Sunday, November 26, 2006

Blues original Robert Junior Lockwood dies at 91


Robert Junior Lockwood was one of the last blues originals, Along in age and bound to leave eventually, Robert Junior has now taken leave at 91. Robert Junior was special.

I got to meet him in the days when I came to know Sunnyland Slim, and worked on The Sunnyland Blues. In my experience, Robert was imposing on one level, with a marked sense of self, and tremendously curious and open on another level too. He was nice just to take the time to field some questions, but he was furthermore kind in taking the trouble to figure out who I was.

He was wise to parse his time. My note taking and record keeping have always been scattered. In the days of putting together the Sunnyland Blues, it was really bad. I couldn’t find all the material I’d gathered during the research period, actually went through a fire along the way, which Robert understood, and I had to push to get the things done with what I had right at hand.

The time that Robert shared was of a wonderful help in writing that book, but his testimony did not get in it. I had hoped to expand the book with a section of verbatims, but Paul DeMark’s description of a trip with Slim South and West was all that made the way to the book.

But here on Moon Traveller Herald now are Robert Lockwood’s words. The connections between Slim and Robert were deep. They always met as deep friends. They both sought to learn from life – and they would share what they learned with others. Robert found the music business a dark place, and the things he told me in this regard were eye opening. Robert came to his first prominence backing Doctor Clayton – later, when Doctor Clayton died, Sunnyland came to his first prominence via a recording session in which he was billed as Doctor Clayton’s Buddy.

More on his career and music

* * *

The accompanying scanned image of Robert shooting pool shows him with Johnnie Shines [who is chalking his stick]. It is of a hand colored photo that appeared as the cover on the Rounder LP “Mister Blues is Back to Stay.” Johnnie Shines and Robert Jr. Lockwood were courteous enough to sign my copy of the record.

Robert Junior Lockwood, interviewed, Eldora St, Boston, ca. 1978

My first union card was from St. Louis, which is when I recorded my first records. I recorded my first records in 1940. I couldn’t get paid cause we didn’t have no damn social security card. Me and Doctor Clayton come to St Louis in 1940 and Lester Melrose recorded Doctor Clayton before [Mayo Williams] could get there then. But he didn’t want to record me. He did record me but he didn’t want to. We had a falling out right from the beginning.

He recorded Doctor Clayton and I guess it was maybe then just like it is now, people always want to take advantage and they’d rather for you to be dumb than to be wise. Doctor Clayton was educated. He was far from being dumb. And he had an exceptional voice. When Melrose found out we came to record for Decca, he got in a hurry then because Mayo Williams was in New York on some business an that’s who we come to record for. Plus Mayo Williams was black.

Anyway, he had got Big Bill to play on Doc’s first record and Doc wouldn’t let Bill play. That was very unusual too because all the black people that were playing blues at that time wasn’t calling no shots.

But Melrose didn’t let that come him and Clayton because he had an exceptional voice, and he was a hell of a damn good song writer. And really Clayton is the only somebody who got any money out of Melrose. I got some money out of him.

After we recorded Clayton, there was Ransom Knowling and Blind John Davis on piano. Ransom Knowling was on tuba and Judge Riley was playing drums. I think it was Judge Riley. Big Bill recorded after the first session. My session was a different day.

After he had recorded Clayton, there were quite a few people in Chicago who knew about me from my step-daddy Robert Johnson. Memphis Minnie’s husband Little Son Joe, Big Bill Broonzy, Johnny Temple, Lonnie Johnson.

At the time they were paying twelve-dollars-and-fifty-cents a side for a record. And I wouldn’t accept that. Twenty-five dollars. That’s all Lil Green got for In the Dark - and it was a hit. Twenty-five dollars! So with Doc’s help I got about eight-hundred-and-fifty dollars and a month’s rent in the hotel. Doc Clayton got about close to three-thousand dollars. Bill done okay. Tampa Red, Memphis Slim, nobody got as much out of Melrose as Doc Clayton.

During this time I didnt see Sunnyland - that was in 48 when I came there to live and ran into Sunnyland and Curtis Jones.

I knew of Sunnyland because we were both from Down South you know, but I really met Sunnyland in Chicago about 1950, 51. First somebody I played with when I went to live in Chicago was Curtis Jones. Curtis and me stayed together awhile. But there was a little something between us on account he was a pot head, he was smokin pot all the time and at that time they was real hard on that stuff. Marijuana was just like dope. But now they're talking bout making a misdemeanor out of it.

After so much time passed it got to be that all the musicians were going in that direction. Problem was if we was riding together and you had that kinda shit in the car and I'm in your car with you, we together!

After Curtis, I got with Sunnyland, I had a union card out of St. Louis then. Sunnyland helped me get my card from Chicago. Me and Sunnyland stayed together four or five years. Me and Sunnyland, Alfred, Little Sax Crowder. Two Alfreds: Alfred Elkins and Alfred Wallace, a drummer. We had a pretty good thing, for a long while. Me and Sunnyland were soundin so good till one man gave us three raises without us asking for them. That was a place called Sam and Gussies on Cottage Grove.

That's the first bandstand Junior Wells come into. About 13 years old, he played the harp pretty good. Sunnyland didn't want to be bothered with Junior. I said to Sunnyland: "Well, the people want to hear him play. Why dont you let him play?” Sunnyland said ok so I told Junior come on. And Junior started playing, sitting in with us, and we would give him all the tips people' d give us while he was in the bandstand yknow? Old Junior got to the place where he was making as much as we was making. His tips would just about come up to our salary. He wasnt dancing then - Junior got that shit from James Brown.

That was before Big Maceo had the stroke. After he had the stroke I played with him a lot. Big Maceo Merriweather. Then he had to have a real good guitar player cause his right hand was gone. Then I played with Sunnyland and from Sunnyland to [Little] Walter, Walter to Eddie Boyd. Then all this time I was recording with everybody. I played on a whole lot of recording sessions.

I was with Roosevelt Sykes when he had ten pieces. You shoula heard him with a band, man, his receptions with a band is just as good as Count Basie’s.

I never will forget, we played somewhere up in Michigan and the dude was trying to sneak out the back door with the money. Right out the door into our bus driver’s arms. The bus driver put a .38 in his back and brought him right on back in the building.

That was real funny. Yes sir, trying to steal out the backdoor. Musicians. People don’t know what we have to go through. They don’t know. Yeah that was real funny. I don’t care how good and harmless musicians are, if you stay in this business long enough it make them not trust people, turn them bad.

We had a packed house .. now the man shouldn’ta been hurting at all. Not at all. But he wanted it all. It’s been like that man, ever since it begin with the black musicians. I mean we’ve been getting ripped-off since the beginning. And it’s still happening.

And you know, what we we’re doing was abandoned from the society. That was not acceptable. Blues? It was abandoned from the white society and the only thing that made them people have to accept this was their kids started playin it. That’s the only thing. I don’t know, it’s kinda rough some time.

I remember Robert

Robert Junior Lockwood was very vivid. Some images of Robert:

Robert was very much into finding his own sound.

Robert was especially open to new sounds. Circa 1978 his band included a Fender Rhodes player. Slim sat in and played on it at the Speakeasy in Cambridge. He pronounced the Fender Rhodes: “Mickey Mouse.”

Robert was very close to his wife Annie. In Robert’s dressing room, if memory serves me, she shared her concoction of Hennesys and orange juice. I got the impression that, for her, Robert had a contract rider stipulating that a bottle of Henneys congac be placed in his dressing room.

Robert’s unique style in later years started with his guitar of choice .. a 12-string. Later when I heard African player like Sunny Ade and Ali Farka Toure, I hard a similar, kalimba like sound. Interesting.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Thinking of a dream


The Stardust closed a week before I got to Las Vegas for a conference. It's gold plated doors could not keep out the Lord's burning rain.So I stayed at Riviera. This part of the Strip for now is Lost in a Lost Land. I think one of the marquees said 'thanks for the memories' as if in homage to Woody Allen. Thinking about it: Today Jake and I in Salem overheard one witch girl tell another: We got to stick together we are all stardust.

On the way to Vegas

Morning morning
November Atalantic morning

Moon in haze
handing off hegemony

to redball sun

logan cnn
sadahm hussien
found guilty of crimes against humanity
shiites wave

once again a very pleasnt good morning
from united airlines

i pray
my heart in pain
and locate
nearest exit

mercury in transit
threat level upgraded
to orange
mrs steven hawkings

in denver
the suv

to las vegas
its futurama buffet
pretty cheap poison
golden vomitoriums
and I'm goin at the PeptoAbysmal
and I am focusing on getting home.

Donald Rumsfeld's mojo revisited

And the time is up! It's good to see y'all.
Q Mr. Secretary, one of the news weeklies said -- asked whether you had lost your mojo.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I didn't, but I consulted someone who did. And they asked me that, and I said I don't know what it means. And they said, in 1926 or something, it had to do with jazz music.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

A look at out-of-proc or RPC interop

For years, the concept of “Java-.NET interoperability” has been wrapped up in discussions of Web services and the like, but in truth there are a bunch of different ways to make Java and .NET code work together. One such approach is to host the JVM and the CLR inside the same process.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Interoperability across the wire

“As the Interop World Turns.” Ted Neward looks at commercial tools that provide a binary RPC-based interop approach. With such tools you follow a development process that’s (deliberately) similar to what’s done when working with the native ORPC stack (CORBA or RMI for Java, .NET Remoting for .NET).

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gas evidence suggests Moon not as dead as thought

Evidently, the moon has recently been letting slip gases, like carbon dioxide and steam, indicating that the rock's reputation as a cold, inactive orb is undeserved. SciAm

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Provider - A Prayer

George Morrison

At dawning, Christ is with me, as I begin my day.
Through all life’s trials He will lead me.

However rough the way at midday, He is present
No matter where I am. He’s the kind shepherd watching
Over His straying lamb, and in the hush of twilight,
When blooms and leaves are still, when birds to nest
Have taken and the sun is beyond the hill, I walk the
Garden pathways as drowsy night draws nigh,
Alone, it seems to others, yet not alone am I.

For with me walks the Savior. I feel His presence near,
Assuring with His promise to free my heart from fear.
No human friend or loved one, however close they be,
Provides the peace and solace that Jesus does for me.

- George Morrison, June 2006*

*I know George Morrison, although I never met him. His daughter, Jeanne, is Cecelia’s friend, and through Jeanne Cecelia got to know George in his last days, as he suffered manfully with cancer and saying goodbye to all this.

He was a life-affirming person, and Cecelia had some great tales to tell me of a couple of Connecticut casino trips with the Morrison’s. George had taken a highway in life, from Texas, to the Army toward the end of WWII and coming up on Korea. He brought up a family with his wife Mary, eventually to come to Hyannis on the Cape for many years where he ran Honest George’s Taxi service.

Honest George was a name he lived by. At his funeral, the spirit and stories flowed, and as we went to the Bourne veterans’ cemetery, I felt George’s presence every bit of the time, as the State Police made our way, as the usual day transpired beyond the envelope of the motorcade.

George was looking at the end in the days when Cecelia met with him, and I was especially touched by a poem he wrote, that was published in the funeral prayer card, a poem that is really a prayer. It reminds me of St. Patrick’s Prayer/Poem – of course though it is from George Morrison. Person walking earth with us until a day in July.

People usually fail at prayer writing these days. O Lord bless our distinguished alumni, bless our humble legislators as they struggle for the light, bless our pastor’s new SUV, and so forth. I think this one stands in time, and speaks for George’s Holy Spirit, and speaks for itself better than I do. It seems pretty clear that he saw God as Provider, and tried to provide in his turn as best he could, certainly for a family, and for customers, and now for the people who read what he has written. – Jack Vaughan

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Neward on platform interop: Check your politics at the door

Ted Neward writes: Over the last five years, there
’s been a quiet revolution under way, and it’s not the dynamic language revolution, nor the REST-HTTP-SOAP revolution, nor the agile revolution, nor AJAX. It’s not about containers or dependency injection or inversion.

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