[Dixielandjazz] Studs Terkel and Barrett Deems

JimDBB at aol.com JimDBB at aol.com
Mon May 5 17:07:45 PDT 2003

In a message dated 5/5/2003 12:43:19 PM Central Standard Time, 
charliehooks at earthlink.net writes:

>  Chicago had and has so many great characters that we could write books.
> Come to think of it, Studs Terkel probably already has.

     When you mentioned Studs Terkel the following incident came to mind.  
Studs is a bit like Columbo in that he is a lot sharper than he lets on.

     As you know Studs Terkel has done a daily radio show in Chicago for many 
years.  His Show is carried on WFMT, a high quality Classical music station.  
Terkel usually ha a guest on each day and the guests would cover a wide range 
of people, writers, musicians politicians, actors and people in general of 
some particular interest. Barrett Deems called me one day and said that Studs 
Terkel wanted him on his show as a guest.  Barrett asked if I would pick out 
some records that he was on and go with him for this.  

     We took a mix of recordings; his first record with Joe Venuti, 
recordings with Muggsy Spanier, Louis Armstrong and others, including, of 
course, the recording on Delmark that he did with us. We walked into the 
studio and looked around.  There were a bunch of Studs's artifacts 
around...books, paintings and what not that people had given him.  I spotted, 
over in the corner, a toy drum.  I was puzzled and I began to wonder, did 
Studs put that toy drum there on purpose or is it some quirky gift that 
someone gave to him? Studs didn't refer to it all, didn't mention it or look 
at it.  Barrett spotted it and proceeded to fool around with it, playing on 
it and reminiscing about his his first drum.  Studs Terkel very neatly used 
that in the show and I thought, "Studs Terkel is a clever s.o.b. He put that 
drum there deliberately to draw Barrett into his childhood." This worked and 
loosened Barrett up for the remainder of the program.  As effusive and 
outspoken as Barrett Deems is, he clams up on live radio.  The resulting show 
was one of Studs's best.

    I later did a show with Studs on the trombone.  He is very knowledgeable 
about Jazz and music in general.  He is well into his 80s and still going 
strong.  He and Franz Jackson were both on the Praire Home Companion some 
months back.

Chicago is not the same without Barrett Deems and Mike Royko.  It is a much 
blander place.

Jim Beebe


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