from Woman With Guitar: Memphis Minnie's Blues)
At the dawn
of the new decade, Minnie's popularity was hardly on the wane. Minnie,
now with Son Joe, continued to work at the 708 Club at 708 E. 47th
St., where they were often joined by Big Bill, Sunnyland Slim, or
Snooky Pryor. The 708 was a favored hangout, recalled fondly by
Pryor, who remembered that "it used to be right side of Montgomery
Ward. Memphis Slim, he used to play there," and Pryor's partner,
Moody Jones, remembered seeing Minnie at the 708 Club, too. The
708 was Minnie and Son's "home club," to the extent that they had
one, and it was the tavern most frequently mentioned by Minnie and
played at dozens of the better known (and better paying) night-clubs,
from the Music Box and Club DeLisa to Martin's Corner, Gatewood's
Tavern, and the White Elephant (Don's Den). Minnie and Memphis Slim
played together at Gatewood's, especially when Big Bill was out
of town, and she often played across the street from the White Elephant.
As likely as not, she was joined by local musicians like Homer Harris
or James "Beale Street" Clark; (the latter's home became the new
rehearsal hall when Tampa Red "went nutty" after his wife died).
Minnie was a regular participant in Chicago's blues milieu, a hard
drinker who played just as hard. One night, she, Son Joe, and Sunnyland
got drunk together, and in the wee hours of the morning, Sunnyland
staggered home. The next day, and after a good, recuperative slumber,
he went over to Little Brother Montgomery's. Lee Collins was there,
and so were Minnie and Son, still partying! They hadn't been to
bed since Sunnyland left them.
Son Joe, Minnie
and Roosevelt Sykes occasionally played the midnight show at the
Indiana Theatre, just as they played at the Square Deal and The
Flame. While most singers had regular gigs at certain clubsfor
Minnie, the 708 and Sylvio's like most blues artists, she
played at dozens of clubs with scores of colleagues. As Jimmy Rogers
put it, after patiently explaining that he had seen Minnie playing
in the basement at 31st and Indiana, as well as on the North side,
"we was all around playing the blues in Chicago."
Hughes saw Minnie play at the 230 Club, and he was impressed enough
to devote his entire Chicago Defender "Here to Yonder" column
for January 9, 1943 to the occasion: ". . . Memphis Minnie sits
on top of the icebox at the 230 Club in Chicago and beats out blues
on an electric guitar. . ." Drummer Jump Jackson was with Minnie
on the same job. "I worked with Memphis Minnie. I remember we was
on, the little club at 51st and Prairie, way up on top of a icebox.
Just drum and guitar. She had that place packed. You know those
walk-in coolers? I said, 'Minnie, gee, I'm gonna work this week
out, but I can't take this! I'm gonna fall and break my neck here.'
They had a banister up there but if you'd fall against it, you'd
go right through that thing. Fall right down on the people."
Big Bill Hill used to host a "cocktail party" that moved from club
to club on Sundays: From the 708 Club to the Du Drop Lounge to Sylvio's
to the Blue Flame. But there were other, more famous, parties for
Chicago blues singers, and these were hosted by Memphis Minnie.
These Blue Monday parties often took place at Ruby Lee Gatewood's,
Big Bill's Lake Street home base. The parties were well attended
and recalled with great pleasure, and Minnie herself memorialized
them in her "Daybreak Blues"