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Eddie Kirkland Jammin' Out: Guitar legend Eddie Kirkland tears it up at JJs Blues.

True Blue

Real deal blues, down-home digs. Thanks, June.

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor

JJ's Blues
3439 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara 408.243.6441

IN A VALLEY that seems to be reinventing itself willy-nilly from moment to moment, unable to mark itself with a defining culture, incidents of authenticity are few and far between. That's why JJ's Blues is a unique commodity in Santa Clara County. This is the real deal.

Owner June Stanley comes by her blues sensibilities naturally. Her father played guitar in jam sessions with black blues artists in Depression-era Oklahoma where segregation was the law, so she grew up with the music and brought it with her when she moved to the West Coast. Unlike the glitz and tinsel of many Silicon Valley venues, JJ's has a down-home feel to it, from the solid pool table in the back to the autographed photos of famous and not-famous artists that crowd the walls.

This is a down-and-dirty joint, with a walkway beside the bar so narrow that a walk back to the bathroom brings you in frequent, and intimate, contact with many other patrons.

The quality of the music can be uneven. On jam session nights, some musicians play like they've got sausages for fingers and sing like a Louisiana hound dog howling at the moon. On other nights, especially with the big-name acts, the music is magic and the chairs seem to rock on their own.

But in the end, the best part about JJ's may be the patrons themselves. Country & western and blues are only cheek and jowl apart, and C&W is a valley tradition that predates the silicon chip. Longtime residents also earned their ears in nearby Oakland, which was once the Bay Area's blues capital, and many other residents have followed Stanley's path by bringing their love of the music with them from more Southern climates. JJ's audience is a knowledgeable crowd that enjoys the blues, even when it's just hound-dog howling. More often than not, they'll catch a newcomer up in their enthusiasm.

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From the June 22-28, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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