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April 2009 Archives

John & Yoko's Montreal Bed-In

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LENNON.JPG     Hair piece? Where's Bob Greene?
    1 p.m. April 28-----

    Imagine if John Lennon and Yoko Ono had their 'Bed-In For Peace' today.
    Celebrity journalists would soak it up. There would be no vacancy at the bed-inn.

    But when John and Yoko camped out in suite 1742 of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel (now Fairmont) in Montreal between May 26 and June 2, 1969 they drew about 150 journalists on a daily basis. The hipster hobknobbers were not your Sean Penn/Brad Pitt types. Celebrities hanging around the bed included comic Tommy Smothers and Chicago activist-comic Dick    Gregory.

    On June 1, 1969 Lennon wrote "Give Peace a Chance" on the spur of the moment in the suite. Smothers, Gregory, space cowboy Timothy Leary and local Hare Krishna temple members sang along in suite 1742. Cartoonist Al Capp was in the house. He did not sing.
The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth is offering fans to experience their own "Bed-In" with an "Imagine" package in the John Lennon and Yoko Ono Suite (1742)......

Delta Road Trip Food List

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FILE0432.JPG The author after too many boiled crawfish at Shady Acres Fruit Stand, Hattiesburg, Ms. Note Waffle House iced tea, always a good chaser.

5 p.m. April 21----

Everyone likes them.
Hall and Oates even had a hit with "Kiss on My List."
I love the way Bob Dylan becomes a listamaniac on "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and Hank Snow sang the all time travel list in "I've Been Everywhere," later popularized by Johnny Cash. Long time reader/Chicago artist Margie Lawrence recently suggested I list the best regional restaurants I ate at during a road trip down Highway 61 to Natchez, Miss., over to New Orleans and back up Highway 49 through the Gulf Coast.
I made a note of it:

1. Ella Kizzie's peach cobbler pie at the Center for Southern Folklore, Memphis, Tn. ( GOOD FOOD).
The rich recipe is a secret, but an ample slice of homemade pie topped with nutmeg and ice cream is $4..................

Eddie Bo Remembered

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 smaller dave.jpg Eddie Bo, checking out his favorite New Orleans park. He was always one good foot ahead of the groove.

1:45 p.m. April 16---

I had not learned of the death of Edwin Joseph Bocage, Sr. (a.k.a. Eddie Bo) until last week when I visited New Orleans. The visionary Crescent City piano player had a 1962 hit with "Check Mr Popeye," updated by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. Little Richard recorded Bo's "Slippin' and Slidin' and Etta James had a hit with Bo's "Dearest Darling." His sense of wordplay in tunes like "Pass the Hatchet" are a precursor to hip-hop.
Bo died of a heart attack on March 18. He was 79.
In 2006 I talked Bo into taking a break from a busy New Orleans Jazz Festival weekend to meet me. I was on vacation, but I wanted to see Bo to preview his first-ever appearance in Chicago at the 2006 blues festival.
There was only one caveat: Bo insisted that the conversation take place on a Sunday morning near a small lake in Audubon Park........

"I come here to relax," Bo said while sitting on a park bench. "Music is a series of mathematical sounds that get to your emotions. It soothes people for a short while, anyway. If I didn't have music, I'd be like other people, jumping off bridges or whatever."
Katrina was still on his mind.
Bo looked around the park. It was quiet. Bo spoke in the rich, syncopated rhythms that underscore his music. His hit "Check Your Bucket" has become a staple of sets by Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans.
"Check your bucket?" Bo asked. "What does that mean? If your kisses fail to move her and your rap don't seem to groove her and your touch don't turn her on, you got troubles. You better check your bucket. That's what it means.
"Check yourself."

Bo checked in at Charity Hospital in New Orleans and was reared in Algiers and the 9th Ward. His remarkable resume included production credits with Irma Thomas, Art Neville and Al "Carnival Time" Johnson. He had his own 1962 hit with "Roman-Itis" and also wrote the 1963 Oliver Morgan smash "Who Shot the La La," which was a jazz fest standard until Morgan suffered a serious stroke. Bo cut a few sides with bandleader Paul Gayten for Chess Records and had many hits on the regional Ric and Cinderella labels out of New Orleans.
During the mid-1950s, Bo played in the New Orleans house band at the Club Tiajuana, a sister club of the legendary Dew Drop Inn near Charity Hospital. Soul singer Joe Tex lived above the Dew Drop Inn and Bo would catch Ray Charles when he passed through town. The Dew Drop Inn was open between 1938 and 1969. Little Richard was discovered there. It was one of the most important music clubs in the Deep South.

"People just don't get that type of experience anymore," Bo told me. "There's no hangout place. I was beginning. After the gig, there were at least 10, 15 trumpets, saxophones, maybe a dozen bass players. Everyone came to that one place because we couldn't go anywhere else. Dinah Washington, Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughan. I couldn't keep up. Dinah would play as much piano as you wanted to hear. We enjoyed what we did because we passed things on to each other. We'd hang out until daybreak.
"Ray Charles was playing with Guitar Slim. One day, we were rehearsing in an outer room upstairs at the Dew Drop. Ray was playing piano and crying. I said, 'What's the matter?' He kept playing and then he paused for a minute and said, 'If I could only hear my mother pray again.' That moment put me in a different frame of mind musically, because what he played was from his heart. He was crying and playing. I can't begin to explain the experience."

Bo eyed the lake. Swift ripples were being formed by a lean second line. "Look at that," he declared. "That's a water moccasin. That is no water to play in."

In 1989 Bo studied at the Yaweh Institute in New Orleans. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune he said the institute "teaches en that we should seek love and distribute love, and seek to be moral." During the early 1990's Bo's early evening piano gig was a staple at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville in the French Quarter.

Bo was called "The Thelonious Monk of New Orleans R&B" due to his intricate exploration of rhythm schemes. He's also an accomplished carpenter. His family comes from a line of shipbuilders, and Bo rebuilt a former New Orleans doctor's office into the Check Your Bucket Cafe, which he ran with his sister Veronica Randolph for two years before the club was taken out by Hurricane Katrina. They did not reopen.

Bo equated carpentry with music.

He leaned over and told me, "You need a mathematical mind for both. You need to know the 16/18/20 beats. You need to know how to voice horns and strings and where to put them on the track. You don't have to write charts when you're dealing with minds that are good with rhythmic patterns."

Bo's studo was in a century-old New Orleans firehouse with separate rooms for guitar, drums and piano.

"During Katrina my roof decided it liked another neighborhood, so it left," he said. "I'm in the process of putting on another one." Bo lost his previous Tulane Avenue studio in a fire. "Katrina is going to bring a lot of things together," Bo continued. "And things have to come together to be successful. We've been divided in different areas for so long. Music and politics definitely don't go together. Musicians are free to observe what's going on and to try to give people some healing. And as far as I'm concerned, I'm just starting."

Waffle Housing

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DSCF0386.JPG Beef and a beacon in the night.

12:20 p.m. April 15---

We were hungry.
Adriana and I were camping on a mountaintop an hour south of Tupelo, Miss. along the Natchez Trace. It was around 10 p.m. and the heavens were clear. The sky was a star-filled skillet and the heat of possibility kept me warm against a cool breeze.
But were hungry for something. The boiled peanuts we picked up at the Shady Acres Fruit Stand on blue Highway 49 outside of Hattiesburg didn't do the trick. Adriana was longing for a can of Colt 45. I missed my Diet Mountain Dew.
We awoke early the next morning with empty stomachs. We exited the pristine trace around Tupelo and we agreed we would not stop until we found a Waffle House.
No Huddle House.
No Toddle House.
It had to be a Waffle House......

Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.


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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2009 is the previous archive.

June 2009 is the next archive.

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