Johnnie Mae's funeral
Wed Oct 10 13:35:27 EDT 2007
It's artists like Johnnie Mae who make me glad every day that I got
off my ass in Seattle and hit the road. If I'd never attended the
Chicago Blues Fest I never would have known she existed. Instead, I
was fortunate enough to see her perform probably half a dozen times,
and each time she flat ruined me. The wheel chair in later years
almost seemed irrelevant, because, as others have noted, when the
spirit moved Johnnie Mae she'd stand up from that chair and sing her soul out.
There was nothing quite as emotional and moving as hearing her chant a capella,
"I had a tussle with the Devil
And Lord, I won..."
Or the year of the Big Chill, when she was bundled up in wraps and
extra clothing, moaning into the mic, "I'm cold, I'm so cold...."
Whew. I still get chills just thinking about it, and not from the
weather, then or now.
For me, Johnnie Mae was a must-see highlight of the Chicago Blues
Festival. I'm glad Barry gave her a slot on the Petrillo main stage
several years ago. She more than deserved it. Chicago blues just
won't be the same without her.
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