The David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History in the U of A's Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is partnering with The Music Education Initiative to bring The Juke Joint Project: An Exhibit to the Pryor Center on the Downtown Fayetteville Square. The exhibit is open daily from 9 A.M. to to 6 P.M., now into October 2022.
The exhibit is free and open to the public.
The Music Education Initiative was honored to receive a life-size, walk-through replica of a Delta Blues juke joint from the Clinton Presidential Center. The exhibit was designed by Kaki Hockersmith, a highly respected and renowned interior designer from Little Rock, for the 2020 FUSION: Arts & Humanities Arkansas Event, The Mighty Mississippi: HeART and Soul of the Southern Delta. When COVID-19 shut down most venues, the exhibit, which was aptly named "BC's Blues Shack" after Bill Clinton, had been seen by only a few people at that time. This unique situation created an opportunity for The Music Education Initiative to bring this cultural and educational experience to Northwest Arkansas and increase the community's exposure and access to the arts in exciting new ways!
The juke joint will be used as an immersive replica of a traditional gathering and listening environment. Participants are surrounded by the atmosphere in which blues music originated, grew, and thrived, and be inspired to further explore the rich history and roots of this most authentic of American musical art forms. Serving as a teaching and educational tool, the juke joint will utilize original Blues You Can Use (BYCU) programming created by The Music Education Initiative. The intent is to bring historical preservation and understanding of Blues, Soul, and Jazz music, and their importance and influence on music past, present, and future to our community. The exhibit will also be used as a meeting place, a podcast studio ("Tiny Desk" style), and a location for speakers, lectures, films, performances, and parties. In the future, the juke joint may be used as a traveling exhibit to schools, performance halls, and other venues.
The juke joint is expected to initially be located within the CACHE Studios in Bentonville, Arkansas with a more permanent home in Northwest Arkansas to be sought in late 2022. Once the display is officially open, students, educators, musicians, and fans of blues music will all be invited to experience a musical destination like no other in the region.