Bare with us here a bit, cause putting this thing together was a way bigger task then first imagined. There’s entirely too many experiences we’d like to mention but with not near enough time or space. So it’s like this… sometime around mid-2004 shot my mouth off while associated with a group other than PB&J’s. This was at a time when the internet was still somewhat in its infancy. Said something like there needed to be more done to promote things by way of the world wide web. Of course those listening said something like, “well okay then YOU do it.” That’s when and how it started. This putting together a newsletter of sorts. And it was actually kinda fun then when few even knew who crawlinkingsnake was!
There’s been lots of rewards, maybe even some benefits (LOL!) and for sure a few disappointments. But the rewards far outweighed everything else. Rewards like meeting people who would normally may have never met. People like Sylvester & Mary Hoover, Fruteland Jackson, Eddie Cusic, Chris Thomas King, Dave & Elizabeth Claytor, Hubert Sumlin, Robert Jr Lockwood, Charlie Musselwhite, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Roger Stolle, Rat and Joyce Ratliff, and many many more. It was rewarding when our little publication helped promote Willie King traveling through West Virginia in a multi-cultural tour for WVU. He and the Liberators played WVU-Tech in Montgomery, WVU-Parkersburg and Morgantown. A true humanitarian, he was then and still is now is on my short list of all time favorites. Still miss him today, just like we’ll always miss Willie Seaberry aka Po Monkey and local jazzman Bruce DeMoll.
Of course will always remember while in Chicago Buddy Guy signing a t-shirt “Happy Birthday” to give to my son.
Or the thrill of shaking hands with BB King passing through his museum in Indianola, MS. And later that night getting to chat with him at Club Ebony as he signed the front of my ’04 Living Blues collectors edition. That same weekend a chance meeting with his daughter Shirley King, who we had shared a table with once in Marietta. Few years later got to see her perform in a club way down on Southside Chicago and later that night sitting back stage bsin’ til way past 2:00am. Recall me and Doc out on a very empty State Street trying to catch a cab and wondering, “what the hell are we doin’ out here!”.
Or the first time ever seeing Big Jack Johnson on a Sunday afternoon at River City Blues Fest, and the many more times to follow at Red’s Lounge in Clarksdale. RIP Big Jack, you were incredible. And how ’bout the night Kenny Neal played ’til 2 or 3am in a little bar on Front Street in Marietta! Probably even topped his outstanding performance few years later at Big Bend Blues Bash.
They wasn’t nothing like sharing some brown licker with Blind Mississippi Morris while sitting on side the stage after Acoustic Blues Fest in Columbus! And like always “it’s Jack Daniels time!” when sitting with T-Model Ford watching nephew Stud play drums with Robert Balfour out front Cathead Delta Blues & Folk Art.
Also rewarding to see Eddie C. Campbell playing at Delmark Records in Chicago. And this was AFTER he had suffered a stroke while in Europe. Another time in Chicago caught Big James & the Chicago Playboys at Legends one night. Great stuff… and believe that was the night we “lost” Spider. But only briefly.
Couple shows stand out at Court Street Grill. Well actually way more than that. Eden Brent stopped at the Grill and tore it up after playing Rhythm on the River earlier that evening. Eddie Shaw put on a show that was off the charts for a special event called “hands across the water“. Another was first time seeing “queen of the slide guitar” Joanna Connor at the Grill. How ’bout every show Larry Garner ever did there! And speaking of every show it’s an absolute fact Johnny Rawls loves the Grill and the Grill loves him right back. Hey, whada we saying? There’s been way too many good’ens at the Grill.
In 2012 we actually got to meet one of the United States most influential people in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. While in Jackson had the great pleasure to meet and chat briefly with no other than James Meredith. In 1962 he dealt with unbelievable discrimination when becoming the first African American student to enroll at University of Mississippi. Through it all he kept his dignity and remained a gentleman. The night we met him he was proudly wearing his red Ole Miss ball cap!
OUR PROUDEST MOMENT:
Of course meeting Meredith that night at the Tommy Johnson Blues Festival would never happened if not for another twist of fate. Our single most memorable happening and proudest we’ve ever been while putting together these mostly tongue-in-cheek articles was the Tommy Johnson grave situation in Crystal Springs, MS.
While walking down the street at the ’08 or ’09 Juke Joint Fest, completely by accident happened upon Johnson’s niece Ms Vera Johnson-Collins. And as they say, “the rest is history”. Few months before had read an editorial by musicologist Dr David Evans on the Johnson grave situation and how access to the cemetery was denied by surrounding land owners. We’d been in contact with Vera thru emails and phone calls, but had never met until that day.
Long story short we became even more involved in trying to right something that was wrong. We were humbled when receiving a thank you and congratulations from then Exec Dir of Mount Zion Memorial Fund Mr Skip Henderson. Our article SPECIAL REPORT~The Saga of Tommy Johnson found in Big Bend Blues News Oct 10th, 2010 was re-published in The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University by Tyler Moore who at that time was a PhD candidate at Ole’ Miss. Since then Tyler has become the Exec Dir of MZMF. Vera soon visited with us in Parkersburg all the way from Jackson. We set up an information booth with pamphlets, books, t-shirts, etc at Big Bend Blues Bash and we were extremely proud as she spoke from the main stage telling of her efforts to open the closed cemetery.
Our SPECIAL REPORT was circulated via many emails and was read by then Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, US Congressman Bennie Thompson, State Representative Gregory Holloway as well as others in the state legislature. Will never forget what our friend Vera told us about speaking with Representative Holloway. Quote- “Vera, these is white people! Yes, we’re gonna make this happen.” So yea, guess you could say we’re quite proud to actually have had even slightest influence on the opening of the cemetery at Crystal Springs. And how wonderful it was to attend the dedication of the head stone and meet such folks as Dr Evans, Tyler, Skip, Chris Thomas King, Vera’s husband Terry, cousin Rose and many others.
But that’s not to say there aren’t great folks and haven’t been great times on the local/regional front. We’ve sho’nuf enjoyed relationships and hope to continue with the likes of Billy Price, Terry Lowry (thx for info on CC Richardson), Dennis McClung and band, Chris Sutton, Ray Fuller, Austin Walkin’ Cane, Hubert “Rabbit” Jones (thx for Browns Park info), Lady D (thx for your efforts with Simply Jazz & Blues), Antonia Ritchie, Jared Sheets and band, just to name a few.
Haaaa! When it comes to benefits, can’t think of too many. Maybe been handed a free CD a time or two. Or a beer or Tanqueray. But can’t remember anyone buying us dinner. And even though I’d hardly call it a benefit, we have been asked to judge a competition or two. Actually there were times we were given a free or discounted festival pass or maybe even told to go on past the door cover. Of course, especially in those situations, always made it a point to be more than generous to the tip bucket sitting on stage.
There’s always been them great blues clubs and juke joints. Just a shame it seems there’s fewer and fewer all the time. So rest in peace those that are gone. We’ll always remember Po Monkey’s (Merigold, MS), Haagi Cabana (Parkersburg), The Crow Bar (Marietta), Bogie’s (Parkersburg), The Zoo Bar (Wash, DC), The Blues Angel (Parkersburg) and The Canal House (Tuscarawas, OH). Wish you were still with us.
Of course our best wishes to those still out there kicking. Joints like Court Street Grill (Pomeroy), Red’s Lounge (Clarksdale), Ace’s Live (Bradenton, FL), Moondog’s (Blawnox, PA), The Jazz Corner (Hilton Head, SC), Hey Hey Club (Columbus), Terra Blues (NYC), Club Ebony (Indianola, MS), Ground Zero (Clarksdale), Washington Square (Clarksburg), Blue Front Cafe (Bentonia, MS), Legends (Chicago), Mr Handy’s (Memphis), and Harlem Ave Lounge (Chicago). Y’all keep on keepin’ on now, ya hear!
Couldn’t never forget them festivals. Like when our t-shirt design was selected the official design for the 2004 Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival! Whodah thunk it? Chicago Blues Fest is like no other. Course ya don’t have to go to Chicago just for the festival. There’s a whole lot things to see and do and that don’t even include the clubs! Or the 2005 King Biscuit Blues Festival with Spider ‘n Queen Biscuit and KindOleBlues Lady ‘n Bubby in tow. First time ever seeing Irma Thomas who had just lost everything in Hurricane Katrina but still had an incredible performance. Or the Juke Joint Festival with Doc ‘n Sheena, ibbluesman ‘n The Blues Widow staying at The Riverside Hotel. The first time meeting Gumbo Charly and St Louis Frank.
Of course, they been some disappointments. In 1997 Junior Wells was unable to perform at River City Blues Fest in Marietta. He got pneumonia, went into the hospital, and not long afterwards passed away. That was a disappointment. In 2006 Willie Pooch was a no show for event we had planned at a local club in Marietta. That too was a disappointment. We were told he was probably still in Florida. As we sat at the bar and looked at each other believe the comment from KindOleBluesLady was, “I think it’s time to start the tequila drip.” But if you knew Willie, as we didn’t all that well at the time, but we learned NOT to book him directly. But rather book him thru a manager or band member. When he passed the Columbus Blues Alliance had a wonderful memorial service/jam session in his honor at Roadhouse 66.
And speaking of t-shirts ain’t never gonna forget while associated with another group, accused of being a thief and giving t-shirts away to friends. Really? C’mon man… And even after the actual culprit was found out, no mention of an apology. C’mmmon Man! Or realizing at one point with still another group there was a power controlling racist in the mix and some seemed to wanta overlook it. Seems like these so called “societies” can at times bring out the worst in people. To quote T-Model, “that’s fo’ gotdamsho!” Seems many forget it’s actually about the music and not they owngotdamselves. Best advise to such groups would be; “if you’re gonna write bylaws, be sure to follow ’em.”
Won’t forget a poor performance from Guitar Shorty at 2004 Snowshoe Blues, Brews & BBQ. Course we still had a fine time with Quincy ‘n Sue and Travelin’ManStan ‘n Judy. Shorty’s talented, but he didn’t wanta be there that night. Few years ago saw a poor show including attitude from a great talent. Lucky Peterson at River City Blues Fest was so bad was almost funny. Friend of ours was to pick him up at the airport but he took a cab and didn’t tell anybody. And didn’t bring his band! Now that was disappointing. We’re told he’s “cleaned up” some but still reputation as a “no show” for gigs. Also felt E.G. Kight should been ashamed of herself one night at Concord University for hogging the stage and taking time away from Nat Reese.
It’s also been disappointing somewhat that was never able to consistently get other writers on board to our blog. But it’s certainly understandable as it can be quite time consuming.
Also disappointed with the problems that have seemed to surround the Johnnie Johnson Festival in Fairmont. One of the best performances we ever saw was there in front of less than 40 people! Remember that one RoyD? Really a shame Fairmont can’t seem get its act togeather enough to embrace its native son “Johnnie Be Good”.
CAN I VENT?
Wouldn’t be right to put out a post, whether it’s the last one or not, without a little venting. So tell me, what’s the REAL story behind the demise of Charlie West Blues Fest in Charleston? And what about the Riverside Blues Festival in Elkins? These were two really fine events. Does it always come down to jealousy and control? How about it Dennis, you were gonna explain the Elkins thing to me one time and I’d still like to know.
And why does the Mount Zion Memorial Fund continue to place “new” head stones on unmarked graves and not first help replace or repair the broken one on the Tommy Johnson grave? C’mon Tyler and c’mon Libby, what’s going on? I’ve kept my mouth shut long enuf.
Lastly a couple things could never understand. Why do certain groups similar to us, out there on the world wide web, seem outright unwilling to post our posts on there Facebook or whatever other sites? But of course many do and it’s always been much appreciated. After all we was never in competition with each other. Only wanting what was best for all.
And why did some of the powers that be seem to never consider leaving a comment at the bottom of a post? Could never figure that one out. Especially when at times we get comments from all over including Europe (thanks Alan). But then again some readily did so, and it too has been appreciated. Oh well, what the hey.
And why when we put together a few questions for a SPOTLIGHT interview… send them out to musicians, promoters, record label owners, etc… all who had agreed ahead to answer and return… but we’d NEVER get anything back. C’mon man, it’s about YOU and a chance to promote YOU and what YOU do! But again not everyone mind you cause we’ve had some great interviews. How’s this for a list of well known’s and deserve to be well known’s? ex: Shaun Booker, Roger Stolle, Priscilla Price, Zac Harmon, the late Bruce DeMoll, Micah Kesselring, Gary Applegate, Dennis McClung, Jared Sheets, Jim Spence, Austin Walkin’ Cane, Chris Sutton, Rick Collura, and Lady D, just to name a very few.
PATS ON THE BACK & THANKS ALL ‘ROUND:
Of course they’s some damn fine folks out there working with the local/regional groups. People like Donna, Sandor, Giff, Karen, Herb, Eric, Antonia, Donna and many more. And as said, the rewards, due to the good times with good folks, have always outnumbered the disappointments by a considerable margin. Before signing off gotta give a shout out to friends St Louis Frank, Gumbo Charly, Curt “the truth” & Cindi, who we’d never got to know if not for our travels to the “land of the Delta Blues”. And it’s been great fun introducing real-deal Delta Blues to old college friends Crutch, Pete and Doc. Let’s be sure and do it again! Also thanks and shout out to locals and semi-locals Spider, D-Bone, chilipepper, Phil, and Larry. If ya didn’t see yer name mentioned, forgive us please. It ain’t on purpose… just an oversight.
And finally… when Jackie at Court Street Grill asked me in late 2009 to consider doing this for Pomeroy Blues & Jazz Society it didn’t take long to decide. Thanks to Phins for helping me get started and not be afraid of new technology. Always have said I ain’t no music critique (yea, I hear ya Chris!), don’t know nearly as much as some think, and got into this mainly to drink cold drafts and listen to “live” real-deal blues. And as long as it continued to be fun then I’d continue to do it. We’ve gone from a weekly to a bi-weekly to random posting and everything in between. And now back to a blog with weekly posts. But now it’s time for me to pull the plug on this thing and let someone else give it a shot. Cause I ain’t going on no facebook or tweet or linkedin or any other social network BS. Have at times considered going independent, but haven’t yet decided on that for sure. But have thought about stepping away at least for a while. I would like to see all our publications preserved in some way. It does of course depend on what JW Juke wants to do with this site. And also if someone else might like to pick up the ball and run with it. But must say, putting this mess together has somewhat got the juices flowing again. So we’ll see. But for now~ that’s a wrap y’all.