Y’all……….Y’all………….Y’all. This festival couldn’t have gone better for us if Lawrence Welk himself had pushed the button on the bubble machine, kicked the orchestra into a fast tempo number, looked over his shoulder at us and said, “And now friends, it’s time for some Foot Stompin Magic Boogie Shit!”
It’s all thanks to beer, and that’s the truth. We went looking for a beer around 12 or 1 and found a couple places that had $8 beer and $18 hamburgers, and were full to brimming with tourists, wanna be bikers, and other folks who could afford a $26 lunch minus tip. Well, we were playing the festival for less money than we spent on gas, so we went to the other side of the tracks where the BBQ grills were lining the street and there wasn’t but one live music tent out front of the New Roxy.
Well, we found the coldest beer in The Fine State of Mississippi, right next to one of the best hamburgers and catfish sandwiches we’d ever eaten, cooked by some of the nicest folks it’s been my pleasure to meet in a long assed while. We’d found Club 2000 on Issaquena Ave. Since we were the only people in the whole place, we spent an hour or so talking and come to find out T Model Ford was playing that night at 9. One thing leads to another and as we head for the door I ask if we could have a shot opening for T Model. ”Why not?” They says.
Well we’re energized now! I immediately start pimping CW Ayon (who traveled with us to Clarksdale in hopes of finding a gig) and they say, bring him. So I go fetch him, get him introduced around and he starts playing out front while we go get ready to play our “official” Juke Joint Festival gig at the Train Depot. A couple hours later, we get back to Club 2000 and CW has the place JUMPING! Even the little kids are getting down!
Once he gets finished, we set up and start playing. In 3-4 songs we have cleared the place out…everybody trickled out and was GONE! I was thinking, “OK, when we get out of here…I’m going by that pawn shop and selling my gear” Later Joe told me the same thing. THEN a MIRACLE happened. We were playing “River’s Up”…folks started trickling back in…a couple guys started doing that slow motion juke joint dancing strut. Next thing you know a guy walks in and asks “Uh….hey…uh…I play some harp, can I sit in with y’all”
“Hell yeah man, there’s the mic”
That was Pat “Rockadaddy” Murphy. Later we heard that he hadn’t done anything like that in 20 years. He told me he’d been sitting in the vacant lot across the street watching his grandkids, heard our music and had to check us out. Well, we improvised tunes for him for the next 3 hours or so…the place was jam packed with locals GETTING DOWN. We had folks dancing, trying to steal our tip money, laughing, grabbin for my spare guitar, smoking, dancing, pointing their voodoo stink fingers at us…I don’t even know what all was happening, except folks were enjoying themselves.
Then somebody must have told the city because the next thing we know everybody is getting run out of that place for not having the $10 wristbands…so we quit playing and start using our tip money to buy wristbands for them. Don’t remember how many we bought but we got some of those folks back in, including Pat. So we get back to playing and the next thing you see is a line of tourists in wristbands coming in. So we filled Club 2000 TWICE…first time with locals, second time with tourists. Pat finally has had enough, we get him a beer and he goes outside to enjoy some well deserved cool unsweaty air. CW Ayon sits in with us and sings two RL Burnside tunes with us that KILLED!
At that point DJ Undertaker…the guy who booked us to play that night walks up and says, “mlkjasdhaiuwieufjef….plays harp” It was so loud in there I couldn’t hear what he’d said so i just said, “He wants to play with us?”
“Hell yeah, there’s the mic”
That guy was Watermelon Slim. He came up, was getting settled with the mic and chair, while I kicked off a slow eerie jam. Joe came in, then Slim and we got everyone but folks walking in to be SILENT. It was the coolest tune I’ve ever been a part of. About 2/3 through the song T Model Ford walks in, so it was our last tune of the night. We had the place FULL, but when T Model started playing (through my amps, sitting in my chair, singing through CW’s mic and PA…with Stud playing Joe’s drums) he got enough folks in there that there was NO place for us to stand except the sound booth…or out on the street.
After an hour and half or so Stud (T Model’s 13 year old grandson) got tired and Joe played drums for him the rest of the night. Later on Joe started getting tired so he figured he’d play louder and faster to wear T Model out…well…didn’t have any effect other than it woke him up! We didn’t get out of there until after 2:30. We are invited back for next year and CAN’T WAIT!!!!