Dom Writes about Touring with Boo Hanks

inUncategorizedon January 14, 2014

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My favorite memory of being on tour with Boo Hanks was when he told me about the time he went to see Louis Jordan as a young man.  I’ve known Boo since 2006 and in my mind he is a Virginia songster who has stayed in his community since he was born and played in an esoteric style of music that was born from isolation.  Though I should’ve known better, this story turns that notion on its head.

 Purchase Boo Hanks & Dom Flemons Album: Buffalo Junction

When you are touring from place to place, you spend a lot of time in your vehicle passing the time through doing things like reading, listening to music and on the rare occasion, talking to each other.  I lean toward listening to music as much as I can and I tend to go into burst of different genres, one of them being 40’s R&B, Doo-Wop and Rock ‘n’ Roll.  As I was playing some of this music, the song “Saturday Night Fish Fry” by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five came up.  Boo mentioned that he had gotten to see him live.

My ears perked up and I asked Boo when he saw him live.  Boo told me that when he was in his late teens he used to visit his cousins in Baltimore, MD.  He would hop on the train in Virginia and ride it up to Baltimore, staying the summers with his cousins who had moved up to the city not too many years before.  One summer when he was up there he happened to catch Louis Jordan for a whole week when he played at the Regal Theater.  I tried to ask Boo more about the situation in which he went to see him as I had just finished the great book “The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and “Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” I had a million questions in my head.

 

He, sadly enough, had no more info than that it was a great time, and that he went to see Jordan when “Caldonia” was his big hit.  Boo said, “Boy, you should have seen me. I had my striped socks, parachute pants and chain going past my leg. I was a jitterbug, boy!”

 

To finish this memory out I want to transport you to this past November when we in the Music Maker Family celebrated the 86th Birthday of Captain Luke.  There were several performers playing that evening including Boo and myself. When Ironing Board Sam took the stage a little later the group went wild.  This included Boo, who stood up with his cane and started shaking it.  After working his legs a bit, Boo turned a profile and shuffled to the side and made a big exit.  Everyone said, “Wow, Boo was getting down and then he walked off.  Must have gotten tired…”

 Watch Boo Hanks Perform “Pickin’ Low Cotton”

I may have been the only who noticed what he was up to.  He wasn’t walking off.  He was truckin’, which is a dance that is like walking with a little extra jive on it.  Boo was showing off his jitterbug skills just a touch. Just like his song says, “Keep on truckin’ mama, truckin’ my blues, oh yesss, truckin’ my blues away!”

 

Here’s to you Boo,

 

Dom Flemons

The American Songster

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