It's been nearly three years now that I have been writing this here newspaper column, and it has occurred to me, as I am sure it has many of you, that I do very little actual "writing." Sure, I type a lot. I am always gathering random bits of information, and attempting to compile said bits into something that resembles responsible and competent journalism. But, as far as actual "reporting" goes?
Well ... shit. I suppose I'll take a stab.
And so, with that spirit in mind, the spirit of the brilliant Alan Lomax, Gayle Dean Wardlow, George Mitchell and other truly great ethnomusicologists of the 20th century, without whom we would know nearly nothing of early African-American folk song stylings (which, logically one could conclude, would mean no rock 'n roll!), I introduce you to Little Willie Mississippi.
And much like my own introduction, it will leave you feeling restless, disoriented and confused.
The story, however, doesn't start out with Little Willie, but starts with a man named Harry. Harry is a black man, somewhere near 40 years old, of average build. Friendly and ambitious, he spends a lot of his time around Weber Street Liquor, occasionally picking up an odd job, like hanging Christmas lights, shoveling the walks, or moving around shelves. One day, about two months ago, Harry comes up and asks me about the local "band" scene.
"Hey man, you know a lot of bands around here, don't you?" he says.
"Yeah man, I know a lot of bands," I reply.
"You don't happen to know any blues band, do ya?" he continues.
I paused for a moment, already anticipating where he was leading and said jokingly, "Well, I know a lot of people who think they are in blues bands."
We laughed for a second and then Harry got real serious and leaned in on me hard, the pungent air of alcohol on his breath. "Man, I got a dude you gotta meet. I'm telling you, my boy can play."
My interest obviously piqued. "Oh yeah!?" I asked eagerly, but not without ample skepticism. "Where's he at?"
And that is when Harry started to mumble a long line about how Little Willie "don't have a harp right now" and "he's real old" and "he been out of it a long time" and "he's really good, but ... " Harry illustrated that last point with little "drinky, drinky" motions, like he was tipping back a half pint of Kentucky Deluxe.
Not discouraged in the slightest, I told Harry, "Man, you bring him to me. I got an extra piece right here. If you say he can play, then I want to hear it."
"All right!" Harry said with a jump in his step, "I'ma go get him right now! I'll be back in 15."
It would be almost two weeks before I saw Harry again, and still no Willie ...
And that, my friends is where I will leave it this week. Stay tuned to the Reverb for the "Continuing Story of Little Willie Mississippi." But in the meantime, why don't you hit up a show or two?
Hit the Lights and Take It to 88 are at the Black Sheep Friday. Murder Hat is at the Rocket Room Saturday. Danielle Ate the Sandwich with Brandon Henderson and the Doubtful Sound are playing Saturday at the "new and improved" Loft. Or, for my pick of the week ... hit up the insanely awesome stoner rock show at the Triple Nickel on Sunday ... Metal Blade Records' Barn Burner, with Unikord and Decay!
I can smell the sickness already! L8R!
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