Never Satisfied: Willie Dixon Refused to Serve…Anything But the Blues

Never Satisfied: Willie Dixon Refused to Serve…Anything But the Blues

“Blues are the roots, the rest are the fruits.”

— Willie Dixon

Willie Dixon

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

His momma was weeping by now and Willie knew it. That’s why he couldn’t tell her, couldn’t look Miss Daisy in the eye and let her know he was leaving for Chicago. It would hurt too much—him more than her, maybe. So he left while she was at church. He stuffed some clothes in a pillowcase and ran to the rail yards with his friend Shedrick, never looking back. He couldn’t look back. Willie Dixon had to get out of Mississippi.

The boys slipped aboard a boxcar as the freight train rumbled out of Vicksburg. There were at least a dozen men crouched in the empty car and dozens more inside other cars on that train. Most of the men were much older than the two young black boys and many were white.  The train rolled and rattled through the Delta forest and by the old plantations near Greenville and Cleveland and past the cypress bayous and strange Indian mounds outside Rosedale and Shelby. The car was hot and it stank of human piss and shit. willie dixonEven though Willie was big for his age, though and smart and confident, he was just a bit little scared as the train slowed before pulling into the rail yard outside Clarksdale.

The boys jumped off as the boxcar crawled to a stop, following the other men as they walked down the road, waiting to catch the next northbound train on the other side of the big yard. The boys were startled when a police wagon pulled up behind them.  Deputies poured out of the truck and began arresting some of the men, including Willie and Shedrick. In his biography, Dixon recalled that only the blacks were arrested that day. The whites were allowed to walk away. The boys were handcuffed, thrown into the wagon with about 20 other black men and driven to the jail in Clarksdale. The next day the county judge convicted the two boys of hoboing and sentenced them to sixty days of hard labor at the Harvey Allen County Farm, one of the most brutal prisons in a state known for brutal prisons. Willie Dixon had just turned thirteen years old and his friend Shedrick Johnson was only ten.

But age didn’t matter to the Clarksdale sheriff or the judge. This was harvest time and the county farm needed forced labor to pick the cotton. Blacks of any age were rounded up on minor charges, such as vagrancy and public drunkenness, and made to work in the fields and mills……….

for the remainder of this excellent article on one of the pioneers of the blues check out Counterpunch

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Gene Krupa and the Splash Cymbal

Fun drum fact for drummer friends…

The original and traditional splash, like many of the cymbal types in a drum kit, was invented and named by Gene Krupa in collaboration with the Avedis Zildjian Company.

Widely used in the jazz music of the 1920s and 30s, this traditional splash cymbal was not seen for many years in mainstream music until Stewart Copeland playing in The Police brought it back to prominence. Thanks to a toy cymbal he found in a trip in Asia and which he brought to Paiste, heavier splash cymbals, more suited to this style of drumming, were soon available and started being heavily commercialized.

A third phase in the development of splash cymbals occurred when china splash cymbals became popular. These added a new dimension to drumming in their own right, and also led to the development of cymbal stacks.

Several other types that are now regarded as splash cymbals, such as bell and salsa cymbals, have more quietly been added to the kits of leading drummers and to the catalogues of major cymbal manufacturers over the years. Today much of the color of an extended drum kit is provided by the wide variety of splash cymbals available.

live music in vancouver

What it felt Like to Know I had over 5,000 Events Listed on

What it felt Like to Know I had over 5,000 Events Listed on for cheap or free Live Music in Vancouver

Over a beer the other day, I casually remarked to someone that I had 5,000 cheap or free live music in Vancouver events listed.  They looked at me quizzically and asked, “That’s pretty remarkable.  What does it feel like to know you have over 5,000 events listed?”

The question struck me as odd as I had never really analyzed it; but it did give me pause to ponder on this for while.

Obviously, when you are in the throes of updating and checking information you are not really thinking about how many tidbits of data is listed there, let alone the sum total of them.

This is some of the history of this site.

I began last fall…..early September, I believe and it is a labour of love.

After starting to get this set up last fall I realised it was a pretty big project and I know I worked really, really hard at it the first few weeks I was doing it.  I also knew I had to purchase some technical plug-ins that would allow me to do some things more quickly and easily.

A big shout out here to Modern Tribe Inc for their Events Calendar…..a very fine product indeed.

I have always loved music and especially live music.  When I was young I would often attend 10-12 live shows per month.  Maple Leaf Gardens, The Masonic Temple, Exhibition Stadium, Massey Hall and most of the venues on Queen Street in Toronto were my second homes.

I felt at times like it was my duty to attend shows and report on them back to my grade 11 cohorts.

I loved being ahead of the musical curve then and I love keeping up this blog now.  It feels great to know you are helping people find music they did not know previously existed and it’s great to introduce them to shows and music that they may end up really enjoying.

Also, doing this gets me out of my comfort zone to go and see lots and lots of shows.  Something I had lost track of; but dearly love again., as of this writing, has over 5,000 cheap or free live music events listed in and around the Vancouver, British Columbia area.

Lots of these live music events are concentrated downtown and in the Gastown area (where I live) but the towns of Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, White Rock, Nanaimo and other places too numerous to list have some representation also.  (Let me know venue owners:  I will push your gigs…….) is starting to get more traction with venue owners and with musicians (bless your hearts, you know who you are) who provide me with updated and current promotional materials, information about other bands I should check out and even the odd free beer.

In conclusion, it has taken me 7 months to get to 5,000 events.  I am hoping to have 10,000 up by the one year anniversary of this site.

It is great to give back to a musical community that has given me so much and I will continue to do this so long as it is enjoyable, fun and educational for myself and for others.

Cheap or Free Live Music Events in Vancouver


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Cheers, D