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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hey Bo Diddley!!! Hey Bo Diddley!!!

Jacksonville, Florida, June 2nd, 2008,
The cigar box guitar has been silenced,
Bo Diddley has passed on...

"She rolled right up to my front door,
Knocked an knocked 'till her fist got sore,
When she turned and walked away,
All I could hear my baby say:

Hey bo diddley, oh bo diddley,
Hey bo diddley, oh bo diddley."

Bo Diddley - "Have Guitar Will Travel"

I think that one of the most incongruous and kitsch album covers I have ever seen was the Bo Diddley record album "Have Guitar Will Travel" from 1959, and now that Bo Diddley has passed on, I was thinking that this also may symbolize the man - a mix of kitsch and flashy facade with the "real thing" to back it up.

What I mean is that behind the gimmick of the rectangular bodied bright red guitar, the flashy clothes, glasses and haircut, this man could really produce the goods!!
He created a new style of playing the electric guitar, a new set of jumpy Blues rhythms, and a treasure of catchy new songs in the Blues and Rock and Roll idiom.

Between 1955 and 1959 Bo Diddley wrote and recorded a number of unforgettable Blues and/or Rock and Roll songs that have become both standards of the Blues and Rock and Roll tradition, as well as identifiable icons for Bo Diddley himself.
Among these are:
I'm a Man,
Bo Diddley,
Who Do You Love,
Hey Bo Diddley,
Diddley Daddy,
Before You Accuse Me
You Don't Love Me (You Don't Care)
Hush Your Mouth
Bring it to Jerome
Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover (written by Willie Dixon)

Rest in peace Ellas "Bo Diddley" McDaniel
the angels up in heaven must now be dancing to a funkier beat!!!

Who Do You Love?
Ellas McDaniel (Bo Diddley) 1956

I walked forty-seven miles of barbed wire, I got a cobra snake for a necktie
A brand new house on the road side, and it's a-made out of rattlesnake hide
Got a band new chimney made on top, and it's a-made out of human skull
Come on take a little walk with me Arlene, and tell me who do you love?

Who do you love? Who do you love?
Who do you love? Who do you love?

I've got a tombstone hand in a graveyard mind,
just twenty-two and I don't mind dying

Who do you love? (4x)

I rode around the town, used a rattlesnake whip,
take it easy Arlene don't give me no lip

Who do you love? (4x)

The night were dark when the sky was blue, down the alley a ice wagon flew
hit a bump and somebody screamed, you should've heard what I seen

Who do you love? (4x)

Now Arlene took a-me by my hand,
she said "ooh ee Bo you know I understand, who do you love?"

Who do you love? (4x)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

This month at the Fingerboard Coffeehouse - Champagne Charlie!!!

On Saturday, November 26, 1977, in the basement of the 519 Church St. Community Center in Toronto, Canada, Thom "Champagne Charlie" Roberts gave a command performance at the Fingerboard Coffeehouse.
The poster for the Fingerboard was designed and drawn by my multi-talented cousin Elliott Rovan.
I had just taken over the management of the Fingerboard at the end of August, and I had befriended Champagne Charlie earlier in the year. I was quite honored to have an artist of his professional caliber and style in the club, as most of the artists who performed there were not necessarily seasoned professional musicians - many were on their way to becoming established or even famous, but few had the stature or history that someone like Champagne Charlie had at that time.
Champagne Charlie would play with his big chimney sweep moustache, opened the Martin guitar case with the large Donald Duck decal on the back, and pulled out his Martin 000-28 (triple "O" twenty eight), a sweet sounding guitar that I dreamed of buying for myself for only the last thirty years...
I don't recall the exact repertoire that he played, but most likely it included a few Rev. Gary Davis songs and instrumentals, as Thom taught me some of them later as our friendship progressed. Songs like "Death Don't Have No Mercy", "the Maple Leaf Rag", "Cincinnati Flow Rag", "Buck Dance" were regular parts of Champagne Charlie's arsenal, as were "The Beat From Rampart Street", "Yas Yas Yas", "Windin Boy", and other Ragtime and New Orleans parlor type Blues songs.

"The Beat From Rampart Street", a song by Larry "Fast Fingers" Johnson from his first solo album, is an upbeat two-step with a tricky double-syncopated beat that was very hard to learn at first - I think it took me two months or more before I could play that pattern automatically. That song is still one of my favorites, and I perform it to this day.

Here are the humorous lyrics:

"Well gather 'round people, gonna sing a little song
Pay close attention, 'cause it won't be long
Gonna sing about that beat, down on Ramapart Street

Looky here people what Rampart's done
Made Grandma marry her young grandson
When she heard that beat, down on Ramapart Street

Playin'nice an' easy,
Soft and sweet
When you hear that beat, down on Ramapart Street

Now I have a little cousin named Cripple Lou John,
He dropped his crutches and walked right on
When he heard that beat, down on Ramapart Street

Yeah John, nice to see you standing straight again
come on over and do that two step for us

Now my old aunty loved my uncle so
That she dropped her drawers like years ago
When she heard that beat, down on Ramapart Street

Now when I die, don't bury me at all,
Just pickle my bones in alcohol
Gonna hear that beat, down on Ramapart Street

You can hear it in the alley
You can hear cross the fence,
By golly it don't make no sense,
Talkin' 'bout that beat, down on Ramapart Street

Playin' all night long,
Let me hear that band moan
Playin'nice an' easy,
Soft and sweet
When you hear that beat, down on Ramapart Street,
that's all!"