When OffBeat did its tribute to Fats Domino, C.C. Adcock and Derek Huston served as musical directors, and we put together a horn line that included Domino alumni Herbert Hardesty, Elliot “Stackman” Callier and the Dirty Dozen’s Roger Lewis. One afternoon, Adcock, Huston and I were planning over coffee when Lewis passed by walking his dog. He joined us and started telling us stories – how when he joined Fats’ band, he didn’t have a baritone sax and faked it by playing low notes on his tenor and hiding from Fats at the far end of the horn line, how Fats gave him the look onstage to say he knew, and how Lewis bought a bari and went out in a field to practice on it far from prying eyes and ears, only to later discover that Dave Bartholomew was watching from his hotel window the whole time.
After he left, Adcock said something to the effect of, “That’s why we’re doing this – for the hang,” the time spent with rock ‘n’ roll history. I think he was paraphrasing Ponderosa Stomp organizer Ira Padnos, but whatever, “the hang” came to mind earlier this week when talking on the phone to soul singer the Mighty Hannibal for our coverage of this year’s Stomp (Apr. 29 and 30 at the House of Blues). I needed a photo of him and the publicist said call him (which I take as a sign that the inefficiency of dealing with the old dudes was wearing him out, though he says not), and everything about the next 15 minutes was pirate treasure, even if it was hopelessly inefficient.
The deep voice at the other end answered, “Hello,” and when I asked for James – Hannibal’s real name – the voice asked who was calling. When I introduced myself, the voice got higher and more animated. “Yeah, baby, what do you want!” He rolled into some shtick that I recognized from out writer’s interview with him, then asked, “You got any Obama supporters there?” When I said yes, he was excited because he’s got a new Obama song that he’s going to lay on us, and he sang me a verse that I can’t remember. When he finished, he said, “and you can print that!”
When we got around to business, he asked me which photo from his MySpace page I wanted, but I started to describe it, he stopped me. “What am I wearing in it? I’m blind.” He asked me to give my name and number to a friend of his and she’d take a message for his manager, “but she doesn’t speak any English.” Then he shouts off-phone, “Young lady! Young lady!” I can’t guess at their relationship now, but a woman takes the phone, asks, “Yes?” And as I spell “A-L-E-X” she repeats “A-E-O-X.” I briefly, patiently correct her, but I knew that message wasn’t going anywhere.
After our spelling bee, Hannibal gets back on the line and instructs me to hang on, that he’s going to hang up and the phone will go to his voicemail, where I can leave what I need and he’ll make sure his manager gets it. Not surprsingly, when he hangs up, the phone went to a dial tone and stayed at a dial tone. No voicemail. As business goes, it was a wasted 15 minutes, but it was great hang.