July 11, 1949 Happy Birthday Jeff Hanna (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)!
There were about four years I played at LOLA’s on 22nd Street. I used to play gospel brunch on Sundays with Stanley Hopkins and Deborah Woodson (we call her Woody) and the place was run by LOLA. She passed away a few years ago but was a powerhouse and visionary in her time.
One gospel brunch, Lola asked me to put a group together and do Friday nights and that was the beginning of the Stingers. Claudia and I had wanted to do the male version of Beehive and call it DA (duckass) the male hairdo of the 60s but that’s a weird name so we got five guys together and started THE STINGERS. We intended to go the Off Broadway route but when we started people loved it and there were lines out the door and then some record people came in and signed the Stingers to a record deal, but that story is for another day. Anyway, thank you Lola for giving us the opportunity.
Lola also came up with an idea to have Tap Dance night on Mondays. There was a show called Black and Blue on Broadway at the time that had all the great tap dancers and I played for all of them every Monday night. These guys were unbelievable musicians and with rhythms jumping out of them and stories of the old days it was a great hang.
This song, Mr. Bojangles, reminds me of hanging with all these dudes. I always say if I had to start this whole music thing over again I would learn to tap dance. Build it right into my feet and body.
Watched a video today of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band playing this tune. Great version & Happy Birthday Jeff Hanna!
Here’s my take on the tune: