It’s a muggy Saturday night in Memphis, and Wild Bill is clanging the ride cymbal on the drum set in the corner of the cramped bar he named after himself. This is how show time is announced at Wild Bill’s, a small juke joint set between a beauty salon and a rundown convenience store in a section of the city whose crime rate keeps its street names in the news. As the jukebox blares a Marvin Sease tune, the members of the band amble over to their instruments and Wild Bill—a gaunt, unspeaking 80-year-old in a pale suit and fedora—takes his perch on a stool by the door to collect the cover charge. In a few moments, this tiny, packed bar will transform into one of the last bastions of authentic American soul music. The band is the Memphis Soul Survivors, and they are just that: unsung veterans of the Memphis rhythm and blues scene who have weathered losing streaks and changining trends to keep the music alive by playing for tips, night after night. With no further introduction, they launch into an instrumental version of Buddy Miles’ “Them Changes.” Pressed together at long, cafeteria-style tables, the crowd starts to move with the music.

As the Soul Survivors play, locals from the predominately black neighborhood stroll in, smiling and joking with each other. Some are dressed casually, while others, especially the older ones, are decked out in their dancing shoes and Sunday best. They chat with Wild Bill’s few employees, mingling with the handful of students from nearby Rhodes College and the smattering of adventurous tourists.

It is only a short cab ride from downtown Memphis to Wild Bill’s at 1580 Vollintine, on the northern edge of Midtown, but it’s a world away from family-friendly Beale Street. The room is barely wide enough for three rows of tables, and the tiled ceiling is low and yellowed from years of smoke. Christmas lights and a few faded newspaper clippings adorn the walls, along with hundreds of Polaroids taken over countless nights: snapshots of regulars from over the years, captured forever in some moment of reverie. In the back is a bar long enough to seat only three, and behind that is the kitchen, where the cook serves fried chicken and 40-ounce beers. A prominent portrait of Wild Bill overlooks the proceedings, like a painting of a President.

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<BODY> <H1>Table of Contents</H1> <UL> <LI><a href="memphissoulsurvivors.htm">Memphis Soul Survivors Page 1</a></LI> <LI><a href="memphissoulsurvivors2.htm">Memphis Soul Survivors Page 2</a></LI> <LI><a href="memphissoulsurvivors3.htm">Memphis Soul Survivors Page 3</a></LI> <LI><a href="memphissoulsurvivors4.htm">Memphis Soul Survivors Page 4</a></LI> <LI><a href="viviancampbell.htm">Vivian Campbell Def Leppard</a></LI> <LI><a href="royorbison.htm">Roy Orbison</a></LI> <LI><a href="thelonesomesisters.htm">The Lonesome Sisters</a></LI> <LI><a href="jessiemaehemphill.htm">Jessie Mae Hemphill</a></LI> <LI><a href="ericclapton.htm">Eric Clapton</a></LI> <LI><a href="">Back to Gibson</a></LI> <LI><a href="">Back Issues</a></LI> <LI><a href="">Epihpone Casino (Archtop Collection)</a></LI> </UL> </BODY>