Joseph "Little Blue" Franklin died in 1996, and his "Caffa" is closed.
I've included Little Blue's Caffa in JUNIOR'S JUKE JOINT for several reasons: (1) out of respect for Little Blue and for his son, James Earl "Blue" Franklin, and for his wife, Elvira Walls; (2) because of the possibility that someone may reopen the Caffa; and (3) and last and by no means least, I had a hell of a good time in it.|
Here's a look at Little Blue's Caffa. When I took the photo, I was standing in the middle of South Hinds Street and facing west, toward the Mississippi River.
At the front of the car and at the front edge of the building, you can barely see a red-brick retaining wall around a flower bed which contains no flowers. I spent several marvelous afternoons sitting on that little wall and sipping coffee while Little Blue, age 70+, talked about life stuff.
You know what I mean by "life stuff": women, children, grandchildren, women, rich women, ugly rich women, beer, the best coffee, why some people hate other people because of their skin color, wives, ex-wives, women, etc., etc.
Needless to say, I miss Little Blue Franklin.
In the photo on the right, that's Little Blue playing drums and Otis Taylor on bass. Little Blue is singing Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man." However, he changed the lyrics and sang, "Well, you ain't so tall. / You just got it all."
I don't think Jimmy would mind.
Much to my surprise this white girl came strolling in and joined the party. And, yes, she's doing nasty things to that innocent pole. But, hey, the band was playing low down, funky, nitty gritty dance with me somebody blues, so let that white girl have fun.
From left to right in the photo below we see Otis Taylor on bass, Little Blue Franklin on drums, Terry Bean blowing harp, and T-Model Ford on guitar. T-Model didn't have a gig anywhere, so he just showed up and joined the band. Y'all, it was an awesome night.
T-Model and Little Blue got along fine that night, but they had fueded for years. Here's a conversation between me and T-Model about Little Blue:
T-Model: "He had a place on Nelson Street one time and I was in there and he stuck a pistol in my belly and said, 'I'm gonna blow yore fuckin' guts out, T-Model.'"
Me: "Damn, T-Model! What happened?!"
T-Model with a grin and the index finger of his right hand in his right ear: "My wife stuck her pistol in his ear and said, 'You pull yore trigger I'm pulling mine.'"
Here's a conversation between me and Little Blue about T-Model:
Me: "Little Blue, T-Model told me he had 26 kids. You reckon he's got that many kids?"
Little Blue: "Nahhhh. Ain't no way."
Me, later: "Little Blue, how many kids you got?"
Little Blue: "If they'as all livin', 14. Got 11 livin'. Course they got 4--no, 5--different mommas."
Here's a shot of Stella, T-Model's wife. She's all decked out in her Sunday best, and she's getting down and dirty to the Saturday night blues.
Yes, I will miss Little Blue Franklin and Little Blue's Caffa. For one thing, Little Blue's son, James Earl "Blue" Franklin, is a fine bass guitar player, possibly the best in the Delta, and I never got to see him play with his father.
Y'all, that would have been something to see.