So last week I went down to Beale Street to talk to Rudy Williams, the trumpet playing street musician, for the last bit of my research project. (See my post from Aug. 26). We set a time to meet and I talked with him today for an hour and he had that kind of laid back quality all blues guys seem to have, a sort of take it or leave it attitude. Smoking one cigarette after another, holding it just on the edge of his lips as if it might fall at any moment. I came away with a lot of interesting stuff but here are a few favorite quotes/paraphrases from the talk:
There was one guy in the band who didn't look like no guy, you know. I found out later it was Evelyn Young, the saxophone player, dressed up like the guys in the band. They were wearin' green suits and shades. I thought that was cool.
Ma Rainey was always mad about something. She'd come into club cursing everybody out. But the next day she'd come in with some neckbones and greens.
Back then they had real shows, floor shows. You'd get dressed up and take your lady out to dinner then you could watch the show. There would be comedians, singers, bands, solos. And folks stayed on the dance floor.
I think Beale Street is better now. Now, the whole world comes to Beale Street.
A random passerby overheard him talking about Gene Bowlegs Miller, "Hey man, are you talkin' about Bowlegs Miller? You know what you're talkin' about man." Then he looked at me and said, "you're talkin' to a legend there."
There was a little joint some cats were playin' in over on November 6th street. There was pigeons in the rafters and people eatin' dinner there too. But man those cats could play. (side note: he said "cats" a lot. I don't personally know anyone else who could say "cat" and get away with it. I wish I could. I'm going to try it at work tomorrow. I'll slip in something like, 'That cat said he was gonna email me that thing, but you know, I ain't seen nothin' from that cat, man..")
The blues is always about a man and his woman. Like that three handed woman. She's right- handed and left-handed and underhanded too.