Home of the Crackers (Not the Braves)
You remember last time, I was living on peanut butter and goose liver sandwiches (not together), thanks to the Bank of Gibraltar. After taking twelve days waiting for my out-of-town check to clear the little short Daisy Mae girl behind the counter said, "Hi, you-all, you can have your money today." "Gimmee all of it!" I yelled. I stuffed it all in my pockets and ran like a bank robber to the nearest Walk-all-ovah-ya Bank branch and put it in there.
Now I gotta tell you – promoting records was not my idea of a lot of fun. My little office above the hardware store came with a desk, two chairs, a coatrack and one lactose intolerant mouse (his wife had left him.) I hired a woman to answer the phone and take record deliveries two or three days a week when I was out of town. Answering machines were very expensive back then. When she wasn't there and I was gone the calls went to a service. The woman's name was Martha and she brought her own portable typewriter. She sent out any letters I came up with and was a nice lady, but kind of hard to describe. She looked like a cross between my third grade teacher and the Queen of Clubs without the hat. She had another part-time job selling patriotic underwear. I bought boxer shorts in the shape of all 50 states. I didn't wear Alaska much, it kept getting caught in my zipper (you thought I was going to Florida, right?)
Across from my office was a nightclub called the Wagon Wheel. It had a wagon wheel out front and was located in the basement. From time to time "Piano Red" would play there. Red was a topnotch blues player who made some records, calling himself "Dr. Feel Good." He would work at a lot of black blues clubs playing "gut bucket" stuff (he had a great left hand.) But he could clean it up for the white bread crowd at places like the Wheel. Since I was with an R and B company I spent lots of nights at blues joints. They sure had a lot of real good players in Atlanta at that time. When I met Red he was just being discovered by all the British groups (the Rolling Stones were big fans of his.)
At the time I moved to Atlanta we had just put out an album called "Just for Kids and Real Swinging Adults." It not only had the Blendtones sides on it, but some other artists including the Extensions, The Martinels, Tiny Dee, and Cicero Blake. I must admit I wasn't such-a-much as a record promoter. My heart wasn't in it. But my other organs did the best they could.
I liked "small town" Atlanta. For example, there was an old neighborhood movie house up Peachtree Street. They had just changed from being an art house, showing foreign movies and serving wine, to being an odd house – showing odd movies and serving Bosco. Their first movie was "Tojo and Adolph Hitler Meet the Bowery Boys on the Moon," in Tohoscope. I opted to stay home and wash my feet in Braxoscope. I was also a big fan of the Atlanta Crackers triple-A baseball team. They were in the International League and played at Ponce De Leon Park, a small park for the league, about 6000 seats. The locals called it "Poncey." I guess the old boy didn't find the fountain of youth there either. But there was a water fountain with a permanent Out of Order sign and a picture of Moms Mabley's great grandmother wearing a conquistador hat. I also had a lot of fun hanging out with the guys in the black record business. After a night of drinking we would all try to sober up at rib joints. I remember one place where there was always a lot of laughing going on in the kitchen. When the cooks got a snootful they would play pin-the-tail-on-the-honky.
I would spend about half of my time on the road going to mostly black radio stations and one-stops. This went on for about two months. Then one day I got a call from Bill Leslie telling me we were out of business! The night before I had been out with my cousin Paul who was on leave from the Navy. We went to a few joints and later found ourselves on the lawn of a monastery (or as I like to call them, "a home for unwed brothers.") We had no idea how we got there, but a cop came along and said we had to stop singing Bringing in the Sheets and go home. Paul went home and I went to the office and was sleeping in a chair when I got the call. What a bummer. I was out of work again, and I still didn't have an aircheck.
(Whatever did I do?)
For the answer to this and lots of other questions you haven't thought of yet, tune in again next time.