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On the Road: Ruby meets Ma Rainey

This is a continuation of my first book interview with Ruby. We had known each other for some time and the rapport was already in place. If you wish to hear the first part of this interview, here is a direct link.

If you heard the portions that were released on CD by Columbia, you may recognize a passage or two, but this is, basically, the raw tape. I added a qualifier, because I made a couple of edits to remove brief extraneous passages. I left in the advice Ruby gave to Mingus, my doberman, because it's funny. Also intact is Ruby's notion of what happened the night Bessie's fatal accident took place, her impression of Bessie's relationship with Richard Morgan, and young Bessie being kidnapped by "gypsies." As she admitted, these views were based on hearsay; they contrast the first-hand observations I heard and often also the facts turned up by research. When Ruby had read the published book, I asked her to tell me if I had written anything with which she disagreed—her answer was that she hadn't.

Ruby's advice to my doberman, Mingus
Apropos first-hand accounts, you will likely be amused by Ruby's recollection of meeting Ma Rainey when Bessie took her backstage. It's in my book, but much better when you hear Ruby tell it.


  1. Chris I wish you'd put out all of Rudy's tapes on CD. I played the ones already released to death. People would definitely pay to hear them all. All of them regarding Bessie including Maude and whoever else. They are just wonderful and pieces of history that needs to be preserved and more mass produced so it doesn't disappear. In these she is more outspoken which is great! Really enjoyed it and really enjoyed both books on Bessie you did. I have read them both several times over the years. Hope you are doing well.


    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Alan, I hadn't thought of that, but I will look into the logistics involved. Your comments are encouraging.

    2. Really? I guess about 4 years ago I got into a phase where I was taking old cassette tapes that I had recorded in the 70's of family members and people who are no longer with us and putting them on CD. Glad I did! They are slowly disintegrating from age. Just like 8mm movie film from the 1950's. It is a very fragile medium now.

      You have a wealth of stuff that's probably kind of common to you because that's been your life's passion. But you are in the same league with Alan Lomax. He field recorded a historical period that has long since died out and moved on. The same goes with all the interviews you have done with jazz and blues artists, etc. I find it absolutely fascinating when I see you post more of the Ruby Tapes.

      It's much better hearing it coming straight from her mouth in her delivery which is blunt. Her recollections in print are a bit censored and you can't hear the inflections in her voice or her laughter that drives the point home in a book. You certainly get the idea of the story but boy when Ruby starts talking? LOL! There are lots of little bits and pieces in there that are fantastic that I've never heard before and I laughed out loud a lot. I certainly would buy a copy of them! It's of great historical significance Chris. And who cares about the quality where there's blips and stuff? Just let it roll and transfer it all. And if you are worried about her language? If people are offended by vulgar language then they don't need to buy it. They have that choice.

      Like the business with Eggie Pitts. The book talks about it some but her interview has a lot more detail and it makes the picture so much clearer - and FUNNIER! She's quite a character and I'm so glad you had the foresight to join forces with her. Think of the history that would have disappeared with her.

      Try it out yourself. Burn the CD's yourself on your own computer and sell them kind of like an independent record label. If you get swamped you can always find a larger label that can mass produce it. At least in the beginning the only money you are out are some blank CD's and a little media mail postage which would be absorbed by the purchase price.

      Give it a shot! I'm sure people that read your blog and have commented would buy it as well.

    3. You've talked me into it. I'll keep you informed.