In his intro to "Constipation Blues," Screamin' Jay Hawkins talks about how most people record songs about love, heartbreak, loneliness and being broke, while nobody writes songs about real pain. Then, after a few bars of slow blues, Hawkins starts grunting and groaning like he's trying to shit a shotput or something, and tells us about his troubles and how he's got a pain down inside that won't be denied. Every time he tries, he just can't be satisfied. Let it go, he says, please let it go. The song ends with him making splash and flush noises, and talking about how everything's gonna be all right. I laughed so hard I cried the first forty or so times I heard that song. Now it just makes me laugh — but then, I'll laugh at pretty much any fart joke.
When, guitar in hand, I recently made my way to the stage at Ziggie's (4923 West 38th Avenue) for one of the club's five weekly jam nights, "Constipation Blues" was running through my head. I was seriously considering playing the song — and singing it, too. Even though I'm not much of a singer, grunting is a snap, and since there's really only one verse to the song, the lyrics are easy to remember.
As best I could recall, I'd only sung "Constipation Blues" in public twice before: once at a blues jam at the old 15th Street Tavern (which will be resurrected in the new year at 1028 Park Avenue West) and once at a blues jam at Brendan's, which is now Pat's Philly Steaks and Subs (1624 Market Street). And both times, massive amounts of alcohol inspired me.
But when push came to shove at Ziggie's, I started some funk thing in A minor instead of "Constipation Blues" because a) I wasn't buzzed enough to do the song, and b) I didn't know anybody in the place and realized that the song isn't an ideal icebreaker. By the end of the night, though, I'd at least met everybody in the joint, including Cherie DuFour, the killer guitarist who was hosting the jam and has her own band, Du4 Roux, which plays what she calls "mystic voodoo rock."
DuFour, it turns out, is also one of the club's new owners. A few weeks ago, she and Carla Jordan took over Ziggie's, dropping the "Saloon" from its name and starting to fix up the place, which has gone through a few hands since it opened back in 1964. Over the next few months, DuFour says, they'll modernize the space a bit, giving the '70s-era interior a much-needed paint job and adding a smoking patio. Ziggie's also has a new website: www.ziggieslivemusic/com.
Since Ziggie's has a long blues history, DuFour and Jordan plan to continue bringing in blues and rock bands on the weekends, but DuFour says they also hope to branch out into jazz and Brazilian music. And in the meantime, the club remains an ideal place for musicians who want to jam and hone their chops in a live setting, since Ziggie's hosts a blues jam on Sundays, a rock jam on Mondays, an open jam with Brian Hornbuckle on Tuesdays, Du4's open jam on Wednesdays and an acoustic jam on Thursdays.
Next time I'm there, I'm definitely doing "Constipation Blues."
Club scout: Ten blocks east of Ziggie's, El Chapultepec Too (3930 West 38th Avenue) has been hosting a pretty hip jazz jam every Wednesday. On a recent visit to the club, I heard a lot of younger cats burning it up with a few of the city's heavy hitters, including Jeff Jenkins and Greg Gisbert.
La Bohème Gentlemen's Cabaret (1443 Stout Street) will throw its fourth annual Pimp and Ho, Ho, Ho's Party on Saturday, December 22, starting at 7 p.m. Expect drink specials, free giveaways all night, DJ Lady Tribe on the turntables and, of course, lots of hot girls.