Wednesday, 19 June 2024

CyberSoulMan: Percy Mayfield, One Night Only

Image
The late, great Percy Mayfield. Courtesy photo.


 


 

I lay awake nights and ponder world troubles

And my answer is always the same

That unless men put an end to this damnable sin

Hate will put the world in a flame, what a shame…

Poet Laureate of the Blues, Percy Mayfield from his song “Please Send Me Someone To Love,” Circa 1950


In about 1979, I had backslid into the town of Hayward from where I’d graduated high school some 11 years prior to that. Wandering aimlessly downtown one day, I noticed that the marquee on the Brickhouse nightspot proclaimed, “Percy Mayfield, One Night Only.”


At the time my Blues well didn’t run very deep, but I did know that Percy Mayfield had written a couple of poignant tunes that I was familiar with, one of which was “Hit The Road Jack,” one of many large hits for Papa Ray Charles.


I didn’t even know what Percy looked like. One thing is for sure. My nose was wide open for this man of the Blues. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my life path had already taken a serious detour into Blues territory and this excursion to the Brickhouse was to be one of many.


That evening when I entered the club, the house band was already rockin’. (For the faint of heart and parents of minor children, please be advised that it gets a little kinky, probably in the next paragraph. You have been forewarned and disclaimed!)


Furthermore, CyberSoulChildren, this account is not meant to slander or besmirch the genius of Percy Mayfield. I was there and this is how it went down.


When Percy Mayfield was let out of the crooked booking agents white Cadillac in front of the club, he was very drunk. He also thought he was in Oakland, which, mind you, happens to entertainers who do a lot of one nighters, all the time.


Trouper that he was, Mr. Mayfield sauntered up to the stage, took the microphone and cued the band into a slow Blues. He then sang the following:


“You know I cried last night baby

and I cried the night befo’.

‘said I cried last night baby

and I cried the night befo …


Then to most folk’s astonishment, Percy Mayfield sat down not to far from me. He was done. The band played on and I struck up a conversation with him. Strangely enough, I don’t recall even addressing his abrupt performance. Neither he nor I, or for that matter even the club’s management said anything about it.


At some point a cocaine-addled person of the Brickhouse citizenry offered Percy a toot or three. To my surprise he accepted the offer. I followed them into the bathroom. To my further surprise, I took a couple of snorts myself. (Mind you, I’ve been clean 10 years. If I wasn’t would I be so blatant?)


When the little toot session was over, I noticed Percy about to go back into the club with a dirty nose.


“Percy, you can’t go out there like that,” I said. “Man you are a legend. Clean yourself up for your public.”


“You right, little brother,” he said. “You right.”


In that moment I became his guide for the evening.


We hung together until the club closed at 2 a.m. Blues legend or not, they bum rushed Percy Mayfield and I out of the club before the clock stuck 2:01 a.m.


I thought my guide shift was over. As I bade Mr. Mayfield farewell, he appealed to me solemnly, “Don’t leave me, little brother.”


“You right, man,” I said. “You’re a legend. I can’t leave you.”


I don’t remember much conversation in the two and a half hours I stood in the doorway of the Brickhouse with Percy Mayfield. I remember it getting pretty cold though.


Finally, after 5 a.m., the crooked booking agent in the white Cadillac pulled up and scooped up the Poet Laureate of the Blues, taking him, I imagine to the fify-leven hundred thousandth motel of his career. Percy thanked me as I shook his hand.


I watched the Cadillac carefully navigate down Mission Boulevard. I turned up B Street and headed home in the pre-dawn chill. A pickup truck cruised by at some point. The occupants slowed down to nonchalantly spew the N-word in my direction. The sting of it was deflected by my Karmic Muse.


About a year or so later, I read what was titled “The Last Percy Mayfield Interview” in the Pink Section of the Chronicle. It might’ve been written by Joel Selvin. I do remember that Percy Mayfield was terminally ill during the interview and it was published posthumously. To this day I feel righteously honored and blessed to have been in his presence that night.


One of the most detailed biographies on Percy Mayfield that I found on the web is at the following location: http://home.earthlink.net/~v1tiger/percy.html .


Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


*****


Upcoming cool local events:


Blues Farm with Dave Broida, Blues Monday, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 15, Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone, 707-275-2233, or online, www.bluewingsaloon.com .


Open mike night, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 18. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone, 707-275-2233, or online, www.bluewingsaloon.com .


Chicken & The Defenders play the Lakeport Summer Concerts at Library Park on Friday, June 19. Library Park, 200 Park St., Lakeport.


Pablo Cruise Friday, June 19. The Charlie Daniels Band Saturday, June 26. Cache Creek Casino Resort, 14455 Highway 16, Brooks. Telephone, 888-77-CACHE, or online, www.cachecreek.com .


Chris Botti in concert, 8:15 p.m. Saturday, June 20. Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, 8727 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville. Telephone, 800-660-LAKE, or online at www.konoctiharbor.com .


Smokey Robinson in concert, 7:15 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, 8727 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville. Telephone, 800-660-LAKE, or online at www.konoctiharbor.com .


The Four Tops in Concert, 9 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Cache Creek Casino Resort, 14455 Highway 16, Brooks. Telephone, 888-77-CACHE, or online at www.cachecreek.com .


T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at www.teewatts.biz .

Upcoming Calendar

19Jun
06.19.2024
Juneteenth
19Jun
06.19.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
22Jun
06.22.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
22Jun
06.22.2024 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Love of the Land Dinner
25Jun
06.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
29Jun
06.29.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
2Jul
07.02.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
4Jul
07.04.2024
Independence Day

Mini Calendar

loader

LCNews

Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 

 

Newsletter

Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.