“So, all I gotta do is make my mark on that dotted line, and you’re tellin’ me that you’ll take me all over the world, playin’ the blues for everybody?”
I dabbed the sweat from my head with my pocket square and nodded. It was a sweltering day already, and being in tight corners with this man, a massive woman he called his Mama (though I had my doubts), her wood burning stove, and a pot of boiling meat was more than I thought I could bear.
“Thing I don’t understand is I got all the food I can eat, all the drink I can swallow, an’ all the tail I can stand right now. Why would I want more?”
I began to formulate a response, hoping to play on his desire for immortality, when the large woman thrust a plate of boiled hog innards down in front of me.
“Ya see, me swallowin’ that deal’s about as likely as you swallowin’ a single bite of Mama Ray’s fine chitterlings.”
To drive his point home, he forked a piece of intestine, pulled it off the tines with his teeth, and began to chew, open-mouthed.
“Eat up, son, eat up.”
Following the success of W.C. Handy, and before the dark days of the Great Depression, Memphis was a hub from which recording studios would send out A&R men looking for the best of the Mississippi Delta Blues. I can only imagine that those A&R men would sometime find artists that were less than eager to sign with the pampered Yankee record label reps.