THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Sunday, November 11, 1973
Page ~R THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Sunday, November 11. 1973
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By STEPHEN HERSH
HE SAT comfortably on stage.
A four foot board with one
single string stretched across it
was cradled across his lap. The
act seemed simple and insignifi-
cant compared to other mam-
moth and grandiose shows but
One String Sam still produced
some of the best sounds to come
out of this year's Ann Arbor
Blues and Jazz Festival.
Since that time, partly as a
result of some shrewd promotion
on the part of Rainbow promoter
John Sinclair, Sam has become
somewhat of a local celebrity. He
has played at the Primo Show-
bar, The Blind Pig, and at Day-
star's B.B. King concert.
One String is pleased with
his sudden fame, but he takes it
all in stride. He spelt nearly
sixty years playing the blues
in bars and on the street, as 9
prelude to his recent tccess.
"I've had is pretty rough," he
says leaning forward in his seat
and touching his close-cropped,
hair, "I want people to know
not everybody was born with a
silver spoon in his mouth." Now
that the silver spoon may be
within his reach, Sam isn't grasp,
ing for it. He won't let his career
get out of hand. "When you get
too much money, you start to
worry too much about losing it."
ONE STRING'S emergence as
an Ann Arbor celebrity was as-
sured when Festival promoter
Sinclair fell in love with an al-
bum he recorded about twenty
years ago. "A friend of mine
knew of a musician lamed One
String who was playing in the
street in Aikester, Michigan,"
says Sinclair. "One String Sam
was the name he had recorded
under, so I wasn't sure it was
the same guy. But it turned out
to be him. I brought him up for
the festival, and he's been do-
ing gigs around town since then."
At the B.B. King : oncert, One
String watched from backstage
at the Radio King soul revue
opened the show. "I like this mu-
sic," he said. "I like all kinds
of music. But most people, they
play one kind of music and sing
something different. What I play
and what I sing is :he same
WHEN SAM PLAYS the blues,
he beats the floor wien his foot,
and plucks a rhytam on h i s
string. His whole body starts
twitching to the beat. He uses
a Pan Am drinking glass instead
of a bottleneck slide. He plays
and sings in unison, of fen replac-
ing words with slippery notes.
At the end of his act, he lifts
his slender arms in the air
and bids the crowd farewell.
One String Sam is still playing
the music he learned at the age
of nine. "My daddy built me a
guitar with five strings when I
was nine years old. I worked
on that thing, and I knew it was
not right for me. So I made
myself one with just one string.
"The first song I learned to
play was one I learned in church,
'When the Saints Go Marchin'
Home'. I played that for my dad-
dy and momma and the preacher
at my church. When they heard
what I played, it put tears in
their eyes, and my daddy ran
up to me and picked m° up, in
his arms. He, said, 'I got a boy
done learned somethin'!'"
One String began playing
whiskey joints, beer joints, and
honky-tonks in his native Missis-
sippi before he turned 10. Work-
ing with a man named Blind
Lemon Jefferson ("I used to lead
Blind Lemon around"), he play-
ed all over the state for almost
thirty years. In the process, One
String became acquainted with
Bessie Smith, Lightnin' Hopkins,
ONE STRING SAM
Playin' blues on a
board and a string
Ma Rainey, and Sonny Boy Wil-
liamson. "I didn't work with
those people, but when we'd be
sittin' around talkin', I'd start
playin'. They'd say, 'Man, you
got somethin' there,' so I'd say
'Come on and follow me,' and
we'd play around."
WHEN STRING LEFT Missis-
sippi, he moved to Beal Street
in Memphis for a . few years.
There he worked with T-Bone
Walker, Leadbelly, and, again,
Blind Lemon. From there: he
headed for an army base in Ken-
tucky, driving trucks and later
cutting hair. After several years
in Kentucky, String moved to
Michigan. He resumed doing
what he does to this day: playing
in bars, -at his friends' houses,
and on the corner when the
weather is good. He's been di-
vorced for twenty years, and has
a son and a daughter.
One String does several shows
a week when he comes to Ann
Arbor, but back at his home in
Aikester his schedule is less full.
"I don't play much at b a r s
anymore because I don't have
anybody to go with me. When I
go out the door after playing,
people know I have money. on
me, so somebody could rob me
or cut me with a knife. I know
that can happen."
Sam likes to fish, and to hunt
rabbits and birds: "I used to
hunt deer in Mississippi. At my
daddy's farm, you could shoot
a deer while standing in the back
'door. We had to run the deer out,
because they ate the corn."
One String Sam was shooting
the shit with John Lee Hooker's
wife at the Blues and Jazz festi-
vals back a few weeks: "You
get more blues out of that one
string of yours, she said admir-
ingly, "than my husband gets
out of his guitar with six strings
and a whole band behind him."
Sam, for his part, isn't trying
to outdo anyone: "I just sit on
the stage and do my thing."
BAGELS FOR BRUNCH BUNCH
11:00 A.M.-SUN., NOV. 11
Undergrads, Grads and Faculty are invited for Lox-Bagel and
Speaker: PROF. MOSHE BRAUER
Prof. Political Geography-Tel Aviv Univ.
TOPIC: "THE POLITICAL EFFECTS
OF THE YOM KIPPUR WAR"
at H I LLEL-1429 Hill St.
just for truck
It's also for college graduates.
The American trucking industry is
a vast, complex, sophisticated trans-
portation network. A network that moves
almost anything you can think of. Almost '
anyplace you can think of.
And to keep things running smoothly, it4
needs people. All kinds of people. From
computer analysts to cost accountants.
Traffic controllers to communications
specialists. People like you.
In return, trucking offers
you good pay.
Plus a chance to grow fast
and go as high as you want to. r
Because trucking is booming. And
it's already the largest and fastest
growing segment of the transportation
industry. So you can start to contribute
some mighty important things to the
cause. Now. Not ten years from now.
How do you start a career in this
It's easy, if you know where to look. I '
First, try your placement office. See if
there are any trucking concerns in- <x
terviewing. Next, check out your college
placement manual for names and ad-
dresses. Finally, look to the surrounding
area for companies in operation.
Find out for yourself what a great
career trucking can be. Even if you
JOHN FORD FESTIVAL
THE MAN WHO SHOT
The perfect Western and what many consider to be Ford's finest achievement. It
expresses Ford's view of history! "When the legend contradicts the fact, print the
legend." This 1962 color film is one of Ford's last and s t a r s JAMES STEWART,
JOHN WAYNE, VERA MILES AND WARD BOND.
TUES.: BUNUEL'S VIRIDIANA
at 7 and 9:05
SUNDAY FRENCH CINEMA
A serious work in which Bresson traces the lifetime of a fourteen year old girl
her plunge into humiliation and defeat. Earmarked by Bresson's authenticity
austerity in a world made to seem unreal by the juxtoposition of traditional
and modernity. Subtitled.
short: Chris MARKER'S LA JETEE
7:00 & 9:00
Aud. A Angell Hall
Nichols' best film since "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Screenplay by Jules
Feiffer. Jack Nicholson, Candice Bergan, Ann-Margaret, Art Garfunkle.
II T .WHO'S AFRAIDl OF VIR[;IKIA WAOi F7