Sunday, 22 August 2010

Watusi Rodeo

Well, I'm now 0-for-2 on Antenna Club reunions, having missed the recent lovefest organised this time by the club's long-time owner Steve McGehee. I heard mixed reviews, but I understand there were some outstanding performances along the way, undeterred by the oppressive heatwave Memphis has been suffering. However, both of the reunions held to date have just encompassed local bands, or bands/musicians who were local at the time. The local scene was a huge part of the appeal of the club in its day, as were the occasional big name acts who passed through, but there was also a steady stream of regional bands which came through in pretty heavy rotation, I can recall. Among these were The Bad Brains, Pylon, Jason and the Nashville Scorchers, Love Tractor, R.E.M. (before they got too big), and Guadalcanal Diary.

This remarkable video comes from the latter, and features footage (at 1:10 and 2:48) of the late James Grantham, a.k.a. "Dancin' Jimmy," a homeless Midtown Memphis alcoholic who, on the rare occasion when he could manage to sneak into the Antenna Club, would perform some unusual interpretive dance before being thrown out. (Here he is seen in Madison Avenue in front of Murphy's bar, with the Antenna sign visible in the background.) He was essentially a harmless character whom everyone around Midtown recognised, and some did what they could to help him out.

My friend and local film maker, Roy Barnes, at one time had some interview footage of Dancin' Jimmy, in which he claimed to have been a classmate of Elvis Presley's at Humes High School and also claimed that Elvis' first pink blazer was his inadvertent invention. The way I recall the anecdote, Jimmy had washed a pair of red socks in the bathtub with a white blazer, "...and when I come back that water'd done turned. I was gonna throw it away, but Elvis said, 'I'll take it.'" He was about the right age, and someone once said that they had managed to confirm that he did go to Humes High School, but who knows?

No comments: