Gip's Place remained open to the public Saturday night in Bessem - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Gip's Place remains open to the public Saturday night in Bessemer

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Gip Gipson playing guitar at his juke joint, GIp's Place, in Bessemer Saturday night. (abc3340.com) Gip Gipson playing guitar at his juke joint, GIp's Place, in Bessemer Saturday night. (abc3340.com)
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Henry "Gip" Gipson stands by his backyard juke joint.  He continued welcoming people inside Gip's Place Saturday night, despite police shutting it down last week because of complaints.

"The neighbor across the street is complaining about noise and saying people are urinating in the bushes and that's a lie." Lucy Hill, one of Gipson's neighbors, said.

The 92-year-old's homemade blues venue has been a Saturday night hot spot for more than 50 years and according to his son, Kenneth Gipson, his father doesn't plan on leaving anytime soon.

"He's not going anywhere cause it's his place and he doesn't want to re-locate." Kenneth Gipson said.

Gipson says he's not running a business and only accepts donations, but police and city leaders want him to get a business license.

"My dad don't sell alcohol. He tells everybody, y'all want something to drink, bring your own, because I don't sell liquor." Gipson's son said.

Gipson says he's not setting up the juke joint anywhere else, even though he says city leaders and attorneys are encouraging him to do so. He says there has never been violence or any other problems.

"I've got 3 or more attorneys telling me I'm supposed to be in the city." Gipson said. "So until this is settled, they give me the rights here, then I will consider it. But not until then."

Over 100 people showed up at Bessemer City Hall Tuesday in support of Gipson and keeping his place open.

"It's a place of peace and a place of love. Everybody loves Mr. Gip and this situation as the way it stands, nobody is satisfied with this." Hill said.

Bessemer Police Lt. Mike Wood says the city just wants Gipson to exhibit some cooperation in the matter because the area isn't zoned to handle the amount of people Gip's is attracting.

"I want them to apply for a license and try to go before the zoning board and see if they can get it re-zoned." Wood said. "But they need to show they want to cooperate. That's all we're asking."

Officers showed up Saturday night outside Gip's requesting to speak to the owner, but they were met with Gipson's attorney instead. The officers asked that the music volume be lowered and Gipson's representative happily obliged.

Police remained nearby throughout the night, checking for drivers licenses and proof of insurance down the road from Gip's.

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