[Dixielandjazz] Punter put-downs

Ken Mathieson ken at kenmath.free-online.co.uk
Mon Sep 1 17:26:58 PDT 2008

Hi All,

We seem to be embarking on a rich seam of "punter put-down" stories via Bob Roman's Dan Barett tail and Larry Walton's Gary Dammer story. Here's one you won't have heard before:

There used to be an eccentric piano player in Glasgow, Scotland called Douglas Wylie, who could turn his hand very proficiently to most kinds of music. Douglas also looked and talked exactly like those "upper-crust" RAF officers in old British war movies of the 1950s: a real "ya-ya" accent, flowery diction, long silver-white hair, handlebar moustache, immaculately dressed etc, which initially seemed like affectation, but was actually the real Douglas, Back in the 1970s, when North Sea oil was just taking off and Scotland was suddenly full of Texan business men on big expense accounts, I was playing a jazz gig with Douglas's trio of local musicians in the bar of a swanky Glasgow hotel. For those who have never visited Glasgow, it's a pretty down to earth place where people talk as bluntly as New Yorkers, and where you can say almost anything to anyone as long as it's funny (actually New York and Glasgow should be twinned).

Anyway, we were playing a rocking, jazz shuffle boogie piece for the locals, when in from the restaurant strolled a couple, he in business suit, cowboy boots and Stetson, she in a very fancy party outfit. He went off to the bar to order drinks that were clearly already surplus to requirements, while she leapt around the floor to our music, watched in some astonishment by the locals in the bar. At the end of the piece, this very enebriated lady advanced on Douglas and said: "gee that was fantastic; what nationality are you guys?" Without blinking, Douglas replied in his cultured tones and with a dead-pan expression: "Madam, we are Nigerians; we simply white up to gain employment." It took an age for the it to sink in with the lady, during which I chickened out and was obliged to fix an imaginary problem with my bass drum pedal to avoid a fit of the giggles.

Ah, memories!


Ken Mathieson

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