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February 2023
Vol. 22, No. 5
In Good Company

Recordially, Lou Curtiss

Frank Stokes

by Lou CurtissDecember 2017

There was a Memphis area blues singer, one of my favorites, in the ’20s and ’30s, named Frank Stokes, who was one hell of a guitar picker and an exciting and original vocalist. He made several records on his own and worked with another guitarist named Dan Sane in a duet that they called the Beale Street Sheiks. Mostly, they were a street band, which was a hard thing to be in the city of Memphis because the mayor of of that city, who was named Crump, was fond of rounding up street musicians and throwing them in the can where they were treated none too nicely.

This Mayor Crump was especially fond of placing Frank Stokes in the can. Stokes, however, was a bit of a rebel and being a songwriter wrote a very popular blues tune called “Mr. Crump Don’t Like It,” which listed in detail the excuses that Crump used to crack down on local musicians.

The blame he used wouldn’t fit very well today, but the name Crump is quite similar to a burden of a President we are all putting up with. Also there are a variety of evils he seems to delight in poking in our collective eyes. I’m speaking of our President Trump. And it’s a damned good tune. One of you folk type songwriters ought to write “Mr. Trump Don’t Like It.” It’s a tune and an idea that ought to get around quite a bit. You can look up Frank Stokes on YouTube and check out the tune. Even though Stokes died in the 1950s I’ve got a feeling he’d get a kick out of his tune being used to poke a stick at the establishment that he wasn’t to fond of.
I got a email from a Mr. Michael Stewart, who is talking about getting together a Drowsy Maggies Street Music Festival to be held once a month in North Park. It would be nice to have an occasional traditional performer in our area. Also, it would be nice to have some some workshops and concerts where the performers can interact and have an opportunity to get to know each other. We haven’t had anything like that since the last San Diego State Folk Festival back in 1987. We’ve had a lot of great music and a lot of jam sessions but very little chance to introduce new folks to new kinds of music that they haven’t been exposed to before. We have to get back to doing that. With the internet we’re exposed to such a wide variety of music, films, and, cultural icons. Check out Max Hunter’s collection of Ozark folk songs, The Juneberry 78rpm home library, Excavated Shellac, YouTube, the Internet archives, essential old time sites, the Old Time Tiki Parlor, the Alan Lomax Collection, the various Library of Congress Sites (I especially recomend the Todd-Sonkin California Collection, which includes the music from farm labor camps in the Central Valley. It’s like Woody Guthrie meets The Grapes of Wrath). It’d be nice if someone could get together some workshop material to present at some of these projects. It’s funny that so long after I put togther of festivals (I did 56 of them) I still see the need for them and not near enough people who want to take the time to do them, and do them right. I don’t suppose anyone could please me, but boy we’ve heard a lot of great music over these past 50 years. And we were able to share it with the people of San Diego.
Lou Curtiss

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