Friday, July 01, 2005
I'm a Doctor For Women
Think I've got my bandwidth back. Mmmmm....bandwidth.
I haven't forgotten about the Fringe Hall o'Fame thingy, by the bye. I'm just giving it some time before posting the next poll. We aint exactly the Baseball Hall in terms of exclusivity, but it'd get a bit tedious to have new entries every month. Kind of meaningless, and watered down, then. But I've still got several guest posts in the pipeline, which should start appearing next week sometime (promises, promises). Also, I've been kinda subtly (or not so) posting some folks I think might be Hall-worthy (Bobby Bare, Mick Collins/Gories). And now this fella:
Champion Jack Dupree.
Barrellhouse, boogie-woogie blues pianists, New Orleans had and has plenty. But Champion Jack Dupree, to these ears, was one of the most distinctive. While he left the crowded New Orleans scene early, and eventually, like many great musicians, found fame in Chicago and overseas, his playing never lost the roots of his hometown. Playing straight up, with very little concession to pop, and no interest in ballads, it's good-time, jukejoint music, infused with a strain of social protest well ahead of it's time. He could be called the Chester Himes of Blues.
Dupree led what could easily be called a fascinating life. Indeed, he actually was a boxer, fighting in over 100 bouts, earning the "Champion" moniker winning a boxing championship in Indiana. He served in World War II as a cook, eventually spending a couple of years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. He lived out the last of his days painting and living in Germany.
One of the things I love about pre-Rock 'n' Roll is the way musicians were forced to speak in metaphor. You couldn't come out and say Fuck on most records (though their were plenty of "blue" albums and sides floating around). No, everything had to be couched in doublespeak. Do we really think blues musicians were actually interested in long black snakes? And why did so many women have cats sitting in their laps? Most of this, of course, is cliche now. But one had to be more creative with their lyrics pre-60's. And Dupree was one of the best songwriters around. Smart, funny, ribald, serious if necessary. And, apparently, his woman made good jelly.
Champion Jack Dupree: Rum Cola Blues (mp3)
Champion Jack Dupree: She Makes Good Jelly (mp3)
Champion Jack Dupree: I'm a Doctor For Women (mp3)
As you well know, the Mountain always encourages folks to visit their local independent doctor, liquor store, and...erm...jelly seller.