They checked our IDs at the door and in we went. It was dark and smokey inside. Two old men sat at a table in the back. The big one called himself The Blues Man. The other looked like a shriveled version of his friend and went by, The Rock. He had one arm. I was drawn to the duo and asked if they would sit down for an interview. The Rock was about to get on stage so appologized for not being able to help. But The Blues Man agreed to answer a few questions. I tried to record him on my voice recorder but, sorry friends, it somehow was deleted.. or I can't seem to retrieve it. But I did take some notes as well. So the experience is not all lost.
Mckinney Melvin Williams, stage name, The Blues Man, was born and raised in Lexington, Mississippi. He was a raised a gospel singer and always shied away from the blues on account of it's raunchy reputation. He was said he had always had a fascination with it, even as a small boy, but out of respect for his mama he kept it at a distance. I asked him, because this is something I've recently had on my mind if he thought you had to live a certain kind of life to really be able to sing the blues. He said he wasn't sure but you had to have experience "true meaning." Which I translate in to... understanding something, no matter what it is, truly and fully. I'm still mulling over the definition. But I like where he was going with that. He had only started performing as a blues musician three years ago. He had undergone a serious personal battle, as he considers himself a very religious man who tries to live his life as honest and pure as possible. But he had come to the conclusion that he could sing his own kind of blues, and not have to associate his lyrics with evil ways. He said he asked the lord to grant him the gift of music and the Lord has responded. He quotes, "My voice is the most beautiful thing I have ever heard."
I thanked Mckinney for his time and went back inside where The Rock was up on stage singing The Twist. So we all leapt up there and started to dance. I'm not much of a dancer myself. Anyone can tell you, and most of you can picture my silly little singular dance move which is more of a joke now than anything. But.. I was only going to be dancing in an "interracial" blues bar in Jackson, Mississippi once so I decided to go for it. The Rock even came off stage and taught me a few tricks. Let me tell you, dancing with a one armed man is quite the experience. Morgan and Brendan took us for a few spins on the dance floor as well and we all had quite a night.
As things were slowing down... around 4 o'clock am, we sat at the bar and talked to Miss Jackie Bell. she told us stories of touring around europe when she was younger. meeting all kinds of famous musicians. she was tall and rail thin, with tired eyes and a drunk slur. i got the impression she had once almost been somebody and had been chasing that high ever since. we all had a shot together and then said our goodbyes. the bartender gave us free shirts and wished us good luck.
we went back to our little motel room, both of our spirits high and with a growing appreciation and excitement about the trip ahead. we had been so lucky thus far and could not imagine what else was in store.