4 November 2016

Post 443: ME'N'HANDY

Only once in my life have I been to Memphis, Tennessee. That was on 17 October 2016. Naturally, I headed to Beale Street.



And of course I had to be photographed with the statue of the great William Christopher Handy.


I also enjoyed seeing the house where he lived for the eight years during which he led his own band playing on Beale Street, and wrote some of his best-known work, establishing the importance of the 12-bar blues. In fact, a few recordings of Handy and his Memphis Orchestra, made in 1917, still exist (you can find them on YouTube).

The house was originally located at 659 Janette Street, but was transported in 1983 to this new site tucked away just behind Beale Street, near the statue. 

Handy in 1892

Handy lived from 1873 to 1958. Apart from being a trumpet-player and band-leader, he is best known as a composer - 'The Father of the Blues'. Among his compositions are some of the most enduring pieces in the traditional jazz repertoire: Memphis Blues, St. Louis Blues, Beale Street Blues, Ole Miss Rag, Chantez Les Bas, Atlanta Blues, Yellow Dog Blues, and Aunt Hagar's Blues.

Unfortunately, on the one day when I was in Beale Street, the live music in the bars was disappointing. But I guess I was just unlucky. Apart from 'meeting' W. C. Handy, my greatest pleasure in Memphis was a lovely stroll by the Mississippi.

And my wife was thrilled to meet local resident Melvin - just three weeks old. Melvin's ambition is to become a jazz trumpet player.