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Vic Brown

Well, you could say I’m in the tank for these guys. So if you want an independent, objective appraisal, please look elsewhere. Who would drive 425 miles to catch a group they hear three Sundays out of four? Here’s a better question: What group would drive 425 miles, play almost four hours, then drive back the next day to play their regular Sunday gig at the Last Chance Saloon: The Thulman crowd, that’s who.

   It was a long narrow room. We were on the left, and it took 12 hours after the gig to get my head to look straight, but it was worth it. All the regulars were with the LCJB except on bass. Marty Erickson, an ex-member of the band (he lives in Michigan) laid down a mighty fine back line as well as some melodic solos.

   There may be two schools of thought on just what a dixieland jazz band ought to present. The purist would say: play jazz. Those left of Pure would say: I don’t mind being entertained. The LCJB plays really nice stuff, and they do some delightful entertaining. Take the tune “Nasty Tiger Woman”. Here comes Ferebee Streett Thulman dressed in a wild leopard skin, brandishing a spear, and howling. Talk about the lst of the red hot petite mamas! She had the audience laughin’, duckin’, and divin’.

   Bob called their best stuff. “Lord, Lord, Lord” with a vocal duet by Ferebee and Brian was tight. Thulman’s signature piece, “If You See My Mother” was, as always, a five-star piece of soprano sax work. Ferebee sang “Blue Mama’s Suicide Wail” (well, if she didn’t, she should have), “I Double Dare You”, and a bunch of others, and each time she was dressed in a different outfit. Talk about an extra dimension for a JB. It was crowd-pleasing entertainment.

   Bob, as usual, poked fun at himself and the band, working the crowd to a friendly pitch. Larry was having a ball beating up on 88 keys (Bob, when you gonna’ get one for the LC Saloon?) of a wildly decorated upright (it had been lavished with many coats of white paint) that had been a prop for the movie “Titanic”. You remember. Some young lady floated by on it and played a riff just as the last boat was pulling away, and they came back and..... anyway, you remember. Larry’s stool, by the way, was the original one used in the movie “Around the World in Eighty Days”. Thulman, where do you come up with all that stuff anyway? On the “The Joint is Jumpin” Larry ended it by sitting on the keyboard! Now, man, that was a bottom-line chord.

   Other entertainments included “My Little Bimbo Down on the Bamboo Isle”, with Brian’s excellent vocal, and Ferebee’s excellent, uh, her outstanding, that is, uh, well you know what I mean. Jim “Banjo Man” Riley sang and played one of the many tunes he has written, “Hang On Tight”, but left out the dirty verses. Cummon, Jim, the youngest kid in the house was 39! As I watched Brian do his famous bend and buckle while blowing trombone - for a mute he was using a rubber plunger that had once belonged to Muggsy’s plumber-I had some final thoughts as the evening waned.

   Red and blue lights glinted off the highly silvered tuba and played across the silver hairs of the leader and his chief cornetist, Al. I smiled into my suds. Bob had told us about Sidney. You can’t hear it too often. (I’m a reed man.) They’d played some big band sounds to stretch the Central Ohio Hot Jazz universe just a tad. Mood Impetigo, stuff like that. They’d whiffed the intro to “From Monday On”, and Bob stopped the band, told everybody about the time Bix had done the exact same thing, which had band members and audience laughing. Started over and did a splendid treatment: not a feather out of place. (If you can tell me who I stole that from you, too, have few 45s left in your trad inventory.)

   We gotta teach the Ohio folks how to twirl napkins, I thought. They don’t get into it like us PRJC’ers do. I grew misty thinking about the smell of pizza and the numbers called over the PA system in the middle of all those great trad tunes. I sighed and watched Ferebee duck out for another quick change for the last tune. Stuff sure does change. A lot of it for the better....
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