Til The Butcher Cuts Him Down Transcript

Til The Butcher Cuts Him Down Transcript

- [Narrator] Buddy Bolden, Bunk Johnson, Buddie Petit, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory. In the old days in New Orleans, musicians were kings. Those who remain are old and their days are numbered. With them is passing the first chapter of American jazz. Of the legendary pioneers, one of the few remaining is Kid Punch Miller.

♪ Da da da da, da da da da ♪

♪ Da da da, da da da ♪

♪ Da da da da, da da da da ♪

♪ Da de da, ba ba da day dum ♪

♪ Ba ba da dee day dum ♪

♪ Ba ba da da dee dee, da da ♪

♪ Dee dee dee, dee dee dee dee ♪

- I oughta make a song there, I could sell that to somebody just like it is for $10, it's a $10. He'd make a big song out of it and make a million dollars. That's what you got to watch, you gotta watch that.

- [Narrator] When Punch played in New Orleans in the early 1920s, he was known as the King of the Blues. There was nobody who could play the blues like him. ♪ Mama, mama, mama, wanna know last night ♪ ♪ About the boy, the hungry boy ♪ ♪ The kid's so nice ♪ ♪ Every boy, every boy in the neighborhood ♪ ♪ Knew Kate could shimmy and it's understood ♪ ♪ So, I know I'm late but I'll be up to date ♪ Listen ♪ When I oh shimmy like my sister Kate ♪ ♪ Do, du, du, du ♪ ♪ Like my sister Kate ♪ We played more chords, now we got to end.

- That's the end right there.

♪ Du ♪

- That's the truth.

- [Narrator] At the turn of the century, New Orleans was a city of musicians. Everyone had music at weddings, wakes, picnics, dances. In Storyville, the red-light district--

- Hi, guys.

- [Narrator] Advertising in its store openings. Whereas Hollywood had search lights to attract attention, New Orleans had music.

- Man, it's hot out there again. Yeah.

- [Narrator] By the late 1950s, most of the older musicians in New Orleans were out of work. Television and jukeboxes had taken over. Even the greatest could not get a job playing regularly. Preservation Hall was founded to preserve New Orleans music, to give the public the chance to hear it, and to give the musicians an opportunity to play. The first bands to play at the hall were led by Kid Punch and Kid Thomas Valentine. Since the 1930s, I've spent most of my life studying New Orleans Jazz and writing about it and recording many of the bands. In 1938, I began working with friends on a book called "Jazz Man" and wrote chapters on New Orleans music. For six years, I worked at Tulane University as curator of the Archive of New Orleans Jazz. Through the years, I've kept files on as many musicians as possible. In 1957, I was very surprised to hear that Punch Miller had come back to town. I had been trying to keep track of him for years. Looking for him in Chicago. Hearing reports from jazz fans all over the country. That Punch had been in a medicine show in Omaha. Or someone writing that he had seen Punch in Montana. Others thinking they saw him with a carnival in Wyoming. Then I got rumors from all over that he had died in Chicago. One day a friend ran in and said "One of the greatest ever is back in town. Kid Punch Miller is back. He's just come by to pawn his watch." And I said, "Oh, that's impossible. I heard Punch died in Chicago."

- I hardly believe that's me. But it is. Punch sure can make a big change in years.

- [Speaker 1] You didn't thought you looked that good?

- Hmm?

- [Speaker 1] You didn't thought you looked that good?

- Oh yeah. I was like an employee once. Louis Armstrong gave me that trumpet. That's the trumpet he give me. Give you the picture.

- Oh he's nice. He look handsome on there.

- There you go.

- I see you, right.

- [Narrator] Punch was always proud of his technique and became famous for his ability to add little fast runs, fast fingering as they call it, to his beautiful phrases.

- [Voice On Recording] That's it. That's it. That's it, "Tiger Rag" Yes, indeed. That's it.

- [Lionel] That's you, Mr. Punch. You know that I got you though. You not but I got you. Yes, indeed. That's pretty as punch.

- Trombone.

- [Speaker 1] That's you?

- No, it's trombone. Uh, Nelson. I gotta come back in. Me.

- You comin' back in? That you. That you.

- [Punch] No, I ain't in it.

- [Speaker 1] No, it ain't him.

- [Punch] Now, here I come in, sure.

- [Speaker 1] That's you there.

- Watch that run, watch it. Some fingering there, boy. Now then, watch me go up. We're playing high in the world. You gotta go, Lionel. Yeah.

- Kid Punch Miller was born June the 10th, 1894 in Raceland, a small town west of New Orleans in the middle of the sugarcane country.

- [Punch] Man, that's the place I don't like talking about Raceland. I ain't never like it in my life. When I was a kid, I didn't like it. I was plowing on this farm six days a week for 80 cents a day. I'd go to work at 4:30 in the morning, I think, and work till sundown. The dark black dark. Five months a year we don't have anything to do but just walk around. And if you got anything, you live off it. And if you ain't, you go fishing, or you go out in the field and get you some cup of grass or something to eat to live on until time to go back to work. I run away from there, you know.

♪ I'm mighty sick but my looks don't show it ♪

♪ I'm almost dying and she don't know it ♪

♪ My poor heart is ailin' very bad ♪

♪ The way my pulse beating I know I can't last ♪

♪ I have did all that a poor sick one can do ♪

♪ Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba-Bum ♪

♪ It's really hard to love someone that don't love you ♪

♪ Don't love you ♪

♪ And my love has been refused ♪

♪ But some day you'll hear bad news ♪

♪ That's why I've got those last-go-round blues ♪

- [Speaker 2] How's, How you, how, how you feeling?

- [Punch] I might feel better but I don't feel good 'nuff anymore.

- [Speaker 2] Oh, don't worry about a thing. We'll be playin' all next week.

- [Speaker 3] You know you got a festival to play, so hurry up and get out the hospital and come on back and blow like you did before.

- If I could get rid of that pain right here, I'd be alright. I got a pain right there.

- [Narrator] Punch was quite ill when he came back to New Orleans. He has been down for a long time-- the price he paid for his sporting life in Chicago and his many years on the road. Shortly after he returned, he needed a new suit. We saw an advertisement for a new suit with two pair of trousers and Punch said, oh no, he didn't need two trousers. He wasn't going to live long enough to wear them out. But he did survive to play here and all over the states and in Europe and in Japan. He won't give up.

- [Speaker 4] When did you write that "I was Mistreated".

- [Punch] Well, I wrote it in Chicago too.

- [Speaker 4] Chicago?

- I didn't write no songs there but one or two.

- [Speaker 5] Oh that's a good--

- Back in the days of Old Orleans, I wrote that right there since I've been back.

- [Interviewer] Did that, was that come a dream too?

- Yeah. But that's a good song, Ja Jam. That song should be put on, you know in a place where it could be heard often. See it seemed to me like a fella come to me just in a joke. That's true. And he said, "Why you say I'm from the old country England?" And he said, "I never was here before, but I heard this place stay open all night, the city, and all day and people never sleep much." And said, "I want to get to understand some of that." Well and the song just come to me, see. And this is what I told him. I said, "Well this is all I can tell you about it."

♪ Years ago we'll talk about this city ♪

♪ That stays open every day and night ♪

♪ While the music would be playin' ♪

♪ People would be swayin' ♪

♪ Then they would come up a fight ♪

♪ Everyone was always getting mellow♪

♪ Laughing, talking as the dance goes on ♪

♪ Then everyone would stop still ♪

♪ And someone would yell blow girl ♪

♪ They're fighting over there--two fellows. ♪

♪ Then it would be over very soon ♪

♪ And the dance would go right on ♪

♪ For it was just like if nothing had happened ♪

♪ But no one would ever leave the dance for home ♪

♪ No, no ♪

♪ Anything else you would like to know about ♪

♪ Something that you really never seen? ♪

♪ Why it's been a long time ago ♪

♪ But someone will tell you more ♪

♪ Of back in the old days of New Orleans ♪

I like that song, I do.

- [Narrator] Many of the oldest New Orleans musicians say they got their first inspiration listening to the music in the churches where the music really jumped. Kid Ory told about one church. It was knocked off of its foundation, everyone got jumping so much that night.

- [Minister] You sure will die. Here's the reason why

♪ All day long in heaven ♪

♪ With the Great I Am ♪

♪ We'll go early in the morning ♪

♪ Won't you skip right out of the lamb ♪

♪ Oh, no ♪

♪ He don't ever change ♪

♪ Every day of ♪

♪ Little me ♪

♪ I'd like for you to know who He is ♪

♪ 'Cause you know the Lord come ♪

♪ He don't ever change ♪

♪ Ooh, Ooh, Lord ♪

♪ Every day He'll be the same ♪

Our Lord never change.

- [Narrator] In the church, the preacher is the leader. He shouts out the melody and the audience responds. The style of their music, the various parts, is somewhat like jazz where you have the trombone playing against the trumpet lead. The trumpet could be called the preacher and the congregation would be the trombone and the clarinet answering. The Mississippi Riverboats and the Lake Resorts guaranteed Punch and many other musicians, constant employment. They played for parades and funerals and advertised dances. Here the black man could compete with anyone.

- [Punch] Every Sunday there'd be 14 or 15 bands up and down the streets playing for advertisement for different dance halls. And we'd meet one another on the street and we'd blow after one another. And everybody, not just colored, white, colored, everybody and dance, dance, yeah. It was fun all the time. So much fun.

- [Narrator] Jazz started as dance music. We are not sure how it sounded in its earliest days. However, brass bands playing for funerals over a hundred years ago handed down the tradition of the old music. Today these funerals are often held for famous musicians. The band plays spirituals on the way to the funeral home. Almost jazz tempo because they have that wonderful swing. The people don't just stand by and watch a band, they go along with it. They are called the second line. The old time bands always talk about how they are inspired by the people enjoying themselves. The more they dance and sway, the better they play. At the funeral home, the procession picks up the body. It is carried to the hearse while the bass drum starts with three solemn beats leading into the slow dirge which is played on the way to the graveyard. It is hot in New Orleans. And as Bunk Johnson used to say "Don't play nothing faster than you can walk." And they walk rather slowly here. Today the graveyards are usually outside town. So the band plays for only three or four blocks then separates to both sides of the street allowing the procession to drive through. They call that turning the body loose. As soon as the hearse is out of sight the grand marshal blows his whistle and the band goes back to town playing the hottest tunes they can think of. They have to release that tension, that sorrowful feeling. In the old days they would make a joke out of it by starting with the song "Didn't He Ramble" "He rambled round the town 'till the butcher cut him down." He meant death, society in general, or his own life and troubles have cut him down.

- [Punch] When you lay off a trumpet for one or two weeks well it take it five, six days to get right. Can't get right.

- [Narrator] Punch was the Beatles' attraction of his day. He played with the rough, ready blues type band. Jack Carey's band, one of the best in town. And Punch really became the idol of the public, especially the women. That's how he gets his name Kid meaning he's a lady's man, also king of his instrument.

- [Punch] I was 23 years old and I started getting out there and laying down at night dreaming song, getting up, putting down the--what I dream, and after I write the words, the next thing I do, I get me a piece of manuscript paper and figure them notes out. I'd make 'em on my own.

♪ Ba-Ba-Da-De-Da-Da-Da ♪

♪ Ba-Da-De-Da-Da-Da ♪

See, that's a roll. But we played That's what you called jazz. Like the song said,

♪ Da-Da-Da-Da ♪

You see that's right, to two to three.

- [Narrator] Chicago's nightlife was at its height in the 1920s. Punch arrived there in 1927. He soon joined Jelly Roll Martin's Red Hot Peppers. They toured as far as New York to play at the Harlem Opera House. Punch finally quit because Jelly didn't like his men drinking. Punch did not enjoy restrictions on his personal life but it was one of his many bad breaks.

- [Punch] I first went to Chicago, I was playing in all the bands or anywhere I wanted to play. Drinking my liquor then but I wouldn't get drunk. I'd just have enough in there to do my weight. You know what I mean? So I got to the place where I just got a something like a fiend to liquor. If I wasn't drinking, I wasn't do nothing. I got so I won't doing no good and I'd get on a job and make two nights, get drunk and they wouldn't see me that week. Well I kept doing that, kept doing that. So the union and everybody else got against me, see. So don't y'all hire no more, no more. And I went around and walked around like that for about two years. Clothes, wearing out, no money, no nothing. My best gal, she quit me. All that. So this guy come in town with a big show and he heard about me and he wanted me to join his show. So I joined his show and hit the road with him. And this is the time when I told him about me sitting on the back step of the train on the coach. Look down at the train rolling, see? And the devil told me to jump off the train to kill myself and all of it would be over with. So I said no, I'm not going to do that. I go up my berth and I lay down. And that's how the song come from. Said

♪ For years and years I've had my fun ♪

♪ But life began to tell me at 41 ♪

♪ And I'm not that kind to stand aside ♪

♪ Because I've learned ♪

♪ And so I realize, so I'm going on, on and on ♪

♪ But who will listen to my song ♪

That's the verse. Now the chorus.

♪ I'm on the streets each and every day ♪

♪ Nothing ever seemed to go on my way ♪

♪ And it looks like I'm the clown ♪

♪ Can't you see how he leaves me around ♪

♪ When I awake this morning this is true ♪

♪ Saw someone I really thought was you ♪

♪ Just another blind man going round ♪

♪ And oh how that brings me down ♪

♪ And nothing I brought to this wide world ♪

♪ Nothing can I carry away ♪

♪ I'm just living and I'm proud of that ♪

♪ Tell me what more can I say ♪

♪ But just one more tough night like this ♪

♪ And I'll be willing to be dismissed ♪

♪ From this big city to some small town ♪

♪ Where I will not be dragged around ♪

- Take it easy. Take it easy now, watch your step.

- [Punch] Alrighty. Okie dokie. Gone on to the hospital. You're cut off. You come.

- [Interviewer] The festival's coming up Sunday. Do you think you'll feel up to it?

- That's what I can, gotta see the doctor.

- [Interviewer] Yeah.

- I gotta see him 'fore I go home. I don't know when he coming back and I can't just walk out there. That wouldn't be right.

- [Interviewer] How you, how you feeling?

- Huh?

- You feel okay?

- I feel okay? Yeah, I feel good. I can blow that horn, man. I can play my horn. But I, I gotta wait until they determine my blood was right, everything's going.

- [Interviewer] Okay.

- Know when he's coming back? You know when he coming back--the doctor? He might come back tomorrow. I sure would like to get out for Sunday, but I know I...

- We need you. Well we'll get you out there And you know, don't worry about a thing, you know. You know, because you know we love you here. You know-

- Allright.

- Come on and say hello to Kid.

- Okay.

- Let me hold your horn.

- That's why we lookin' for Kid.

- [Narrator] Both Dizzy Gillespie and Kid Ory were scheduled for the festival. Kid Ory had planned to play with Punch but he has been very ill.

- He was with Kid Ory, Johnny Dodds. I think , Louis Armstrong. And I just got out the army. Remember I just come from the Army, World War I and I went up to play some numbers with y'all. Y'all gimme a nice time. Remember that, eh?

- Yeah, sure.

- Wallace, you play the lead or designate who you think should play the lead on the different parts of it. You know, we'll just do like a chorus and a half. Just playin' it. Then we finish that and he says the show's on and then the lights pick up all the trumpets and you come in and that's the second half of the show.

- 1, 2, 3, and No the bridge, the bridge.

- Oh, the bridge. Okay, okay. Okay.

- 1, 2, same vibe.

- No sweat.

- What we gonna do?

- Right, don't worry Oh, yeah.

- Yeah, and I meant that...

- [Pianist] All right I'll make it complicated.

- Let's see.

- [Pianist] And.

- I am Dick Allen. George Wein has asked me to introduce to you one of the great trumpet stylists of Louis Armstrong's generation. I think actually this man is too modest to admit it, but he must have influenced Louis himself. It's Kid Punch Punch Miller, come on out Punch. And his regular clarinet man, Raymond Burke. Punch Miller.

- One of Louis's old friends.

- Yeah, one of the old boys. I come along together with Louis Armstrong. We played parades and everything together young. Then I met him in Chicago and worked there a while with him. So he got the break and I didn't, but I'm still satisfied.

- Can use it on the mic.

- Watch your footing.

♪ I know why I waited ♪

♪ Know why I've been blue ♪

♪ Satisfied for someone ♪

♪ My darling, just like you ♪

♪ Why should we spend money? ♪

♪ Lots a money on a show or two ♪

♪ When no one does no love scene ♪

♪ My darling like you ♪

♪ And you make me feel so grand ♪

♪ Wants to hand the world to you ♪

♪ You seem to understand ♪

♪ These foolish little dreams I'm dreaming ♪

♪ And scheming ♪

♪ And now I know now why my mother ♪

♪ Taught me to be true ♪

♪ Because she meant me for someone ♪

♪ My darling, just like you ♪

♪ I want to be a go getter ♪

♪ Swing out, swing out ♪

♪ In the gloom, in the gloom, in the gloom ♪

♪ Miss Mary had a little lamb ♪

♪ It's fleece as white as snow ♪

♪ And everywhere that Mary went ♪

♪ The lamb was sure to go ♪

♪ So I wanna be a go getter ♪

♪ Swing out, swing out ♪

♪ In the gloom, in the gloom, in the gloom ♪

♪ It's 8, 9 and 10 ♪ ♪ That's when my love began ♪

♪ It's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 ♪

♪ It's 8, 9, and 10 ♪

♪ That's when my love began ♪

♪ It's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 ♪

♪ Looky here ♪ ♪ Miss Mary had another lamb ♪

♪ Fleece was black as jet ♪

♪ And I went home with Mary last night ♪

♪ I ain't stopped scratching yet ♪

♪ Oh, 8, 9, and 10 ♪

♪ That's when my love began ♪

♪ It's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 ♪

♪ Yeah, come on ♪

- We're gonna do a little number now we call "You Can Depend On Me and That's My Home."

♪ Although you said we're through babe ♪

♪ But I'll always love you ♪

♪ You can depend on poor me ♪

♪ Baby ♪

♪ Someone you've met ♪

♪ My darlin', have taught you to forget, oh ♪

♪ You can count on poor me ♪

♪ Now looky here baby ♪

♪ I hope you success ♪

♪ And loads of happiness ♪

♪ Baby ♪

♪ I must confess ♪

♪ I belong, so long, for long, so long for ♪

♪ But if you ever, ever need a friend ♪

♪ Well I'm yours until the end, oh ♪

♪ You can depend on poor me ♪

Now, this is the voice I really like. This is good.

♪ Where the sun sets in the sky, baby ♪

♪ And flowers never, never die, die ♪

♪ Friends don't pass you by ♪

♪ That's my home there ♪

♪ When y'all says, how do you do? ♪

♪ And I know doggone well they mean it too, boy ♪

♪ Where old mammy love is true ♪

♪ Oh that's my home ♪

♪ And it don't matter how I wrong ♪

♪ I'm always welcome back ♪

♪ Yeah, for you it's like an old shack ♪

♪ But to me to me to me that's home sweet home ♪

♪ Where this Swanee River flows ♪

♪ And fields of cotton grow ♪

♪ Please don't you say no more ♪

♪ ♪

- [Audience shouts] Encore! Encore!

- Punch Miller.

- I ain't made my ending like I wanna make. Give me another chorus.

- One more chorus he's going to do 'cause that one didn't make.

♪ And fields of cotton grow ♪

♪ Please don't you say no more ♪

♪ Michael, that's my ♪

♪ That's my home ♪

- [Allen] Punch. Punch is coming back ladies and gentlemen. Punch Miller

- [Punch] How do I look?