Favorite

Driftin' Slim Mickle 

click to enlarge 'LITTLE MACHINE': Slim Mickle.
  • 'LITTLE MACHINE': Slim Mickle.
During his career as a bluesman, Keo native Elmon Mickle was known by a variety of nicknames: Harmonica Harry, Model T Slim, Drifting Smith, but the stage name that stuck best was Driftin’ Slim. Born Feb. 24, 1919, to Eva and William Mickle, Mickle said, “I didn’t have to work on no sharecropper or nothing like that.” While still in his late teens, Mickle persuaded John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson I to coach him on harmonica. (This Sonny Boy Williamson is not to be confused with Sonny Boy “Rice Miller” Williamson II, who lived and died in Helena.) Later in life, Driftin’ Slim would brag he could perform every number John Lee Williamson ever recorded. Although Mickle could play more contemporary blues styles as well as the older rural blues, blues were unfashionable by the time he first recorded. Mickle lived and played in Little Rock in the 1940s and early ’50s. During this time, he cut songs like “My Little Machine” at area radio stations KDRK and KGHI. Mickle also recorded several tracks at a North Little Rock music store in the early 1950s with Ike Turner, who was a record label talent scout as well as a performer. The Driftin’ Slim track “Good Morning Baby,” recorded May 6, 1952, in North Little Rock, features Ike Turner on piano, guitarists Babyface Turner and Junior Brooks and Bill Russell on drums. Mickle moved to Los Angeles in 1957 and was based out of California for the rest of his career. He continued playing a variety of instruments and recorded standard blues for smaller labels like Wonder, Kent and Elko. Never hugely popular, Mickle didn’t cash in on the late 1950s-’60s folk-blues revivals. But Mickle really found his voice when performing as a one-man band — singing and playing harmonica, guitar, hi-hat and bass drum. Recordings made in December 1966 and January 1967 show he was a natural storyteller. Long through with commercial blues recording, Mickle was a California factory worker when he made these recordings for UCLA’s Center for Comparative Study of Folklore and Mythology — and they’re possibly his most personal and interesting songs. One story Mickle tells has him getting knocked out in the woods outside Keo as a lad by a tree being loaded onto a wagon. He had moved to the wrong spot while getting a dip of snuff from a friend: “I ain’t liked no snuff since.” “I had a sister and a brother before me,” Mickle explains in another song. “... I was the third child my mother had. The first one my mama had — I don’t know which one of them, daddy or mama — laid on him and smothered him to death. The second one, was vice-versa. I got awful close [to being suffocated] myself.” As he glibly continues with the horrific tale, Mickle’s maternal grandparents rescue him from his parents, which angers the paternal side. A 9 a.m. duel on the streets of Keo is planned for the next day between Mickle’s grandfathers, “but the people in the community, they talked them out of it.” He concludes: “If you need any further information, you can write Keo, Arkansas, and write Arch Mickle.” Elmon “Driftin’ Slim” Mickle died in 1977 in California. listening • “This World is None of My Home” • “I’m Hunting Somebody” • “Till I Got Sixteen” • “My Little Machine”
Favorite

Tags:

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Stephen Koch

  • Young Gods of America come to Revolution

    Also, American Princes at Lost Forty and White Water, Arkansas basketball at Verizon, "The Great Russian Nutcracker" at Robinson Center Music Hall, Kwanzaa, Festivus at the Firehouse, 'The Polar Express' in Hot Springs, Noon Year's Eve at the Mid-America Science Museum and Peckerwolf and co. at Dogtown Sound.
    • Dec 22, 2016
  • Gucci Mane comes to Clear Channel Metroplex

    And more.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • More »

Most Shared

  • UPDATE: Retired Arkansas Arts Center director Townsend Wolfe dies at 81

    Townsend Durant Wolfe, III, retired director and chief curator of the Arkansas Arts Center, has died at 81.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in Arkansongs

  • Floyd Cramer's country keys

    Floyd Cramer, who grew up in Huttig, became one of the most important piano players in the development of country music.
    • May 3, 2007
  • Dorough finds his voice

    From his beginnings in Cherry Hill, Bob Dorough knew music was his thing.
    • Mar 15, 2007
  • ‘Sunday Afternoon’

    Soundtrack album forges on without film.
    • Jan 25, 2007
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Viewed

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation