Chester Arthur Burnett, a k a The Howlin' Wolf

This morning on the Rag Blog I was delighted to find this off-hand masterpiece of a memory by Carl R. Hultberg. “When I was sixteen I made a fateful trip to New York City to visit my grandfather, Jazz critic Rudi Blesh,” he begins. “Rudi lived off the Bowery and in the Village he was in his element.” In the account that follows, he slips out of a Bleeker St. jazz club where someone, probably Erroll Garner is playing (“It was 1966, man, what did I need to be listening to jazz for?”), then finds himself bored by the prospect of seeing young James Taylor (“but it wasn’t the Lovin’ Spoonful so I got out of there…”). Ah,youth! If I was lucky enough to be in NYC in 1966 instead of Johnson City, Texas, I’m sure I would’ve made the same choices. James Taylor, not many regrets, but I know I’d feel remorseful about seeing some real jazz. But the great part comes next, when he ends up in Cafe au Go Go and catches the mighty Howlin’ Wolf and band. Front row is Davy Jones, of The Monkees, serenaded by the Mighty Wolf. Good god, man!  Here’s the link, but I have to say congrats to Carl for saying “There really are no words to describe this set for me.” Indeed! Waaaaooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” says it all, and only the Wolf himself can do that right.

Through the Gate in ’66 .



PS, I have written about the Wolf before, including in my first novel, Rock Critic Murders. Be sorry — VERY SORRY! — if you missed the Howlin’ Wolf Birthday Tribute Party I hosted at the Continental Club last June. But be of good cheer, pilgrims, we are doing it again in June 2010, when we celebrate 100 years of the Mighty Wolf.


The Howlin' Wolf Birthday Tribute, June 10, 2009, by Ricardo Acevedo

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