The late independent filmmaker Les Blank was the north star for me.
With zero budget and a lot of faith from friends, I wanted to illustrate how environment informs music.
James Yancy “Tail Dragger” Jones was confronted by fellow blues musician Bennie “Boston Blackie” Houston in the early morning hours of July 11, 1993 at the Delta Fish Market at Jackson and Kedzie.
They had an ongoing dispute about payment at that year’s Chicago Blues Festival. Tail Dragger was convicted of second-degree murder.
Wayne Carson told me, “Springfield is nearly the dead center of the United States.
It’s the wheel and the spokes go out from there.” Ozark Mountain Daredevils co-founder John Dillon got his first job as a session musician from Carson.
When Lou wasn’t with those artists, he recorded Springfield church groups and up and coming rockers.
He was the first to take a chance on the popular Springfield alt rock band Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin.
He was accompanied by long time compatriot Martin Lang on harmonica, Kevin Shanahan on guitar, James Murphy on bass and Dean Haas on drums.Blackie had threatened Tail Dragger with a knife and according to 1993 court records, Tail Dragger testified that he shot Blackie in self defense. He served 17 months and three days of a four-year sentence. The highlight of the hour-long set was when Tail Dragger removed his trademark cowboy hat and sang his hit “My Head is Bald.” The bald and lean blues singer walked towards inmates who sat on bleachers.Tail Dragger first went to Cook County Jail for processing before being dispatched to a minimum security prison in downstate Lincoln. King recorded the hit “Live in Cook County Jail” in 1970. The gig was recorded for a Tail Dragger documentary. Tail Dragger eyed a female prison guard and and serenaded her eye to eye.Over the years Lou and I tossed around the idea of turning the magazine series into some kind of documentary. We began shooting and interviewing around Springfield in the summer of 2013, about 9 months before Lou passed away. Sometimes the music “business” shakes down to whats inside and whats outside. That’s why I fell in love with the Springfield vibe.Lou had taken a fall on the Saturday morning of one shoot and showed up with a gash on his head. Almost all of the characters we encountered lived on the periphery of convention. We thank them for sharing their time and their stories.