My Dad dumped my mom so after the divorce she decided to move to Panama City, Florida, to get away from all the pain that California had to offer. Her brother and a lot of his kids, and her sister lived there so it seemed like a good idea.
I really wanted to move to New York City and figured anywhere on the East Coast was closer, so I took the opportunity to go along.
In June of 1986 we hired my friend DV to help move all our stuff from Huntington Beach. We loaded up the 24 foot Ryder truck and dragged my Honda Civic behind all the way to Florida in 3 days. We drove for 48 straight hours of sleep deprived halucinations. Texas, which is really wide took what seemed like forever to cross. Falling asleep at the wheel was a constant problem, you don’t know how bad it is until you’ve almost killed yourself.
Because we couldn’t ever see the car we were towing, driving in reverse was something we didn’t want to experience. We were driving through Baton Rouge when we saw a Red Roof Inn right on the highway that looked like we could pull into and out of without too much trouble, so we went for it. We checked in and I was ready to fall asleep the minute I lay on the bed when DV insisted that we had to make a pilgrmiage to Tabby’s Blues Box, a club featured on a public television special called Rainin’ in My Heart. Before I knew it he was on the phone talking to the club and they were open.
DV can tell the rest. (This is from the comments section of A Ass Pocket Of Whiskey post)
Reminds me of a cab ride in Baton Rouge, La. one night after driving for 48 hours straight from California. You and me, jumpin’ out of our truck and into a cab, tellin’ the driver the address of the now defunkt Tabby’s Blues Box. We were on a mission. When we arrived to this venue without even a sign on the front and in not such a good part of town. Night had fallen hard and our African American driver turns his head around and says “Are you sure you guys wanna go in there? I don’t think I would go in there!” “Oh yeah, we’re sure!” We jumped out and thanked our good natured driver who stood by for a minute, watching us to see if we were gonna stay. We moved toward the door of the “club”. Someone sitting at a folding card table just inside charged us what might have been two dollars. We entered the room that was lit with a single red light bulb where a few scattered patrons (maybe eight people)averted their gaze in our direction. To the left was this old black guy with a silver Hard Hat on, playing a beat up old guitar. He sounded like blood, mud & magic. Ahead of us was the tiny makeshift bar…we both simultaneously decided that if we were to get murdered in this place that it would be well worth it. We proceed to head straight for the whiskey. The musician, we found out, was Silas Hogan. He was everything we were looking for in this possible misadventure. It was great talking to him after he finished. We got him to autograph the singles we bought of his tune “Hairy Leg Women” that he was hocking from a small suitcase. He was the real deal. We bought him some grapefruit juice and we all raised our drinks and said cheers. We did die that night, and wound up in blues heaven.
That was such a powerful night. I felt like I was Gumby walking into a book about the history of the blues. Everything was hyper vivid. We were exhausted but we knew what we had to do. On our third wind and three sheet to the wind as well. I think you got me on the selling records from the guitar case deal. And here I thought my brain was still functioning. Nothing like a rented moving truck with pink flamingos tied to the vertical curb feelers and three thousand miles of road in your face.
I still have my autographed copy of “Hairy Leg Woman” b/w “Bad Little Puppy”, and will post it sometime soon. When I do I’ll just use your comment for text, as your memory needs no correcting, although I thought the singles came out of his guitar case.
And you forgot to mention our cabbie gave me a card with a phone number for the cab company. I called, it was after 2 am, and we got the same driver. We were pretty lit and told him what a great party they had going there.
(The next day we drove to Panama City)
Tabby’s Blues Box and Heritage Hall opened its doors in 1979 as the first and only blues club in Baton Rouge. It featured authentic blues music, offered the original blues “jam,” and welcomed fans from all over the world. The Thursday night Hoo Doo Party was a favorite with college students.
Famous local musicians — Henry Gray, Silas Hogan, Raful Neal — could be found playing there when they were in town. Tabby’s son and Grammy Award winner, Chris Thomas King, got his start there and signed his first recording contract in the Blues Box. The “Box” was visited by many famous people: Mike Tyson, Paul Newman, Bruce Springsteen and Shaquille O’Neal were just a few.
In 1999, the North Blvd. railroad overpass project caused the demolition of the original location and a new location was found on Lafayette St. in downtown Baton Rouge. The new “Box” opened in 2000 and stayed open until 2004 when Tabby had a massive stroke while waiting to go onstage.