Leland in Washington County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Ruby's Nite Spot
Ruby’s Nite Spot, operated at this site by Ruby Edwards, was one of the most prominent blues clubs in the Delta during the 1940s and ‘50s. Edwards booked nationally known acts such as T-Bone Walker, Little Walter, and Little Richard, newcomers Ike Turner and Little Milton, and down-home Delta bluesmen Son Thomas and Eddie Cusic, among many others. Patrons here could dine, drink, dance, and gamble into the wee hours of the morning, long after clubs in nearby Greenville and Indianola had closed.
Ruby’s Nite Spot occupied a unique position among Delta nightclubs not only because of its full and varied slate of blues entertainment but also because of owner Ruby Edwards' renowned business acumen. Edwards, always determined to please her customers, took full advantage of Leland's "wide open" policy that allowed gambling extravaganzas and late-hour activities that few towns in Mississippi could match. Gamblers with suitcases full of cash traveled to Leland from all over the South for all-day, all-night "skin balls" that Edwards operated next to the club, often lasting for days at a time. Payoffs to the local sheriff ensured that Edwards could send her daughter Sue or other "runners" across the state line to return with liquor that was illegal during Mississippi's extended era of prohibition.
Ruby Edwards, born May 20, 1910, came to Leland from Brandon, Mississippi, with her mother shortly before the 1927 flood. Resolved to go into business for herself, she had opened Ruby's Nite Spot by World War II. Her children, Terry Keesee, Harold Hall, Sue Carol Hall, and Jimetta Thornton, later began helping out at the club. Among the many national touring acts recalled as performing at Ruby’s were Ray Charles, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Jimmie Lunceford, Big Joe Turner, Gatemouth Brown, Gatemouth Moore, Arthur Prysock, Percy Mayfield, Lowell Fulson, Joe and Jimmy Liggins, and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson. The variety of acts at Ruby's ranged from the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-female band that originated at Piney Woods, to Delta blues legends Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2, Elmore James, and Honeyboy Edwards to the bands of the Silas Green and Rabbit Foot minstrel shows. To draw crowds, Ruby's often offered free admission to dances when local bands were performing. Little Milton and Tyrone Davis would both take the stage alone, without backup
In the mid-1950s Edwards took over the Club Ebony in Indianola, where her daughter Sue met her husband-to-be, B. B. King. Edwards' son Terry Keesee then operated Ruby's for a while, as well as the smaller Playhouse nearby. In later years Ruby Edwards ran a grocery store until she retired in the 1970s. She died on New Year's Day of 2001.
Erected 2011 by Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 136.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 33° 24.461′ N, 90° 54.051′ W. Marker is in Leland, Mississippi, in Washington County. Marker is at the intersection of McGee Street and Dean Street, on the right when traveling north on McGee Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 201 McGee Street, Leland MS 38756, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies Corner of 10 and 61 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Tyrone Davis (approx. 0.2 miles away); James “Son” Thomas (approx. ¼ mile away); Johnny Winter (approx. ¼ mile away); Birthplace of Kermit the Frog (approx. 0.3 miles away); First Legal Liquor Store (approx. 7.8 miles away); Coleman High School (approx. 7.9 miles away); Nelson Street (approx. 8.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Leland.
Also see . . . Dedication Ceremony Honoring Ruby's Night Spot. Delta Democrat-Times article. (Submitted on October 31, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 31, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 209 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on October 31, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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