My Meeting with B.B. King

Greg Freerksen gfreerksen@SBCGLOBAL.NET
Mon Nov 29 20:07:31 EST 2004

Thanks Dick - for sharing your interview with B.B. King.  We all have a
lot to look forward to when the book comes out.

I was the one who forwarded to you a summary of my interview with a woman
who witnessed B.B. and Franks Stokes in their Saturday jam sessions.  I
have always wanted to ask B.B. about it, and now thanks to you, I know his
answer. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the fact you asked the

I originally posed on Blues-L a summary of my interview with June Davis
f/k/a June McKissick on August 15, 1999.  For those you who might like to
see a reprise I will repost it now.

Thanks again Dick.

Greg Freerksen, host of "Blues Edition" Public Radio from College of
DuPage 90.9 FM WDCB, Glen Ellyn, Illinois 7-9 p.m. Saturdays.

The following is the repost:

Earlier this month I interviewed June Davis about a series of historic
jam sessions featuring B.B. King and Frank Stokes in the Orange Mound
neighborhood of Memphis in either 1946 or 1947.  I am posting this
information because I think it is historically very significant.

June Davis formerly known as June McKissick lived in the Orange Mound
District of Memphis back in 1946 and 1947.  She was about 10 years old
at the time.  June's Aunt Margaret Stokes hosted lawn parties every
Saturdays in the summer.  Margaret Stokes was a beautician and while she
did hair for customers, she also sold barbecue while her husband Frank
Stokes played his guitar with musicians who he gather together for that
purpose.  The musical performances would go into the night.  They
attracted large crowds of both men and women who would come to hear the
music and dance.

One summer a Mr. Riley came by virtually every Saturday for the lawn
parties.  Mr. Riley and Mr. Frank would play their guitars for the crowd
who would dance, eat their barbecue, drink beer, and drink "double
colas" sold by Margaret Stokes.  The only song June can remember Mr.
Frank playing is one called "Old Black Julie" or "Julie Hudson" which
was a woman that Mr. Frank used to like.  This song was sung during
these jam sessions with Mr. Riley.  The jam sessions involved a piano
which was moved out onto the porch of the Stokes' house.  June can also
remember a harmonica player, but she cannot remember his name.
Sometimes they would have four or five musicians gather together there,
but that particular summer always featured Mr. Riley together with Mr.
Frank.  I asked June if she remembered Booker White and she did not
recall his name.  While performing the men always sat down in chairs.

On weekdays Mr. Riley would also come over to the Stokes' house and sit
on the porch and play guitar with Mr. Frank.  Sometime in that fall when
it was raining, June can remember Mr. Frank out in the shed making
cardboard inserts for Mr. Riley's shoes which were quite worn.  She also
remembers that when Mr. Frank and Mr. Riley would sit on the porch, they
would reach into this wire basket of eggs supplied by her Aunt
Margaret.  They would take the eggs and crack them and suck them down.
June's father told her that they did this to improve their singing

Sometime later Mr. Riley got a radio show on WDAI where Pepticon was the
sponsor.  Then Mr. Frank would tell everybody, that's Riley who used to
come by here for the lawn parties.

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