Supporters gather in Bessemer, stand behind Gip's Place

More than 100 people showed up at the Bessemer City council meeting, fighting to keep Gip's Place open. Bessemer Police shut down Gip's Saturday, citing a long list of complaints and zoning issues.

Many people in this community have a lot of respect for Gip Gipson and his musical venue. But, the Bessemer Mayor said Gipson is violating the law. The council didn't make any decision's about the future of the Gip's Place, despite community support.

"If you fall for something, you stand for nothing." Since 1952 -- Gip Gipson says, it's been all about blessings and blues at Gip's Place.

"I remember when this was a tent and had furniture and love seats." Live bands and word of mouth draws close to 300 people to this backyard juke joint on Saturday nights. Gipson says "They come for miles just to come down here and see."{>}

Bessemer Police say that popularity is now drawing complaints against Gip's Place. Officers shut down the place last Saturday. Deputy Chief, Michael Roper, says "Complaints from citizens about trash on the streets, urinating on people's property, urinating on city street in public." We get complains from other businesses why should they have a license but his business is operating without a license?"

Gips says, "Never had one to walk up to me yet." Besides not hearing any complaints, Gip Gipson says he only accepts donations to pay bands.

Supporters gathered at the Bessemer City Council to defend the juke joint, calling it a national treasure started every Saturday with a prayer.

But, Bessemer City Council President, Ron Marshall says the city has an obligation to enforce the laws.

Council member Chester Porter had this to say.. "There are certain guidelines he must adhere to. That is indeed a residential community. Mr. Gipson {}has had the opportunity to acquire a business but has failed to follow through. We have many empty buildings downtown here in Bessemer that he can come and purchase and rent out."

But supporters don't want to take tradition away, including Gipson. Gipson says "I'm not saying it's closed down. If you come out here Saturday night, bring your camera."

We asked Gipson if he would be getting a business license now.. and he said he would do what he has to. Councilman Porter says they will enforce the law if he does not follow through. One councilman did propose Gipson having Saturday venues in a local park, but no decision was made on that.