By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
It kind of feels like the inside of a really groovy barn: a barn that serves up treats like fried black-eyed peas and Caribbean-spiced edamame, while a talented traveling band spins musical yarns about love, loss and forgiveness, and presiding over it all is the image of a wailing Elvis, made out of broken records.
It’s a typical Tuesday, or maybe Thursday, or maybe Saturday, night at the Blue Canoe in Tupelo.
Owner Adam Morgan is making sure his restaurant isn’t just known for the food, but as a cool, laid-back home for good, original music.
Be the change you wish to see
Tupelo native Morgan longed for a unique venue and restaurant in his hometown, so he dreamed up the Blue Canoe.
“I think, ultimately, I felt like there weren’t enough places full of local color,” Morgan said. “I was tired of driving to Oxford and Memphis.”
The Blue Canoe opened in March, and in no time Morgan had pinned down the restaurant’s atmosphere.
The wooden walls are covered with Morgan’s personal art collection, which includes several Elvis images, as well as a portrait of Bob Marley. Behind the stage looks like a window, with a Rolling Stones lyric painted around it.
In the corner is a jukebox full of Morgan’s own album collection, including albums by Otis Redding and the Grateful Dead.
“It’s a comfy, bluesy, funky kind of vibe,” Morgan said.
Have a listen
Complementing the atmosphere is the music.
“I wanted music that spans generations, from blues to bluegrass,” he said.
He hired pal Meredith Martin to get some of the best bands to grace the stage at the Blue Canoe. There’s one rule: no cover bands.
“The bands that me and Adam go see at other places, why not bring them here?” Martin said. “Tupelo expects to have a good music scene, and we’re just trying to make that happen.”
Bands that have performed at the Blue Canoe include local favorites like Ironwood Bluff, and regional stars like Shovels and Rope, Star & Micey, Shannon McNally & Hot Sauce and Blue Mountain – whose song “Blue Canoe” inspired the restaurant’s name. This fall, the Blue Canoe will welcome Willie Nelson’s son’s band: Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real.
The Blue Canoe also once hosted a screening of a Phish webcast.
Thanks to bands and events like that, Morgan finally has that place he wanted, and he doesn’t have to leave Tupelo to find it.
“We’ve started having people leave Oxford to come here,” he said, “and it’s usually quite the opposite.”
Catch the beat
– Deep Fried 5 – Friday
– Blue Mountain – Saturday
– The Only Sons – July 14
– Bret Mosley – July 15
– Pay-Per-Blues, Dehlia Low – July 16
– Eric Deaton Trio – July 20
– Ginger St. James – July 21
– Davis Coen & Grace Askew – July 22
– The Pollies – July 23
– MiniVan Blues – July 28
– Bluff City Backsliders – July 30
– Coming up: Bands booked for August include Blue Mother Tupelo, Rooster Blues, Number Two with Me & Hugh, The Only Sons, John Francis and
Terry “Harmonica” Bean.
– Extra: For more information on Blue Canoe, including show times and prices, check out facebook.com/Blue-CanoeTupelo. The Blue Canoe is located at 2006 North Gloster St., Tupelo.