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Portrait: Jesse Fuller


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I met Jesse in about 1960-61 when he was touring west coast music venues and coffee houses.  He was playing at the 13th Avenue Gallery and Cafe Espresso in Portland, Oregon.  While he was in town, he was  staying with my neighbor, Jeffrey.  I feel so fortunate to have met Jesse, and had a "command performance" of  San Francisco Bay Blues, after having Jeffrey and Jesse over for dinner.  A gentleman!

in the early 60's after listening to his first record and drinking a lot we fraternity guys called him (# on the album: lone cat fuller ) had the brilliant idea the  to send jesse $25 and asked him to come to uva in charlottsville to play a concert, never expecting him to come but happy to help fund his career. however after a week we received a collect phone call from jesse. he was on his way over the rockies and heading our way, arriving in a week. he was reticent about going through georgia but said he had his shotgun in his nash rambler and wanted to be sure virginia was an ok place top be. we had now to scramble to put together a concert at uva, which we did, complete with fliers, and soon another call from the outskirts of c'ville and we went to escort him to the house. there he was at a gas station,  entertaining some workers with tap dancing and plating his 12string. great concert, gigs in a few bars (where he could play but not eat or drink...), fraternity on probation because he slept at the house (...) and he left with some good cash. ate sardines, soda crackers and ice cream. no drinks for him and he taught several of us some guitar licks. he returned to va and gave a concert in richmond etc. a really fine person all around. had a few letter conversations and tried to set him up in wash dc but by then he had a real manager who was aghast at our audacity and jesse was confounded why he could not come to dc... miss him but still play a few of his songs, complete with my harmonica and kazoo...

What a great film, I love watching history like this an amazing talent. Agreed born in the wrong time and place...

Thanks for this! It was a great chance for a guy, born too late (and in the wrong place), to witness Jesse Fuller at the end of his career. I particularly enjoyed Jesse's between song patter. Kudos to all of the people involved. Watch for my forthcoming book on one man bands, which includes a full chapter on Jesse, with remembrances by Jesse Cahn, Robert "One Man" Johnson, Ian Bennetts and others.

Very enjoyable film and a great project.  I must correct a small typo, though.  The location at the Oakland Museum is the "Cowell" Hall of California History, not "Crowell."

Keep up the good work.

Drew Johnson, curator of photography, Oakland Museum of California

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