Marion James also talks about music back in the day and Jimi Hendrix.
This Sunday, September 6th, will mark the 32nd Annual Musician’s Reunion at The Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar in Printers Alley. Nearly a full day event, music will be starting at 3pm with the doors opening 30 minutes early. This year there will be over 20 Artists from Nashville’s storied past Jefferson Street scene to current up and coming Blues, Rhythm & Blues, Gospel and Soul.
Featured Artists will be recently signed nationally known Nashville act The Andy T Nick Nixon Band [Alligator Records] as well as local favorite Jack Pearson and many others.
The first Musician’s Reunion show that celebrated the heyday of the Jefferson Street Sound and honored those that had passed away during the year was so popular the first time that it has become an annual event.Marion James “Nashville’s Queen Of The Blues” spearheads the event with the support of the Nashville Blues Music Community. Marion James is known for having Jimi Hendrix in her backing band back in the day as well as the top ten hit “That’s My Man” [Excello]. That song was re-released on 7 inch vinyl with the original Excello label on Record Store Day in 2014 in England and sold out quick. Copies can be found occasionally through Ebay as well as all of Marion James catalog .
Marion James went on to release a couple more singles with songs written by Larry Lee [Jimi Hendrix – Gypsys, Suns and Rainbows] who performed with Jimi at Woodstock as well as long time Jimi Hendrix bassist Billy Cox who also worked with Marion back in the day.
Marion has recorded a string of CD’s over the last two decades and continues to perform at special events around Nashville. Marion discussed a little of this and a little of that with The Nashville Bridge.
Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: How many years have you done the Annual Musicians Reunion Show?
Marion James: This is the 32nd.
TNB: What was your favorite one that you did, what year?
MJ: Well, my favorite one was the first one.
TNB: What drives you to put these shows together?
MJ: I’m just used to it. I’ve been in show business for practically all my life. My husband [Buzz Stewart], he was a Musician and also an Arranger. So, it inspired me to go on to sing in the music field.
TNB: How many records did you actually have out? Has it been three singles and several albums in the last ten or twenty years?
TNB: What are your favorite songs to sing right now?
MJ: There is one of them that I am looking forward to recording again before this year’s out. It’s one of my friends who has been into the music for a long, long time. He sung this song and it was a hit called “I Need your Love So Bad” by Little Willie John. I really like that tune.
TNB: Little Willie John, cool! You’ll have some originals as well that you are working on?
MJ: Yes, I have. I’ve got two songs that I have wrote.
TNB: What’s been your favorite time, musically, in Nashville? Do you like it now or did you prefer it back in the 60’s or 70’s?
MJ: I liked the 60’s and the 70’s. If you are speaking of music, some of these songs that they’re singing now, they are getting’ away with a lot. I mean, back in the day we had to sing the melody right and the songs tell a story. But nowadays, you got a few that will get up and take one line and sing it one line all the way through and get away with it. But, back in the day we didn’t do that. We sung our songs and we played our music.
TNB: Back in the day, I know that’s a theme that brings back to memory the Jefferson Street scene. You also recorded a song called “Back In The Day” a couple of years ago. Do you remember how it was when there were a lot of clubs and a lot of things were going on?
MJ: Yes, it was very much active. You had a lot of musicians and there had been a lot of vocalists that was doin’ it at that time.
TNB: You could probably go see somebody play live about every night back then.
MJ: Yeah, they had a club just about every other block on Jefferson Street back in the day. They had a different act in each club. You went in and you really enjoyed it because it wasn’t the same thing all the time. So, if you go out on the weekend and say “Well, I’m goin’ clubbin’,” you could start from 6th and Jefferson all the way out to 31st in Centennial which was a Dinner Club. There was a different act all the way.
TNB: Wow. What were some of the big names that you really liked listening to?
MJ: There was Little Richard, Otis Redding and Hank Crawford was going to school at Tennessee State University. On Sunday, Hank would have the jam session at 28th and Jefferson in a little Restaurant there they called Hayes Rendezvous and all the students would go there at three o clock on Sunday and they would have a jam. All the musicians would come in and play. There was a musician, Charlie Dungers, that would play up and down Jefferson Street and he was great. He went away from here for a while and he was playing all over Europe and then he decided to come back home and play his music and also he taught at Tennessee State University. I think it was strange he was still teachin’.
TNB: I remember now that you’ve told me about Jimi Hendrix playing with your band back then for a while. Do you have any funny stories that you remember?
MJ: Well there are a whole lot of things about Jimi that were peculiar about him that we laugh about. So really, Jimi he was kind. One of the habits, I guess it’s natural for a person to do it but, I noticed that he never did like to wear no shoes. He would just walk barefooted you know.
TNB: I’d heard that he carried his guitar around either without a case or in a paper bag or something. He didn’t ever have a guitar case.
MJ: Yeah, yeah, he did odd things like that. He really did, you know. Like I said, he was a nice guy, very nice to go around with also. He was on the quiet side. I don’t know how you would say it but he never was a person that was always on a run all the time. He was just calm and quiet, you know.
TNB: Now when he got on stage though he kind of commanded the stage quite a bit, didn’t he?
MJ: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, he did.
TNB: He liked to show off a little bit I guess.
MJ: He loved to show off and play that guitar. He came up with that act with trying to play the guitar with his mouth and all like that. He was a pretty good showman, you know.
TNB: Who are you looking forward to playing at the Musician’s Reunion show that is coming up?
MJ: I’m looking at Jack Pearson and Scott Holt. They are my two favorites when it comes to playing guitar. Jack Pearson was on one of my CD’s that I recorded. He did a marvelous job.
TNB: Do you think you will get up and sing with Jack Pearson?
MJ: Oh yes, I mean, you know, if it comes to that, I think I can cover it.
- Brad Hardisty Nashville, TN