Friday, August 11, 2006

James Harman's thoughts on Sam Myers.

I've received many replies from my Sam Myers obit. This one is my favorite. From one great bluesman/harp legend, about another. I've long called James Harman (left) "the blues' best story teller." Whether in a 12 bar song or an e-mail, this helps prove my point.

Phil Chesnut

Very nice Phil,

I'm sure we all thank you for this most kind and thoughtful piece, remembering a fallen brother. I will certainly miss my old buddy Sweet Sam Myers myself.

I wish you could have been there to see a dozen magazine photographers following us around when Sam, Charlie Musslewhite and I went 'walking the grounds' for a long overdue chi-chat-visit at the huge Peer Festival in Belgium. I finally asked one photographer why we generated so much interest for them. I was told that we represented their first look at all three of the real southern blues singer/harp players together. Of course we got a kick out of that! In fact Sam said, "Now ain't this a bitch, they act like we was Liz Taylor or some such bullshit." Then he proceeded to introduce me from the stage as being his old chum from way back in our high school days in Mississippi. He went on that after graduation we went our separate ways, since he went to 'Penn State' and of course, I went to the state pen! Ka Ka Ka Boom! Brother, that was a Sam kind of gag.

My personal favorite story was the time in Texas, when Sam insisted on showing us the way to the real-deal southern breakfast place called Maryann's. He insisted we all go in my bus, with him giving directions. He climbed up into the bus and sat right behind Jerome Starks, my 'coach operator' (now don't 'chu call him no bus driver)! Sam kept giving last minute and abrupt directions like "cut through this parking lot, it's faster...... go down that alley and swing-out behind the liquor store then hang a U-turn into that driveway... its a short cut!"

Jerome immediately started grimacing and giving me 'the look,' on every new piece of direction Sam gave him. Jerome was sweatin' it out, but as always, he managed to correctly guide that 40 foot long, 12 foot high, 10 foot wide and 30 ton heavy GMC Scenicruiser through this scary, way-too-narrow, road course event Sam had conjured up for our breakfast trip. To say the least, it was quite involved. However, he proved out to know exactly what he was talkin' about and soon we did find the joint.

For the next two hours we nearly killed ourselves on a great southern breakfast featuring serious fried eggs and green tomatoes, grits, biscuits and even more serious white ham gravy and wonderful coffee! For our return to the hotel Sam chose a different and even more confusing route. As we made one of the tight, difficult turns from one small street onto another Sam suddenly blurted out, "Damn James, did you see the tits on that fine chick in that Volkswagen?" That did it! "Stop the bus!", I screamed staring at Sam in disbelief. Still giving him a dirty look I said, "Look here Sam Myers...... I didn't even see the car or the fine chick, much less any tits.... man, I though you was supposed to be blind" Grinning that devilish grin back in my directions, while doing his patented eyes rolled way back thing, he slowly managed: "Heh heh heh heh heh, well, brother James... I just might see mo' than y'all think I can, sometimes!" Well, that did it for me, I never assumed he wasn't seeing everything going on again.

I only hope you didn't trick everybody out there, who knows less blues history, into thinking Sam played drums on all those Elmore James records. He only played on three songs, as a fill in.... and only for the Fire label. He never played drums on any of Elmore's famous earlier records on Chess, Chance, Modern, RPM or Trumpet! I also think you should have mentioned his one and only successful record under his own name, 1958's: "My Love is Strong" b/w "Sleeping in the Ground", which was his only claim to fame until resurfacing in the mid 80's and eventually joining Anson. I think those are important points. Otherwise, it's nice to hear from you and I hope you are doing well. You know I loved your rendering of that cool Sam photo.

Yo'boy... James

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