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Don's No More

Originally printed in the Jackson Free Press on August 8, 2007

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Mississippi Memories

W. C. Don's - Jackson

In February, national magazine Paste issued a compilation CD, which included songs from "a couple of heavy hitters like Joan Osborne, the guy formerly known as Cat Stevens," and other big names, Butler said. There were three bands on the CD that had played at Don's in the past six months—"to crowds of six, and 10, and three people," he said.

In the last few years, it became a labor of love just to keep the doors open, because after sinking most of what he had into the club, he wasn't making a profit.

The location on State Street wasn't the first W.C. Don's in Jackson. In the mid-'80s, the original Don's location on West Street hosted dozens of now-famous acts: The Indigo Girls, Faith No More and Widespread Panic, to name a few. Even R.E.M. visited the club once to jam after a show. But these days, it seems, people would rather hear a DJ. Even the people who lean toward original music would rather sit and socialize instead of listening to a band, Butler suggested, and said he had to segregate the live music—where he charged patrons a cover fee—from the rest of the bar, or risk their walking away altogether.

"Obviously, at some point my dream was to get rich in the Rock 'n' Roll business, but at other points it was gratifying just to be a part of something that I consider the only original American music that really has any life in it," Butler said of alt/indie music, adding that he's not bitter in the least. For the moment he's just glad to be away from the day-to-day realities of managing a club, including the hours—Butler hasn't been a stranger to 4 a.m.

​Butler still has an interest in the old West Street location, and said that he would be willing to try again if he found the right partners—"a couple of people who have as little sense as I do," he said. For now, though, it looks like Butler's future is in real estate.

"The Tuff Luvs did us out as good as anybody can," Butler said of the club's last show. He's convinced that the band has everything it takes to hit the big time, if they want it badly enough.

And if anyone in Jackson has the right to say that, it might just be Terry Butler.

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After decades of bringing original alternative and independent music to Jackson and lending support to dozens of bands, Terry Butler closed the doors at W.C. Don's after the Tuff Luvs show last Saturday. If you listen closely, you might still hear the final notes fading away.

"Original rock 'n' roll is less popular today in Jackson, Miss., than it was 20 years ago. That's one of the miscalculations that I made," Butler said via telephone on Tuesday. Instead of his market growing with the city, it all but disappeared.

W. C. Don's at 206 E Ridgeway Street in Jackson

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