also.
During Juke Joint Festival 2009 we promoted our first scheduled band on the main stage. Ray Cashman and friends played to a small but curious and dedicated crowd of blues fans and locals. We didn’t have enough lighting to in place to even remain open too long past sunset, but the music sounded great and word started to spread about our unique space.
In 2010 we were scheduled to be an official stage for the Sunflower Blues festival but a last minute gully washer rained us out. It was a very disappointing wrap up to a lot of hard work but it pushed us forward to solve the problem and in October of that year a new beautiful roof was built over the stage.
In 2011 we became an official stage for Clarksdale’s Juke Joint Festival and were thrilled to have blues legend Robert Bilbo Walker light up the stage. It was a magical night for me and for many people on the finally crowded dance floor.
In the following years we have opened whenever we can featuring a growing list of local, national and international musicians . In addition we have added artist receptions, and live theater to the list of events we have hosted.
Documentation and filming has been ongoing to preserve the history of the theater and the surrounding neighborhood. Restoration and rebuilding projects continue at a slow but steady pace.
|To Past||To Future|