Chapter 4: School, Cornets and Guitars (Book Excerpt)

Chapter 4: School, Cornets and Guitars (Book Excerpt)

Uncle Don had an extensive record collection of LPs. He encouraged me to go through his records and play them anytime I wished. He admired all the great trumpet players such as Roy Eldridge, Clifford Brown, Miles and Dizzy. He taught me to appreciate the orchestrated blues of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Ray Charles, too. He also had old 78-rpm records—perhaps left over from dad. I learned to play some of my first solos backed by those old phonographs. I had heard live blues in my home from the time I was born. But this was the first time I was fully aware of the artistry behind the recordings. I began to pay close attention to the subtle differences in style. Each artist had his own sound. I wondered how they did it. I was enthralled. Records seemed to be magical. I knew then, that one day, I too, wanted to become a recording artist.

Chapter 6: Tabby’s Blues Box (Book Excerpt)

Chapter 6: Tabby’s Blues Box (Book Excerpt)

One day, in 1979, Dad came home from his job a the plant rejuvenated. He told us excitedly of his new idea to open a blues club. He asked me and my brother Tammy and our cousin, Woodrow Vaughns, to help him convert the former drugstore and grocery into a juke joint. We started tearing out the rows of heavy wooden cabinets.

Chapter 1: The Last Real Juke Joint (Book Excerpt)

Chapter 1: The Last Real Juke Joint (Book Excerpt)

For some, Tabby’s had been a reminder of a crude past, best forgotten. The demolition would be a victory for moralist and old-time racists, who from the start, never approved of our risqué interracial late-night Hoodoo Parties. I was sixteen when dad founded the club in 1979 to reclaim Louisiana’s blues heritage. Over the years, the Blues Box had become an iconic hall representing a slice of Americana. Through the power of music and dance, Tabby’s helped to bring our segregated community from Post-Civil Rights era race riots to the door of America's promise and Martin Luther King's dream. Despite its significant cultural impact, the club could not cross the threshold of time and enter the promise of a new millennium. On the eve of its demise, it was evident, that sometimes, the past must remain in the past.