Get Jack Dempsey - Page 3
It was in the midst of that daydream that I heard a familiar tune being played on an acoustic guitar from the back of the store – a bluesy riff reminiscent of Hubert Sumlin’s Smokestack Lightning. I followed the sound and found the stores owner, a Turkish guy named Emir, sitting on the arm rest of a vintage settee listening to a guy in a black punch-top-hat playing it smooth on a vintage J-50 (Gibson).
“It’s real nice Emir,” the guy says without looking up from the guitar. “I’d say at least a grand if not more”.
“I knew it!” Emir said with a sign of relief. “My wife, she always tells me I’m not to be buying guitars anymore; but I always can tell the good ones from the shit ones.”
I laughed. Not so much at what he said, but at the way he said it. He sees me in the doorway and encourages me to join them.
“You want to play this guitar?” Emir says. “Give him the guitar.” he tells the guy sitting beside him.
“No, no.” I tell them. “I play records not instruments.”
“Ah,” Emir says noticing the album I’m holding, “Michael Jack-son. The best.”
“Let me see that.” the musician says to me and I hand him the record.
“Damn, if that kid could write a song.” He says and then begins strumming She’s Out of My Life.
I grab a seat on the ground before him. He sings the first verse of the song in that distinctive Jack Dempsey growl and I get a chill down my spine.
When he finishes I ask him if he is Jack Dempsey.
He snickers. “No,” he answers, “I am not Jack Dempsey.”
“Sorry,” I tell him, “it’s just that you sound so much like him and your hat and…”
He looks up ever so slightly from beneath the wide brim of his hat, “I am not Jack Dempsey.” he says again, this time more assertively. “No one is.”
A moment passes in silence.
“Where’d you learn to play guitar like that?” I ask him.
Continued on the next page
“The street.” he tells me. He explains that the street musicians he’s met throughout his life showed him the basics and he just kinda took it from there. He talked about how he’d been gotten most of his education on a Chicago street called Maxwell; at a time when the famed Maxwell Street Market was in its hay day.