collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

Some are like jelly beans, so cute and sweet. I carry carbolic acid for every one of them I meet - Clara Smith, Jelly Bean Blues

Author Topic: Jim Kinnane - Czar of the Memphis Underworld  (Read 4515 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2832
Jim Kinnane - Czar of the Memphis Underworld
« on: September 02, 2006, 03:28:59 AM »
Last week I was asked to scan this from Giles Oakley's The Devil's Music (BBC Publications 1976, p145-6) for somebody writing on Robert Wilkins and duly pass it on for those interested:

By the time Major R. Raven-Hart [note], an Englishman, saw Beale Street in 1937, it had already long achieved an almost legendary notoriety. Whatever the realities of its violence, the razor fights, ice-pick killings, shootings and stabbings, and its background of impersonal and commercial sex, it was virtually a tourist attraction.

'We visited Beale Street (really Beale Avenue, but never so called) in the later afternoon, but it is definitely the sort of place that one must be taken to, and by someone of colour. Later in the year, and all through the winter, white visitors are catered for by the "Beale Street Ramblers", whose show admits both races; but at the moment all the drinking-places and cabarets were negro, and (so a large and friendly policeman told us) they do not welcome visitors, especially of the tourist type like ourselves. I do not blame them at all.'

The Major's 'friendly policeman' showed them round some of the landmarks of this 'Main Street of Negro America'.

'This was the Hole-In-The-Wall, where they played craps all night and all day?but you never won anything on account of the fines?whatever you did, you were fined for it, spitting on the dice, or dropping them on the floor?and if you did win you never got away with the money. And this was the Monarch Club, poker mostly, where the boss once shot a nigger for knocking another one down?didn't allow no fighting in that club?but the nigger shot back when he was half dead, and they both died. And the bar here was where Wild Bill shot it up and killed half a dozen. And Fatty was shot there too, and ran out with five bullets in his back, and a nigger undertaker after him, and when he fell down that nigger sat right on his body till his own car came, so's not to lose the burying of him: a big funeral it was.

'And here's where we got Koen for beating up a white woman at a party; she ran out on the street stark naked and him after her, and then he got into the basement here and we broke up the floor and threw tear-gas bombs down, and he got shot when he didn't surrender . . .'

In the early 1900's the Monarch ('The Castle of Missing Men') had already established itself the favourite of country people, with crap shooting, no closing time and barrels of whiskey on the counter. You could get any kind of moonshine, or dope, like reefers and cocaine. The man killed in the incident recounted to the English Major was Bad Sam who for years had been the bouncer. There were regular killings and he would just dump the bodies outside. The Monarch was one of a string of joints run by the 'Czar of the Memphis Underworld' Jim Kinnane?celebrated in one of Robert Wilkins blues Old Jim Canan's. He and his brother Thomas also had the Hole-In-The-Wall (a 'rough joint' according to Sunnyland Slim), the Red Light and the Blue Light. At one of Kinnane's places you could bump into Razor Cuttin' Fanny. 'Everytime you see her if you didn't give her that piece of bread and side of fish she cut your throat.' Or down at the Panama there was Mary the Wonder, a voodoo lady. At the Vintage there was prize fighting, at the Midway the sound of rolling blues piano. The favourite haunt of musicians was probably Pee Wee's, which like many of the Beale joints was run by an Italian.
[Note: Major R Raven-Hart ?Canoe Errant On The Mississippi? (Methuen, 1938 p.123)]


Offline Pan

  • Member
  • Posts: 1900
  • Howdy!
Re: Jim Kinnane - Czar of the Memphis Underworld
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2006, 11:26:28 AM »
Hi Bunker Hill

Are you sure you didn't accidentally scan a Chester Himes novel?  :o

Cheerfully yours

Pan :)

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10900
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Jim Kinnane - Czar of the Memphis Underworld
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2006, 11:35:12 AM »
Hi all,
Whew, reading that account makes the decisions of musicians like John Jackson and Rev. Wilkins to either give up music-making altogether for many years or give it up for religion considerably less mysterious!  It sounds like an environment best appreciated from a distance in the re-telling.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2674
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Jim Kinnane - Czar of the Memphis Underworld
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2006, 12:38:03 PM »
There's no place like home...

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2832
Re: Jim Kinnane - Czar of the Memphis Underworld
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2006, 11:23:56 PM »
Hi Bunker Hill
Are you sure you didn't accidentally scan a Chester Himes novel?  :o
Cheerfully yours
Pan :)
Ho, ho does read a bit like that, doesn't it? The only names missing are Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones....

 


anything
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal