"Bullshit" by Sweet Lips Neckbone (retired) Disc-O-Graph Vol.2 Issue 4 Although most blues collectors are acquainted with the works of such seminal bluesmen as Robert Johnson, "Blind Lemon" Jefferson, or Leadbelly, very few are familiar with (or even aware of) the important works of Lucas "Horned Rabbit" Bode. Now, thanks to the recent discovery of several obscure recordings, Gogo Records of Nice, France, have made available a complete collection of Horned Rabbit's recorded works. For those who don't know, a bit of background is necessary, Horned Rabbit was born sometime during the Civil War in Yanopatawpha County, Mississipi. Scholars are not sure how he obtained his unusual nickname, although there are mentions of an occurance in his childhood when he averted his own death by running out of his master's house as it was being shelled by Union troops. What exactly that means, no one knows. Regardless, Horned Rabbit soon established a name for himself in the milltowns of Yoknapatawpha County as an entertainer and singer. Unfortunately, that name was rather nasty, and he was soon run out of Mississippi. He became a wandering minstrel, a journeyman blues singer, a musical nomad. He wandered from town to town singing and strumming his guitar, or sometimes a clarinet when no guitar could be found. One memorable episode in Horned Rabbit's wanderings was when the veteran blues man was heard by the then-youthful Robert Johnson. Johnson used to tell the story; "I remember I was about twelve years old, and I'd stand out in the streets listening to the bluesmen come to town. One night I heard something unusual, it was Horned Rabbit. There he stood, singin' and strummin' his clarinet. It was the most unusual sound I'd heard, and, of course, I wasn't until years later that I found out most people blew into a clarinet. "Never could figure out how ol' Rabbit did it. Had some kind of ferocious slide technique, though." Unfortunately, tragedy struck, as a bad reed cane crop made clarinet reeds almost unobtainable in the southwest. Horned Rabbit tried to keep playing, but with no reed he looked so foolish that most crowds threw bacon at him. For awhile, Rabbit was confused, until his Rabbi told him it was kosher to get hit by bacon, so long as he didn't eat any of it. Finally, Horned Rabbit made the big move of his life. With a brand new clarinet, he had established a name for himself in the hot club district of Kansas City. Although he was by then blind, he had a young assistant who took him to and from the lucrative engagements, leading Horned Rabbit by the hand through the streets of Kansas City. One night while he was playing the Novelty Club (Sixteenth and McGee), word came that the rich young New Yorker John Hammond was interested in recording the aged bluesman, and that Hammond was making a special trip out to see Rabbit that night. After having discovered such Kansas City stalwarts as Joe Turner, Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis, Hammond was looked upon as a windfall for the now almost eighty-year old bluesman. Unfortunately, while crossing a street on the way to the club, Rabbit's young guide tripped, and both were hit by a truck and killed. The Gogo recordings were made in Austin, Texas in June 1926. Most are unaccompanied performances, although Rabbit is playing guitar instead of clarinet (the early acoustic recordings were too delicate to handle the huge sonorities of Horned Rabbit's clarinet). On two tracks though, Rabbit is joined by the Austin brass band, who had arrived for their recording session a few minutes earlier. The two tunes, "Red Gulley Blues" and "The Stars and Stripes Forever", show Horned Rabbit at his best in the blues shout style (on "Red Gulley Blues", for example, note the keen harmonic sense when he sings "Damn it, George, get these arseholes out of here!). Gogo records are obtainable from Mervo Records, and Flatwear, 2932 Hardwood Terrace, Buena Vista California, 90620. The title is "Horned Rabbit, Complete", and costs $8.98, plus postage.