Fifteen years ago when this club was established by world-famous actor MORGAN FREEMAN, his local business partner and friend, BILL LUCKETT, and Memphis entertainment executive, HOWARD STOVALL, I was dimly aware of this. And occasional news articles kept insisting that Morgan Freeman eschewed the bright lights and big cities in favor of returning to his family ranch not far from Clarksdale for work breaks. Although Clarksdale was well known to blues aficionados as the home of icons like Pinetop Perkins, Sam Cooke, Ike Turner, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, et al; Morgan Freeman created his funky-elegant blues club reputation as the center for top blues acts, including a restaurant featuring Southern cooking, comfortable bar, and six apartments upstairs for rent! He kept an apartment for himself to crash when in town. Word was, that he was approachable and just liked to be comfortable in his own creation. In fact, he also decided that he could use a nice restaurant to serve upscale food that was lacking in town, so MADIDI was built a couple blocks away. When I did research for my first visit in 2008, I had hopes of hanging in these spots to meet him…like the rest of music and celebrity fans who eventually visit Clarksdale. Indeed, I even rented his personal apartment for my first two nights, slept in his bed, as I tell people! It was not long before I realized that so many locals whom I met almost immediately, had a connection with him, yet to this day, I still have not met him. Oh, well.
But a lot has changed in town, and in the world since then. Madidi closed a few years ago, much to my regret!! Partner, Bill Luckett, is now Mayor Luckett! And Morgan Freeman continues to be a top media personality; he cannot hang with the un-washed masses as freely anymore! Ground Zero is still very popular with tourists, and it still provides live music on nights that it is open (Wed.-Sat,), and it has become a facility to host many social or musical non-profits for week-end events. I have attended several; performances and management have been up to the task. However, like many of the clubs and restaurants in New Orleans that I once frequented, I do not hang here as much anymore because I am not a fan of corporate structure: purchasing venue wristbands almost to the end of evening, bar staff that seems eternally too busy to recognize my un-served presence in front of them, and the general exuberance of Disneyland-type tourists on crowded evenings. Call me intolerant, but in my old age, I can afford to be discriminating with my time and money. In fairness to them, my conditional enthusiasm has to do more with my fickleness; I DO occasionally see friends of mine perform there and have a lot of fun!!