Black Benny

2003 © Music and Lyrics by Thomas L’Etienne

Thomas l’ Etienne * Hamburg (D), Apr 8, 1956

The song is about the bass drummer Black Benny Williams, who was a famous bass drummer in the 1910s and 1920s playing in famous brass band as the Onward, Camelia Brass Band (led by Wooden Joe Nicholas) the Tuxedo and Henry “Kid” Rena’s brass band. He also played in pick up brass bands like the band of Kid Ory. In the lyrics, Thomas tells a story of Black Benny, taking Louis Armstrong to Kid Ory.

Man ,the music‘s really grooving and the weather‘s just fine.
Everybody who‘s not playing simply joins the second line.
All the folks in the street are dancing to the beat,
that old Black Benny‘s laying down , it goes right to your feet.
See that  boy tied to the bass drum he‘s taking in those licks
Just check him out,he‘s stealing Benny‘s tricks
And while he‘s holding on to him his eyes are full of pride.
Tell me who‘s that little boy  there walking at Black Benny‘s side?

On a Friday night at Lala‘s there‘s Kid Ory on the bill.
You‘ll hear no better music in the whole of Storyville .
But who knows that young kid  that Benny brought along.
Who dares to take his trumpet out and asks to play a song.
Seems like Kid Ory‘s really digging what this kid is putting down,
„One day he‘ll be the hottest thing in town.“
Then Ory turns to Benny and his face breaks in a smile:
„That boy‘s gonna make it, you just wait a little while.“
There was Jelly Roll ,Bunk Johnson,Buddy Bolden and King Joe,
but it  was little Louis the whole world was soon to know,
Not just another name in Jazz‘s Hall of Fame,
but music after Pops, we know,  would never be the same.
Yet who‘s ever heard of Benny,a guy built like a tree,
a drinking man and tough as steel was he.
He loved to chase the women and played the bass drum in the band,
but let‘s remember him for taking Louis by the hand.