A 78RPM record signed by Baby Dodds is being auctioned on eBay. The recording is of Forty and Tight b/w Piggly Wiggly by Johnny Dodds and His Beale Street Washboard Band.
Speaking of washboards and Beale Street, I was fortunate to see another band, Lynn August and the Hot August Knights, play the washboard on Beale Street in the late 1980s. Earlier that day, we drove down to Memphis (from Chicago) to visit Graceland as part of a friend's bachelor party (but that's another story). Anyway, Lynn August played the washboard late into the Memphis night, and it was memorizing.
At the time, Beale Street was a dangerous place to be after midnight as I found out. When we left the jazz club at 2am or so, we discovered the mobile home we'd rented for the weekend had been burglarized. A friend had went ahead to retrieve the mobile home and noticed people jumping out of the back window as he approached the vehicle. Almost instantly, he was surrounded by police. In the confusion, he was briefly considered a suspect while the police rounded up the other would-be robbers who were in the process of making off with our large supply of liquor and other goods. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and, after some explaining, our somewhat drunk and very frightened friend, was released from police custody. The robbers totally demolished the interior of the mobile home and broke all the windows. We had to drive back to Chicago later that day, in the blazing heat of August, with no air conditioning. The partially wrecked, hulking mass of a vehicle broke down outside of Cairo, Illinois. (The muffler had somehow been crushed.) We were stranded in Southern Illinois for hours and hours, until a friend's sister came down and picked us up in a station wagon. It was a long, but unforgettable weekend.
But I digress. Back to our discussion of Baby Dodds: According to All Music Guide, Baby Dodds was arguably the first important jazz drummer. Baby Dodds was one of the earliest to vary his patterns during a performance; a strong example of his adventurous style can be heard on a trio performance (with Jelly Roll Morton and Baby's brother Johnny) of "Wolverine Blues" in 1927. A major influence on Gene Krupa, Dodds worked in New Orleans with Willie Hightower, Bunk Johnson, Oscar Celestin, and others and played with Fate Marable's riverboat band in 1918. He joined King Oliver in San Francisco in 1922 and settled in Chicago the following year. In addition to recording with Oliver's classic Creole Jazz Band, Dodds was an important part of sessions led by Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong's Hot Seven. He remained in Chicago for decades, performing and recording regularly with his brother, Johnny Dodds, until the clarinetist's death in 1940. During the traditional jazz revival, Baby played with Jimmie Noone, Sidney Bechet, Bunk Johnson, and Art Hodes, appeared on the This Is Jazz radio broadcasts of 1947, and visited Europe with Mezz Mezzrow the following year. During 1945-1946, he recorded the first unaccompanied drum solos. Despite ill health in the 1950s, Baby Dodds kept playing until two years before his death; his memoirs are well worth reading.
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