Greg & I played two gigs last wknd, one of which we actually got paid for!!! That was the one at the Knitting Factory Brooklyn, where we wowed ’em in the FrontBar and helped them sell more hootch than they usually do, accding to this great looking chick who played there earlier this summer and sold less booze than they usually do. Did you get that? Good, now you can explain it to me. Never mind, I’ve bored myself to sleep already.
We worked Borders again the nite before to a difficult audience with what I wd have to call mixed results. We certainly had mixed emotions about it. But we survived and rocked at the Knitting Factory the following nite, but, see?, I’m getting boring again.
Greg has the soundtrack to the Borders gig (the video part turned out to be a meditation on a couple of our limbs and a window, owing to misplacement of the camera), which I will get and put on here, as well as some stills when I get them. In fact, imagine my surprise, here’s one of those stills now.
This just in: my wife says there IS video of some sort from the Borders appearance. If it’s true I’ll get it on YouTube right away. In fact, shut ma mouf, it is true, and here they are! There are two ‘Tubies (the titles of which I carefully reversed here), Rocky Road Blues, a Bill Monroe song (tho I don’t think he used a clarinet in his version), and Cocaine Blues , about guess what, where we do some fancy finger-picking. Okay, plain finger-picking. When you’re finished with these you can see a set list from the Knitting Factory show. Everything just got exciting again, didn’t it?
This post is NOT edited or even read back by me.
Here’s another scene from the JIMMIE RODGERS Script.
SCENE XXIV – PEACHTREE HALL
EXT: Atlanta, late afternoon. Two limousines drive down Peachtree Ave. toward Peachtree Memorial Hall, downtown. In the lead car Jimmie sits beside the black driver, Edward. In the back seat are Arnel and the Bragan brothers, Cal and Ferguson, two white musicians in the band.
Cal: If they wuz rallying we’d of seen ’em by now, Jimmie. Anything happens in this town, it starts here, at Peachtree and Ninth, right, Edward?
Edward (scrunching head down to see where sun is): Uh, maybe, maybe not, Mr. Bragan. The Klan don’t like to muster whilst there’s any sun in the sky atall. They don’t want no light around for their business.
As the cars approach the Hall we see more and more people heading toward it, too. Someone sees the mini-caravan and the word spreads like wildfire.
Fans: Hey, Jimmie! Yodel-lay-ee-oo! Jim-mie? Hey, Mister Conductor, where you takin’ this train? Jimmie, you got the blues tonite? Etc.
Jimmie (out window): Excuse me, but isn’t this Atlanta?
Fans: You bet it is, Jimmie. Where else could it be? And how. You bet your butt it is, etc.
Jimmie: Then how could I have the blues?
Fans: Hooray! You said it, Jimmie! Welcome to Atlanta, Mr. Brakeman, etc.
EXT: Alley behind Hall.
The two cars pull in. Fans, all white, cheer as the musicians get out, grab their instrument cases, make their way to stage door. Crowd lavishes its attention on Jimmie and the Bragans, treats blacks like porters, i.e., doesn’t see them. Stagehand opens door.
INT: Darkness of Hall’s backstage area.
They straggle down dark corridor single file behind Stagehand. He runs on ahead, unlocks door to rehearsal room, disappears. Cal, walking at front of line, twists around and talks over his shoulder to the others
Cal: Well, I think if we ain’t seen a flaming cross yet we ain’t gonna. They gotta be outside the Hall, that’s what the Constitution says. I been reading up on this, and–
Band chatters to each other until they get to doorway of rehearsal room, then stop dead, bunch up one behind the other, like RR cars behind a derailed locomotive.
INT: Rehearsal room is ruined. Walls, windows and floors are thickly tarred a deep brown-black, furniture hacked to pieces. Music stands are bent and twisted, grand piano is tarred and feathered, inside and out. In center of room is a single gallows with an effigy of a black man wearing a sign saying, “Niggers (& NIGER-LOVERS) Dont let this Curtan Rise on YOU!”
JR (after long silence): Looks like somebody couldn’t read the Constitution. (Beat) Boy, if there’s one thing I hate, it’s an illiterate lynch mob. (Ponders a moment, then…) Guys, why don’t you go to your dressing rooms, and we’ll just rehearse in the–
Arnel (who’s been exploring): Uh, I don’t think so, Jimmie. It looks like they used up the rest of their tar on our rooms. Jimmie, listen: Cal and Ferguson can give you all the backing you need tonight. There’s no reason for you–
JR (pointedly ignoring him): Tell you what: we’ll rehearse in one of the storage rooms. Heck, we really know our stuff by now, anyway, leastwise we should. Besides, we might not even get a chance to play a whole set, once the “cur-tan” rises on us “Niggers and Ni-ger-lovers.”
INT: Peachtree Memorial Hall.
Hall is quickly filling with quietly buzzing people. No hollering and friendly catcalls now that word has gotten out about the Klan’s message. EMCEE walks up stage stairs, touches mic to make sure it is on.
Emcee: Ladies and gentlemen… ladies and gentlemen…that includes you boys from Local 231, ha ha ha… (There is no cheering) ladies and gentlemen… The Peachtree Memorial Hall Association has a special treat tonight: besides seeing and hearing the greatest yodeling blues singer that ever lived, the one and only Jimmie Rodgers (polite, reserved applause), you’re going to hear some of the wonderful musicians that have helped Jimmie make the music y’all love to hear. Now, some of these amazing–and I do mean amazing–instrumentalists are–
Emcee (ignoring shout): –amongst the foremost entertainers in the land, playing with such–
2nd Heckler: NIIIIGGERRRS!
Emcee (pausing, still trying to ignore): –highly acclaimed
recording acts as–
3rd Heckler: “Coonhead Cal and the Tar-babies.”
Crowd: Nervous titter.
Other Catcallers: “Li’l Black Sambo.” “The Nappyheads.” “Junglebunnies.” Etc.
Crowd titters some more, grows restive.
Emcee: Uh… (looks futilely offstage for help). Now, some of these here players have actually gone to academies in order to–
Catcallers (starting pseudo-African chant): “Unga-bunga, Unga-bunga, we don’t want no jungle-bunnies,” etc.
A few members of the crowd have star to pick it up as JR suddenly appears with guitar from behind curtain, nods to EMCEE, who leaves stage gratefully.
JR: Thank you, thank you, thank you, Frank Earle. What a wonderful introduction. Honest, too. In fact, that was the Frankest introduction (stage winks to audience, still restive) we’ve ever gotten. (Calls to band offstage) I’n that right boys? (Silence). I said, “Isn’t that right, gentlemen?”
Band Members (Offstage, nervous): Right, Jimmie. You said it, Boss. Uh huh, etc.
JR (gesturing toward EMCEE, who is fleeing out side door): Frankie Earle, ladies and gentlemen, the Voice of Atlanta… Radio W-A-N-T, 20,000 watts of “Peachtree Perfection,” with a 140-foot tower right in the middle of town! (Quieter, more intimate) Lordy, me, why, that’s just a hoot and holler from where we are right now, i’n it, folks? Athens of the South, isn’t that what they say?
Crowd noise levels off, catcalls less frequent. JIMMIE drags plain kitchen chair from Stage Right, sits down, lowers mic.
JR: You know, folks, on the way over I was thinkin’ ’bout what I wanted to play for you tonight (tunes guitar)… and at the same time, you know, I got another recording date comin’ up with the Victor people…(tunes) and I thought maybe I could kill two birds with one song, if ya know what I mean. Whyn’t you take a listen, tell me what you think.
Shoots a private smile to crowd, strums a few chords, works into a bass run and comps an up-tempo E7 chord, setting up a blues in A.
It’s “G” for Georgia,
“G” for “guarantee”
“G” for Georgia,
“G” for “guarantee”
They’ll treat you right in Atlanta,
You can take it straight from me.
Audience begins to quiet down. The curtain behind JIMMIE rises to reveal six other musicians, three white, three black, standing behind him. They join him on the second verse, and the sound is suddenly big and solid, anchored by pumping rhythm from upright bass and tuba.
JR: It’s “G” for Georgia,
“G” for gasoline
“G” for Georgia,
“G” for gasoline
Took a whole lotta drivin’,
Just to get here from Abilene
Crowd gets noisy again, but mood is different from before. People yell things like, “Damn right, Jimmie,” and “Welcome to Georgia, Jimmie.” It’s a good accompaniment to the driving music.
I love your peaches
I want to shake your tree.
Love your peaches
Hope you let me shake your tree
I’m proud to play Atlanta,
And I hope you like my boys and me.
Crowd belongs to the Jimmie Rodgers Entertainers. They’re clapping in rhythm to the rollicking beat of the band, and, to a man, woman and child, beaming the wide, ingenuous smile of the loving toward the beloved. JIMMIE has completely won them over.
And here’s that set list from the Knitting Factory I promised. In case you forgot how excited you were when I first told you about it.