Frank Little’s Blues: Hey Y’all Here I Am
Frank Little’s Blues: Hey Y’all Here I Am
By Connie White – Clarksdale Press Register – Nov 4, 1979
It was a grey morning with drizzly rain and dark cloudy skies and Frank Little was walking, walking down U.S. 61, going from the Delta Blues Museum to Wade Walton's barber shop on Fourth Street.
Little had flown in for a visit with friends and his 67-year-old mother who still lives on McKinley Street.
In the barbershop, Little talked with his friend Wade Walton. The memories were punctuated with chords from blues songs, songs the two had played together when Little had first moved to Clarksdale.
"I used to play for quarters on the corner," Little said, strumming Walton's electric guitar. "In fact I made some quarters on the corner right there when I first came."
Little pointed out to the corner of Fourth and Issaquena Streets.
"People used to say 'play that guitar for me boy and I'll give you a quarter,"' Little said accenting his words with strummed guitar chords. "Well a quarter was a lot of money back then."
"You know a young black kid wan-ting to go to school and buy a hot dog or something," Little said. "Somebody say 'play me a tune' and, man, I'd light into it.''
"I lived down by the Ellis flats on Sunflower Street back near the jailhouse," Little said. "That was back when if they threw you in jail you knew you were in jail."
"When I moved here I got attached to Ike Turner, to Wade Walton, you know, and that started really my interest in the blues," Little said.
Little still holding the guitar picks the first chords of a song. "You remember that one Wade," he said.
Little went into military service in 1960 and got out in 1967. He made his home In New Jersey and only comes to Clarksdale once a year now.
Little played In special service bands during his years in the service and began playing with the big blues bands in 1967.
"I play with the Duke Anderson Orchestra," Little said. "We play something like the high society quarters so to speak, play for the governor and the mayor."
"I had the privilege of working behind Aretha Franklin's sister Norma, and Judy Clay who did Storybook Children," Little said leaning back in his chair and picking out a few more chords.
"I played with Gloria Gaynor when she first started out in Newark, New Jersey," Little said. "You can't touch Gloria Gaynor now. I bet she's even forgot that I was once her guitar player back in 1968."
Little is giving himself two years to pull in that same kind of success. He even has his own record label now; the label's name is Shucks.
"Do you ever say that — Aw Shucks — when you make a mistake?" Little said starting to laugh. "I do."
Little is pleased with his label rights, and the protection it will give royalties from his records. But he admits he made a mistake with the producer of his last single. "I made a mistake by picking the wrong producer for the last two songs that I cut," he said. "He didn't have the capital to push the record like it should have been." "I'm looking for another producer to push the 25 tunes that I have ready for an album," Little said. "Because of the way the economic situation is now it's hard to get the investor, the producer, to throw the money out behind you," Little said. "Because many records are going to the warehouse and stacking up."
Little will be speaking on the subject of commercial blues, giving pointers to young artists or any blues enthusiasts Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Delta Blues Museum in the Myrtle Hall Library on U.S. 61.
Besides talking about the different problems facing blues artists, Little will play some songs and possibly be accompanied by Walton. "People are not buying blues records like they were at one time," Little said. "You're taking a chance when you produce a blues record or a blues album — you're taking a chance."
Little is looking for a producer to "take a chance on him." But he says if he doesn't make it in two years he will go into the song writing end of the business.
Sitting in the barber shop though, looking out on the corner where he used to earn quarters playing tunes, the dreams of big success come back. "If I run into the right producer," Little said laughing. "They'll put me on T.V. and I'll get my teeth fixed good."
"I'll be saying 'hey y’all here I am,"' Little said. "Shucks."