(AN EXCERPT FROM) 'RILEY'S BLUES'
A POEM BY JEFF KNIGHT
He went to all the blues jams
at all the black clubs on Beale Street, and
(Oh My God!)
He cut their hearts out.
He cut their hearts out, night after night, blue note
after blue note rising, falling, tumbling liquid from
that big Gibson guitar, sad and sweet and smart,
fusing the styles of T-Bone Walker and Blind
Lemon Jefferson, city smoke and country dirt,
all bent strings and fat tone.
He started working Django Rheinhardt's
jazz flourishes into his Delta blues,
he had vocabulary,
he made something new,
he cut their hearts out.
Tuesday, March 25
The Majestic Theater
226 E. Houston
He started playing his guitar
along with R&B records on the air.
Can you imagine this?
It is, oh, let's make it 1948,
you're driving through Memphis,
and as you cross the river you
tune in to WDIA and happen to catch
the HeeBee JeeBee Radio Show,
and you hear Howlin' Wolf,
or Dinah Washington,
or Junior Parker,
or Sonny Boy Williamson
cranking through the static
with additional guitar from the DJ,
and it's Little Riley
King all grown up,
Beale Street Blues Boy King
they called him, and later
it was just