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Morgan Freeman’s blues club set to help downtown Biloxi revitalization

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 7:22 AM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Excitement is spreading in downtown Biloxi about the future of Howard Avenue. The former Kress Live building will soon be home to Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club. The establishment’s impending arrival has nearby businesses eager to see the new business open its doors downtown.

The club will be located inside the historic 20,000 square-foot Kress Building and be a place where music fans can hear both local and established musicians.

Marley’s Music is just down the street from where the blues club will be and is filled with thousands of records, giving people the chance to hear songs from years past up to the current hits topping the charts.

Joseph Roberts and his son Marley co-own the store. Now, they are hoping to have live music nearby that will inspire music lovers and help the District on Howard development thrive.

“Other than the casinos and the Coliseum, there aren’t too many venues for live music, and I think the downtown area could really benefit,” said Marley Roberts.

The father-son duo believes that the Ground Zero Blues Club will be key in reviving the downtown community.

“Downtown has been revitalizing this district area and, with (Morgan Freeman) coming down here and putting such a big name and having such a great venue being renovated for music purposes, I think it is going to add a lot and it’s going to bring more traffic down here,” said Joseph Roberts.

Marley’s Music is hoping to ride that wave, as well, and are hopeful that the blues club opening will give them even more ways to serve music fans on the Coast.

“Once we figure out the list of artists who are coming, we could always special order albums by those groups to have here so when people are coming to browse, they can get a souvenir here, as well,” said Joseph Roberts. “I think it can only help bring other music lovers into the shop.”

After seeing delays over the last year due to the pandemic, developers are still working to revitalize the District on Howard.

“I’d say the train is about to leave the station. COVID was a definite pause button for everybody and everyone’s business, but we kept moving and we kept planning and talking and here we are in July. COVID is almost in our rearview mirror,” said Bobby Gillon, the director of development for the District on Howard.

Gillon stresses the momentum is evident when people see the size of different District Green gatherings, which he thinks illustrates how invested the community is in the revitalization project.

“(Events on the Biloxi Town Green) draw different demographics and different kinds of people,” said Gillon. “A Saturday morning might draw a different kind of person than a Friday evening. All we’re trying to do is get better each day.”

The Ground Zero Blues Club could be the largest sign of progress yet.

In May 2001, acclaimed actor and Mississippi native Morgan Freeman opened the blues club in his hometown in Clarksdale, Miss. It’s currently the only other location. Located near the Delta Blues Museum, the club features live music Wednesday through Saturday and has a menu of traditional Southern foods.

The Biloxi location is expected to open November 6, 2021.

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