Tail Dragger - American People
  • 01 Bought Me A New Home
  • 02 American People
  • 03 You Gotta Go
  • 04 My Woman Is Gone
  • 05 Bertha
  • 06 My Head Is Bald
  • 07 Don't Start Me Talkin'
  • 08 Bad Boy
  • 09 Ooh Baby (Hold Me)
  • 10 Long Distance Call
  • 11 Betty
  • 01 Bought Me A New Home
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:17) [10.1 MB]
  • 02 American People
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (05:13) [12.23 MB]
  • 03 You Gotta Go
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (05:56) [13.91 MB]
  • 04 My Woman Is Gone
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (08:48) [20.43 MB]
  • 05 Bertha
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (05:04) [11.91 MB]
  • 06 My Head Is Bald
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (05:53) [13.77 MB]
  • 07 Don't Start Me Talkin'
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:30) [10.6 MB]
  • 08 Bad Boy
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:34) [10.75 MB]
  • 09 Ooh Baby (Hold Me)
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:50) [11.36 MB]
  • 10 Long Distance Call
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (05:58) [13.95 MB]
  • 11 Betty
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (05:00) [11.75 MB]
Biography
Click Here for more Delmark Releases!

Tail Dragger – American People
Delmark DE 728 (1999)
Compact Disc

Tail Dragger (born James Yancy Jones in Altheimer, Arkansas) strides into Smokedaddy’s on Division Street like a politician greeting his loyal constituency. He towers over the crowd in his cowboy boots and Stetson, shaking hands and shouting his trademark “Whatchusay!” welcome. “American People” is the second number of the set, and he hits it off with obvious relish. He pleads on behalf of Bill Clinton and admits to some indiscretions of his own. He asks people for understanding on both of their accounts; “We all have done wrong, says the Tail Dragger. Forgive Bill. Forgive me. Mercy!”

Tail Dragger has remained a presence on Chicago’s west side blues circuit for many years, playing at The 5105 Club, The Rat Trap, Dave and Thelma’s, Mary’s Lounge, The Delta Fishmarket, at 345 S. Pulaski and others. He’s often been compared to Howlin’ Wolf and after listening to American People you’ll understand why the Wolf himself once said of Tail Dragger, “One day this boy gonna take my place.”

Recorded on October 15 and November 3, 1998 at Riverside Studio, Chicago

Tail Dragger American People Delmark DE-728

1. Bought Me A New Home (Jones) 4:13
2. American People (Jones) 5:03
3. You Gotta Go (Jones) 5:53
4. My Woman Is Gone (Jones) 8:43
5. Bertha (Jones) 5:00
6. My Head Is Bald (Jones) 5:49
7. Don't Start Me Talkin' (Sonny Boy Williamson) 4:26
8. Bad Boy (Eddie Taylor) 4:30
9. Ooh Baby (Hold Me) (Howlin' Wolf) 4:46
10. Long Distance Call (Muddy Waters) 5:53
11. Betty (Jones) 4:59

Tail Dragger (aka James Yancey Jones) - vocals
with

1. Bought Me A New Home
Rockin' Johnny, guitar
Billy Branch, harmonica
Aron Burton, bass
Baldhead Pete, drums

2. American People
Johnny B. Moore, guitar (solo)
Rockin' Johnny, guitar
Billy Branch, harmonica
Aron Burton, bass
Baldhead Pete, drums

3. You Gotta Go
Johnny B. Moore, guitar
Rockin' Johnny, guitar (solo)
Eddie Shaw, tenor sax
Willie "Vamp" Samuels, bass
Rob Lorenz, drums

4. My Woman Is Gone
Johnny B. Moore, guitar (1st solo)
Rockin' Johnny, guitar (2nd solo)
Billy Branch, harmonica
Aron Burton, bass
Baldhead Pete, drums

5. Bertha
Johnny B. Moore, guitar (1st solo)
Rockin' Johnny, guitar (2nd solo)
Aron Burton, bass
Baldhead Pete, drums

6. My Head Is Bald
Jimmy Dawkins, guitar (1st solo)
Rockin' Johnny, guitar (2nd solo)
Billy Branch, harmonica
Aron Burton, bass
Baldhead Pete, drums

7. Don't Start Me Talkin'
Johnny B. Moore, guitar
Rockin' Johnny, guitar (solo)
Martin Lang, harmonica
Willie "Vamp" Samuels, bass
Rob Lorenz, drums

8. Bad Boy
Johnny B. Moore, guitar (solo)
Rockin' Johnny, guitar
Billy Branch, harmonica
Aron Burton, bass
Baldhead Pete, drums

9. Ooh Baby (Hold Me)
Johnny B. Moore, guitar
Rockin' Johnny, guitar (solo)
Eddie Shaw, tenor sax
Willie "Vamp" Samuels, bass
Rob Lorenz, drums

10. Long Distance Call
Johnny B. Moore, guitar (solo)
Rockin' Johnny, guitar
Martin Lang, harmonica
Willie "Vamp" Samuels, bass
Rob Lorenz, drums

11. Betty
Johnny B. Moore, guitar
Rockin' Johnny, guitar (solo)
Martin Lang, harmonica
Karl Meyer, bass
Rob Lorenz, drums

Tail Dragger (born James Yancy Jones in Altheimer, Arkansas) strides into Smokedaddy’s on Division Street like a politician greeting his loyal constituency. He towers over the crowd in his cowboy boots and Stetson, shaking hands and shouting his trademark “Whatchusay!” welcome. “American People” is the second number of the set, and he hits it off with obvious relish. He pleads on behalf of Bill Clinton and admits to some indiscretions of his own. He asks people for understanding on both of their accounts. We all have done wrong, says the Tail Dragger. Forgive Bill. Forgive me. Mercy! Tail Dragger has remained a presence on Chicago's west side blues circuit for many years, playing at The 5105 Club, The Rat Trap, Dave and Thelma’s, Mary’s Lounge, The Delta Fishmarket, at 345 S. Pulaski and others. He's often been compared to Howlin' Wolf and after listening to American People you'll understand why the Wolf himself once said of Tail Dragger, "One day this boy gonna take my place."

Produced by Steve Wagner

Send for a free catalog of jazz and blues:
Delmark Records
4121 N. Rockwell
Chicago, IL 60618
C P 1999 Delmark Records

Tail Dragger strides into Smokedaddy’s on Division Street like a politician greeting his loyal constituency. He towers over the crowd in his cowboy boots and Stetson, shaking hands and shouting his trademark “Whatchusay!” welcome. He’s late—another trademark—and his lanky frame is bent as if in apology; he grins sheepishly with a look that begs forgiveness. At the bar he straddles a stool backward, facing the bandstand, and studies the audience with a beneficent smile. He orders a beer and lights a cigar with great satisfaction.
Bill Clinton is bombing Iraq this evening, the first of three nights of raids before Ramadan begins and also before Henry Hyde takes the Impeachment vote in the House.
Never at a loss for an opinion, Tail Dragger launches into a heated monologue: “Why would people think he’s doin’ this to throw the man off impeachin’?” he asks. “He’s got advisors: he have to do what they say to do. He can’t just go and do things. But a lot of people, they don’t stop and think.”
Tail Dragger has a Clinton connection, and he states in the lyrics to “American People” that he knew the Clintons in Arkansas.
“Bill Clinton’s mother and my auntie used to work together down in Hot Springs,” says Tail Dragger. “Bill Clinton’s uncle had a Buick dealership there. His name’s Raymond Clinton and he was on the board of directors of the airport in Hot Springs where I worked. My uncle bought his first car from Bill Clinton’s uncle. And my uncle got me the job at the airport.”
“I don’t care what they say,” Tail Dragger says of the Monica Lewinsky affair, “They all done it. You know Roosevelt had a girlfriend and Kennedy did, too.” He’s practically reciting the lyrics to his new song, “American People.”
“Let the man run the country,” says Tail Dragger, slowly stressing every word with his open hands held wide to suggest that nothing is more obvious.
Besides the fact that both are from Arkansas, Tail Dragger has something else in common with Bill Clinton: he knows well the ambiguities and the contradictions of human behavior. He can see more clearly than the Republican leaders do how a regrettable act should be weighed with the good work that an individual accomplishes in public life.
After Tail Dragger steps to the microphone, “American People” is the second number of the set, and he hits it off with obvious relish. He pleads on behalf of Bill Clinton and admits to some indiscretions of his own. He asks people for understanding on both of their accounts. We all have done wrong, says the Tail Dragger. Forgive Bill. Forgive me. Mercy! It’s a great performance.
Tail Dragger seems to be a wholly unlikely penitent. Brash and mischievous, he begs theatrically for forgiveness. It’s a major theme of his work. He pleads in the role of a reformed philanderer throwing himself one final time at the mercy of his lover, he crawls great lengths on his knees like a religious ascetic seeking salvation, or like a man imploring with hand-wringing desperation the powers-that-be for clemency and a new chance at life. But underlying the theatrics is there a real desire for atonement?
His act has changed very little since I first saw him crawling the floor, singing and howling right to people’s faces at the Rat Trap in the early seventies. But his life is quite changed since then. He has been given a second chance and he appears to be trying to make the most of it.
• • •
Tail Dragger was born James Yancy Jones in Altheimer, Arkansas on September 30, 1940. He learned to play guitar after first fooling around on a broomwire that his father had attached to the side of his house, but was forced to give it up after his fingers were crushed by a transmission assembly in a car he was repairing.
He sang at church and later learned blues songs that he heard on his grandmother’s radio at night.
“I couldn’t sing around the house because my people were real Christian,” says Tail Dragger. “We had a battery radio 'cause we didn’t have no electricity,” he explains. “And so what I would do, when my grandmother and them would go to sleep, I’d take the radio and put it under the pillow. I listened to Howlin’ Wolf on Randy’s Record Mart and, I don’t know, I just fell in love with it.”
“Some of the other kids, they’d tell me to howl for them and man, I used to try to howl so I couldn’t talk. Everybody’d be laughin’ and tellin’ me to howl and I’d enjoy it, man, so I just be doin’ it. Durin’ recess at school, I’d be out in the hall and all the girls be around me listenin’ to me, you know. And I had a notebook I kept my papers in—and I had the songs wrote...I had 'em wrote on my bookcase, you know.”
When he got a little older he would sneak off to a joint in Pine Bluff called Jack Rabbit’s where he saw guitarist Boyd Gilmore accompanying Rice Miller.
“I was too young to be in there, but I’d slip in there...And Sonny Boy Williamson, he have his harps in a tub, you know, one of them round tin tubs? ...He’d have ’em layin’ in the tub: he’d reach in the tub and get one when he wanted to blow that harp. And he used to have rubber boots, and he would cut the top off ’em and have ’em cut like a shoe....And Boyd Gilmore, he’d be playin’ guitar. He had a strong voice, you know—his voice was similar to Howlin’ Wolf, but wasn’t exactly like him. Them were the first ones [musicians] I seen. I didn’t see Howlin’ Wolf until I came to Chicago.”
He first traveled to Chicago in 1954 to visit the mother he hadn’t seen since he was a child. He came again in ’59 and stayed until ’61, and then following a stay in Dallas and several years in the army, he returned to Chicago in 1966 where he has remained.
While in the service he inspected vehicles as part of the motor pool and earlier he worked for an International dealer back in Altheimer. He became a capable heavy equipment mechanic, a trade he practices to this day, and got his tractor-trailer license to haul produce after settling in Chicago. But always he was drawn to the blues.
“One night we was down at the Flamingo Lounge, on Roosevelt and Washtenaw. Necktie Nate was singing there. We was outside drinking, so I told him, ‘Man I can sing that.’ He said, ‘No you can't.’ I said, ‘Call me up.’ He called me up. And the people clapped their hands. I liked it, and that’s how I started singing.”
His specialty became imitating Howlin’ Wolf, and not only perfecting the howl that he’d practiced on his schoolmates in Arkansas, but the impassioned repetition of a phrase and especially the writhing around on the floor—something the long and tall Tail Dragger was able to give his own snake-like interpretation to.
“Necktie Nate gave me the name of ‘Crawlin’ James.’ I used to crawl around on the floor....See I used to carry my overalls with me, then when I get ready to sing, I put 'em on, you know. And I started crawlin’, and then I’d get up and peoples think I’m sittin’ there undressed—they didn’t know I had clothes underneath. Used to crawl up on the bar, jump off the bar and fall on the floor on my knees, crawlin’.”
“So then I met Wolf. I got to know him personally, through Lee “Shot” Williams. Wolf had never heard me before. So Wolf was doin’ a show and Lee “Shot” Williams, he knew Wolf, he asked me did I want to do somethin’. Then Wolf told me, “Come help me out.” And he took a likin’ to me. But I always be late. So that’s how I got named ‘The Tail Dragger’: Wolf say, “Here he come draggin’ his tail!” But you know, I would get by with things that other people couldn’t.”
“He took a likin’ to me. Like one night, I was singin’, I didn’t know no timin’, you know, I’m just singin’, man. So he got on the mike, he say, ‘When you sing you got to spit, you can’t be draggin’!’ So I went to him and I said, ‘Teach me, man!’ I said, ‘I’m tryin’ to learn!’ So he sat down and talked to me and explained to me when to come in, when not to. ’Cause I didn’t know. I didn’t know nothin’ about no timin’, listenin’ to the drum and stuff. I was green at it!”
Tail Dragger became something of a regular, even eating with Howlin’ Wolf and the band after the shows. Wolf evidently found the imitation flattering, going so far as to teasingly declare The Tail Dragger his heir apparent.
“He’d sit back and laugh. He’d tell ’em, ‘One day this boy gonna take my place.’ ”
“Then I started to playin’ with Purvis Scott—he was a bass player....I had a [mechanic] shop at the time on Madison Street... So Purvis Scott’s money was short and he had a Pontiac station wagon and he needed a valve job. So I said, ‘Man, bring it to my shop.’ A lot of people knew me from doin’ mechanic work. So when I go places I have two and three carloads followin’ me. Purvis Scott, he knowed that was good for the business. So we was workin’ over at Lovie’s, on 22nd Street. So the last set then they call me up and let me do two or three numbers. That way I get paid, you know. So I did this. And you know the people gonna stay there ’cause they were followin’ me.”
Tail Dragger has remained a west side presence for many years, playing at such clubs and taverns as The 5105 Club, The Rat Trap, Dave and Thelma’s, Mary’s Lounge, and at 345 S. Pulaski where he’s played with Kansas City Red, Eddie C. Campbell, Eddie Taylor, Hubert Sumlin, James Scott, and Charlie McClelland under its various incarnations as The Golden Slipper, Wheeler’s Diner, Bowtie’s and the Appletree. And it was also here that his backup band of the last several years began.
One of Tail Dragger’s most memorable contributions to Chicago Blues has been his role in the Delta Fishmarket, begun by his old friend Oliver Davis at Washtenaw and Kedzie where Tail Dragger first organized jam sessions on the sidewalk out front. When Davis moved the operation, Tail Dragger suggested the new location and even offered ideas for improving the business, like hauling live catfish from Mississippi. Tail Dragger picked out the truck and trailer for him, traveled to Arkansas to have custom-made tanks made for transporting live fish, and was his first driver.
“And see 'fore we put the tanks on the trailer, we used to play on the trailer. And then, after we got the tanks on the trailer, they built the bandstand. And during the winter, we used to play inside the Fishmarket.”
For many years the weekly jam sessions at the Delta Fishmarket were like a West Side extension of Maxwell Street which might attract scores of musicians and hundreds of spectators at a time. Oliver Davis still runs the business there, but the music sessions haven’t been held for several years now.
Tail Dragger performs at 345 S. Pulaski one night a month and at the 5105 Club on North Avenue every Sunday, and Smokedaddy’s on Wednesday’s. His back-up band throughout his comeback has been The Rockin' Johnny Band, often joined by Eddie Taylor, Jr., son of his old friend and accompanist.
• • •
Tail Dragger’s stock in trade has been the Howlin’ Wolf sound which he reproduces faithfully here on "American People". But with tracks like Muddy Waters’ “Long Distance Call,” Eddie Taylor’s “Bad Boy” and Sonny Boy’s “Don’t Start Me Talkin',” this CD proves that his repertoire is no longer just Howlin’ Wolf numbers, although it also demonstrates that the Tail Dragger still captures that sound better than anyone around. His own compositions, such as “My Woman is Gone,” “You Gotta Go,” and his anthem “My Head is Bald,” will continue to keep the Wolf tradition vital for years.
“Most of the things I do is about real things in life,” says Tail Dragger. “It’s not just no fictitious things. What I sing is true: things that have happened to me in my life. I feel what I sing. If I don’t feel it, I don’t sing it.”
Even the track “American People,” a blues piece of too-rare socio-political commentary, is strongly in the tradition and one that the Wolf would surely smile on.
“Well, a lot of peoples likes it. They seem to enjoy it, you know. It’s just a fact. Everybody have did wrong.”
Justin O’Brien


1. Bought Me A New Home (Jones) 0:00
2. American People (Jones) 0:00
3. You Gotta Go (Jones) 0:00
4. My Woman Is Gone (Jones) 0:00
5. Bertha (Jones) 0:00
6. My Head Is Bald (Jones) 0:00
7. Don't Start Me Talkin' (Sonny Boy Williamson, Arc Music, BMI) 0:00
8. Bad Boy (Eddie Taylor, Conrad Music, BMI) 0:00
9. Ooh Baby (Hold Me) (Howlin' Wolf, Arc Music, BMI) 0:00
10. Long Distance Call (Muddy Waters, Watertoons, BMI) 0:00
11. Betty (Jones) 0:00

Tail Dragger's original compositions are published by Leric Music, BMI.

Produced by Steve Wagner
Album Production and Supervision: Robert G. Koester and Steve Wagner
Recorded on October 15 and November 3, 1998 at Riverside Studio, Chicago by John "Bugs" Parkinson
Cover photo: James Fraher
Additional photography: Susan Greenberg
Design: Kate Hoddinott
Special thanks to Jimmy Dawkins for invaluable assistance

Other Delmark albums of interest:
Johnny B. Moore, Live at Blue Chicago (688)
Troubled World (701)
Willie Kent, Make Room For The Blues (723)
Long Way To Ol' Miss (696)
Too Hurt To Cry (667) with Johnny B. Moore and Billy Branch
Ain't It Nice (653)
The Rockin' Johnny Band, Straight Out Of Chicago (720) with Tail Dragger,
Sam Lay, Robert Plunkett
Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang, Can't Stop Now (698) with Detroit Junior
Jimmy Dawkins, Fast Fingers (623)
All For Business (634) with Voice Odom and Otis Rush
Blisterstring (641)
Otis Rush, So Many Roads, Live in Japan (643)
Cold Day In Hell (638)
Magic Sam, West Side Soul (615)
Black Magic (620) with Eddie Shaw
Live (645) with Eddie Shaw
Magic Sam Legacy (651) with Eddie Shaw
Give Me Time (654)


Call or write for a free catalog of jazz and blues:
Delmark Records 1-800-684-3480
4121 N. Rockwell
Chicago, IL 60618
C P 1999 Delmark Records

31
  • Members:
    Tail Dragger Band
  • Sounds Like:
    Chicago Blues
  • Influences:
    Blues
  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
    06/01/21
  • Profile Last Updated:
    07/16/21 07:05:18

"Radio Creds" are votes awarded to artists by radio programmers who have downloaded their music and have been impressed with the artist's professionalism and the audience's response to the new music. Creds help artists advance through the AirPlay Direct community.


Only radio accounts may add a Radio Cred. One week after the track has been downloaded the radio account member will receive an email requesting a Cred for each artist they've downloaded.