Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Jackson to Memphis

The reason these images look old and faded is that I'm scanning the pieces of an old hand-worn wooden puzzle from 1915. The states are a tad distorted, stained and faded. But so are we all.
I caught WUMS briefly in Oxford, a little WJSU, and WMPR out in Jackson but was sorely disappointed. WEVL was playing a great swing show tonight called the Swing Shift Shuffle hosted by Tim Taylor a volunteer. He plays exclusively big band and jazz of the 1930s and 1940s: Cab Calloway, Chick Webb, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Louis Jordan... etc. It's got a jazz bent not a pop one. The effect is to permanently bond the program ethos with Memphis itself, the birthplace of Rock n' Roll.

Rufus Thomas got his start in Memphis. The world's oldest teenager is not Dick Clark. It's Memphis-icon Rufus Thomas. Rufus performed in theaters as a teen as a dancer, singer and comedian. He woudl grow up to host a program called "Hoot and Holler" on WDIA where he gave hundreds of blues and rock artists their first shots including BB King.

In the 1950s, he went on to score hit own hits for Sun Records, and Stax. Actually in the 1960s his "Walking the Dog" was just huge and he became an artist in his own right. In the 1970s he did the song "Do the funky chicken" and "do the push and pull" scoring big bucks on the dance craze. He made the blues hall of fame in 2001.