Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sadie's Personality Lounge

St. Louis is one of the most blatantly segregated cities in the U.S... The north side is predominantly black and until recently the south side predominantly white. I’ve lived pretty much my whole life somewhere in the central corridor (no rules).

When we were 16 or 17 Marge, A. and I were invited to a blues club way north on Union called Sadie’s Personality Lounge.

We were asked there by our friend Freddy Morrell who was sitting in with the band. The idea was that I would sit in at some point. I recently spoke with Augustino Patti and he can verify everything I remember.

I’ll never understand why Sadie’s wasn’t shut down for serving minors. We were as conspicuous as it gets. Not only were we the only white people there but we were obviously just babies. The apparent lawlessness was a major part of the appeal.

I’m sure this happens to everyone when they become legal age but on my 21st birthday Dominic and I went to Mississippi Nights to celebrate. It was an empty experience. Hell, they didn’t even card me!

Anyway, the girls and I went into Sadie’s and the first thing that happened was a total shock. What must have been a 300 pound male double amputee grabbed me with one of his steel grasping claws and pulled me into the dance floor. I looked at my friends and said, “well, guess I’m gonna dance!”

Somewhere in here Freddy got me up on the stage and handed me a guitar. I started playing and the band’s singer looked up at me and asked, “Boy, did you go to music school?” It was the great Tommy Bankhead and I would have many adventures with him in my 20s at The Broadway Oyster Bar. At this point I was totally out of my element and totally green when it came to The Blues. It was like being in the heat of sex with a beautiful woman and she stops to ask what you’re doing.

To this day I won’t spontaneously jump on a stage to jam. Unless of course, it’s safe. For example in the 80’s I sat in with bands like The Soulard Blues Band, Leroy Pierson, The Heaters and others with a Theremin. If you don’t know what this is, Google it. I was probably the only person in town playing one at the time.

My fear of spontaneity has come back to bite me. I passed up sitting in with Chuck Berry and a few others. I’ll always regret it!

I wonder where Freddy is now.


paycheck said...

Fred's supposedly somewhere in the Northwest, either Seattle or Portland. He's had a checkered life, to say the least. My brother Augustino knows more than I, but he's playing gigs like crazy this weekend.

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