Kansas City Blues: images I don’t want to lose

i

Papa John bowed over his fiddle on the mirrored stage, wearing a white, silk suit and cap. Playing Summertime.

The Count driving away in a black Caddy marked American Limousine. A cold Kansas City day, the old greats stepping out into sunlight, helping each other down the slippery stairs, where the snow has melted while they played.

ii

Big Joe Turner tilting his head far back to the left as he sings about Kansas City’s corner at 18th and Vine. I watch the bulging breath in his thick throat and question my pursuit of Zen meditation.

He is nowhere but in the far reaches of the moment of his blues. And that was all the Buddha was trying to teach, to ride out the vibration of our vocal chords when we sing.

Blues men were born knowing how to be Zenful, or else the blues taught them along the way.

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