Q&A with Casey Ladd, assistant manager at Ground Zero Blues Club, authentic Delta Blues experience in Clarksdale, MS

"The impact of blues music on socio-cultural implications is far reaching, touching on themes of emotion, social justice, cultural exchange, community, and artistic expression. It inspires and resonates with people across generations and cultural boundaries."

Ground Zero Blues Club:

Celebrating the Heritage of Blues Music

“Forever playing the blues” ― Bob Kaufman

Clarksdale, Mississippi has long been described as "Ground Zero" for blues aficionados from around the globe. It all started here. The town has been home to musicians that changed the world including: Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Sam Cooke, Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson, WC Handy, Ike Turner, Charlie Musselwhite, Christone 'Kingfish' Ingram, Lucious Spiller, and Anthony 'Big A' Sherrod to name a few. That's why created Ground Zero Blues Club® — to celebrate the area's rich blues heritage and to provide a venue in which it can continue. Ground Zero Blues Club is the place for anyone looking for an authentic Delta Blues experience. Media manager Casey Ladd, says: "Ground Zero’s philosophy revolves around celebrating and preserving the rich heritage of blues music while providing a welcoming space for people of all backgrounds to come together for live entertainment. We seek to preserve the authenticity and integrity of blues music while embracing its evolution and influence on contemporary music. In honoring the roots of blues music, while also fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared passion for the genre, we have become a hub for blues enthusiasts to experience. Our geniality and ability to provide an authentic, immersive experience is what generates such a devoted following among blues music fans."

Ground Zero Blues Club opened in 2001. Owned by Morgan Freeman; Eric Meier; Howard Stovall; and the late Bill Luckett. Ground Zero Blues Club serving up down home blues and southern cooking for 23 years! Located at Blues Alley next door to the Delta Blues Museum in the heart of historic downtown Clarksdale. Casey Ladd, says: "Clarksdale is located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, which is widely regarded as the birthplace of the blues. The area embodies the cultural legacy of the blues, with numerous landmarks, museums, and music venues dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history of the genre. Visitors can immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the blues here in Clarksdale. Many influential blues musicians, including Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker, have roots here, or nearby communities."

Interview by Michael Limnios Photos © by Ground Zero Blues Club

Special Thanks: Sadie Robertson & Tameal Edwards (Ground Zero Blues Club)

How has the music influenced your views of the world? What does the blues mean to you?

Blues music often reflects on life’s struggles, hardships, and injustices, which has deepened my empathy and understanding of the human experience. Additionally, blues’ roots in African American culture has offered me perspectives on resilience, perseverance, and cultural heritage. Blues music inspires introspection and a sense of solidarity with others facing similar challenges. Because of blues music, I have a deeper understanding of the human condition.

Blues means everything to me. I was born in Helena, AR and was introduced to the blues at an early age. I was four, maybe five, the first time I heard the blues. My father and I were leaving the Wonder Bread store in Helena and there was an older man outside playing the harmonica. The sound that came from that mouth harp pulled at me like a siren song and I wanted to hear it all. Thirty years later and still feel this way about blues music.

How do you describe Ground Zero Blues Club’s philosophy and mission? 

Ground Zero’s philosophy revolves around celebrating and preserving the rich heritage of blues music while providing a welcoming space for people of all backgrounds to come together for live entertainment. We seek to preserve the authenticity and integrity of blues music while embracing its evolution and influence on contemporary music. In honoring the roots of blues music, while also fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared passion for the genre, we have become a hub for blues enthusiasts to experience.

"Blues music may not always receive the same level of mainstream attention as other genres, but it still continues to have a loyal following around the world. It also has the potential to cultivate a new generation of fans who appreciate it’s timeless appeal and enduring relevance." (Photos: Casey Ladd, assistant manager at Ground Zero Blues Club & Ground Zero Blues Club® opened in 2001, Clarksdale, MS)

Why do you think that the Ground Zero Blues Club legacy continues to generate such a devoted following?

Our geniality and ability to provide an authentic, immersive experience is what generates such a devoted following among blues music fans.

Are there any specific memories or highlights in Ground Zero Blues Club that you would like to tell us about?

I’ve worked at Ground Zero Blues since 2008. That’s sixteen years, give or take a year or two, worth of memories. There isn’t one specific memory that I’d share over another, to me they are all worth talking about, and it feels like a disservice to share one versus another. One day, maybe I will write a book to honor the memories I’ve made and the unforgettable people I’ve met.

What is the impact of Blues on the socio-cultural implications?

Blues music serves as a powerful means of expressing a wide range of emotions, from sadness and longing to resilience and joy. By providing an outlet for emotional expression, blues music can be cathartic, facilitate healing, and personal growth for both performers and listeners.

Additionally, blues music has a rich and diverse cultural heritage, drawing influences from African American, European, and indigenous musical traditions. Its fusion of different musical styles and cultural elements reflects the unity of diverse communities and promotes cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

More importantly, blues music has a long history of bringing people together, fostering a sense of community and belonging among musicians and audiences alike. Blues festivals, jam sessions, and live performances provide opportunities for people from different walks of life to come together and establish connections that transcend social barriers.

The impact of blues music on socio-cultural implications is far reaching, touching on themes of emotion, social justice, cultural exchange, community, and artistic expression. It inspires and resonates with people across generations and cultural boundaries. 

"Blues music often reflects on life’s struggles, hardships, and injustices, which has deepened my empathy and understanding of the human experience. Additionally, blues’ roots in African American culture has offered me perspectives on resilience, perseverance, and cultural heritage. Blues music inspires introspection and a sense of solidarity with others facing similar challenges. Because of blues music, I have a deeper understanding of the human condition." (Photos: Morgan Freeman with Bill Luckett and management team & James "Super Chikan" Johnson, Ground Zero Blues Club, Clarksdale MS)

How do you want blues music to affect people?

I want blues music to affect everyone in the same way it affects me. When I listen to the blues, not only do I hear it, I feel it.

What were the reasons that made Clarksdale to be the center of Roots Blues research and experiments?

Clarksdale is located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, which is widely regarded as the birthplace of the blues. The area embodies the cultural legacy of the blues, with numerous landmarks, museums, and music venues dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history of the genre. Visitors can immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the blues here in Clarksdale. Many influential blues musicians, including Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker, have roots here, or nearby communities.

Do you think there is an audience for blues music in its current state? Or at least a potential for young people to become future audiences and fans?

Blues music may not always receive the same level of mainstream attention as other genres, but it still continues to have a loyal following around the world. It also has the potential to cultivate a new generation of fans who appreciate it’s timeless appeal and enduring relevance.

Ground Zero Blues Club - Home

(Ground Zero Blues Club is the place for anyone looking for an authentic Delta Blues experience / Anthony 'Big A' Sherrod, Clarksdale, MS / Photos © by Ground Zero Blues Club)

Views: 158

Comments are closed for this blog post

social media

Members

© 2024   Created by Michael Limnios Blues Network.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service