- Love and Pain
- Rhythm of Spring
by Dian Fulmer (SHS)
Charles Jacobs III, Charlie “Love,” was born in 1958 in Cleveland, Mississippi. He was married to Mose Allison’s daughter Alissa for a while (Hood) and a daughter, Kaley Jacobs, who lives in New Orleans with her mother, is the result of that union (Allison). He also has a half brother, Frank Dalton Alley (Pettus). Although Charlie Jacobs was a very popular Mississippi musician, information about him has been difficult for me to find. (See Tangent member Duff Dorrough’s history below). Jacobs was a member of the musical group, The Tangents. They last performed as a group with Charlie in 1995. Charlie was known as Charlie “Love” because “there was no bad bone in his body,” according to photographer David Rae Morris, son of the late Willie Morris.
Charlie Jacobs died in April of 1997 at the young age of thirty-nine due to heart failure. According to Orley Hood of the Clarion-Ledger, it was “The Life” that killed him. Hood says that Charlie Jacobs lived hard in “the Delta. Out in Colorado. Down in New Orleans.” Jacobs is buried in Clark Mound Cemetery in the Delta. Gerald “Duff” Dorrough says, “Charlie was such a fighter, a survivor,” and Jim “Fish” Michie says,”…you could tell the music came from the toes on up when he played” (Pettus). Duff and Fish are former members of The Tangents.
At the funeral for Jacobs were many well-known Mississippians, including writers Larry Brown, Willie Morris, Barry Hannah, and Larry and Dean Faulkner Wells. Jill Connor Browne on hearing of the death of Charlie Jacobs, wrote in the Mississippi Business Journal:
“…they tell me Charlie Jacobs is dead. If you are in your 40’s and didn’t spend the 1980s under a rock, you know and love Charlie Jacobs. Charlie was with The Tangents. Malcolm White, who has heard a couple of bands in his life, says that The Tangents are and always will be his Very Favorite Band. Not just his favorite local band – his favorite band of ALL.
I could not go to the funeral. Call me a wuss. I did it as a kindness to everybody else who was there…I knew I’d be rolling around, wailing, if I went and so I didn’t. I did, however, find an old tape I had of The Tangents… I even used some of their stuff in my ( dance) classes. I put that tape on and lay down on the floor in between the speakers. The tape came on, cued to Charlie singing “Love and Pain.” Most of the tape was recorded live at George Street. My eyes were closed and I was THERE. I could see him. Watching Charlie play was as good as hearing him. Charlie was one of those rare true musicians – he didn’t learn the music, he was the music. The harp and the sax, that raspy, sexy voice – that’s just how the music got out of him. It was a sight to see when it happened. His body contorted, face twisting, grimacing, grinning, eyes rolled up, fluttering or squeezed shut tight, oceans of sweat streaming down his body, shining in the spotlight. And the music just carrying him – and me – away. I would dance to every note they played – I could not resist it – sweating every bit as much.I listen to this tape and, as much at it makes my heart sing with the sweetness of the memories, the knowledge that he is gone makes me feel like my whole body has turned to liquid and it’s coming out my eyes…”
Hey now, this is Duff Dorrough speak-typing at y’all from Sunflower River just east of Ruleville, Ms. I’ve been playing music since i was 16 and i am 48 now. In 1975 i moved back to the Delta from Nashville, having bummed around with different bands from Illinois to Memphis, making little or no money–of course- but making what i now consider treasured friendships with a few lone pickers and paying some dues. Coming back to my hometown of Ruleville and checkin’ out the local music scene was a trip because the little dudes were all grown up. And doing all sorts of wild thangs.
My younger brother , John Robert, told me to check out two fellas in particular. One was Billy Marquis, a hotdog guitar slinger then with a group called Ringtailed Sunshine (Monkey Hippies?) playing in Leland at the now legendary Blue Jug. The other was Jim Ellis, an original if there ever beeed one, who was doing a solo thing at Doc Holiday’s in Moorhead (big college town,
you know). John Robert was right. Both these boys had something original and powerful to offer. In later years we would all play together in various combinations. Ironically, we would all play at the funeral of the guy i’m fixin’ to get to. The Mattress Factory in Cleveland had been just that–a funky old concrete floored tin building where mattresses were made. By ’75 it was a swingin’ little bar with pool tables, fooseball and girls. But hardly any bands. The Mattress became a nightly ritual for a bunch of us Ruleville renegades with too little money and too much time on our hands.
By ’76 i had been in a wonderfully weird band called the Casuals who played regularly at King’s Cafe on Hwy 82 in Greenwood. In that group (that included Mike Dill, drums, and John Evans, keyboards) i reunited with David Parker (Groovy) a young hot bass player from Memphis that i’d met and became close to a few years back. The Casuals was a name i thought corny and told Groovy we needed to change it immediately. He got that sideways, thoughtful smile on his face and informed me that, not only did we need to keep the name, “The Casuals”, but that–‘Don’t you see, Duff? It’s a Great name! It’s perfect.’ And so we were casual until the club owner refused to put our name out front on the Blinking Sign–He had his own sign up that read (in big lit-up letters) “Try our wonderful Sausage & Biscuit”. Well-a Hell-a. Whatcha gon do? We figured out a way to have our biscuits and eat ’em, too. We changed our cosmic casual name to……….what else?…….The Sausage & Biscuit Boys. Though the band was packin’ ’em in at King’s we kept getting fired and re-hired. Then re-fired. The Biscuits rolled on, changing clubs, towns, and personnel.
One night back at The Mattress in Cleveland (when we weren’t playing) i met a high school kid who was a dead ringer for my first cousin. He was playing fooseball, smoking a cigarette & talking to two or three people at the same time. We were introduced and laughed about the cousin resemblance and just generally hit it off. This boy was under aged and not s’pose to even be in the club but he had a self-confident hangin’ swagger that said: I’m old enough–don’t Even ask me for an I.D. Not long after that night, the Sausage & Biscuit
Boys invaded The Mattress in all their bourbon–soaked glory. We were now Mike Ray, keyboards, Steve Morrison (of Morrison Bros Music), bass, Wendy Jennings from Tutwiler on drums, and myself on vocals and guitar.
Early into the evening the under aged cigarette-smoking kid who looked like my cousin began to ease toward the stage when i realized he was being egged on by some high school pardners to get up and play. He really was nervous (that was probably the last time) and had to be needled into finally getting up. The place was packed with wild screaming kids and drunks and the kid was fixin’ to make his local debut. He had a ragged harmonica which he played fairly out-of-tune but that didn’t matter. He was pure energy once we started the song. I believe he did “She Caught The Katy” by Taj Mahal. I still have a tape of this night somewhere and it is no exaggeration to say that he killed ’em. He wasn’t that good of a singer (although that would swiftly change), and his harp playing was rough, but he killed em with sheer energy. This performance was not lost on me. I said to myself and the band that night, ‘This guy would make a great front man with a little work’. The crowd screamed their approval. The kid had found his thang. That was Charlie Jacobs.
Mo’ later on The Tangents, the saxophone, how Bobby Rush changed Charles’ life, and pictures (when i get my scanner happening). Y’all doin’ a beautiful thing over there……….keep on rockin’!
I will be glad to send y’all some Tangents’ music as well as Charlie’s last recordings from ’95-’96……and pictures, too. But right now i am trying to find one definitive Tangents’ cut to submit to the Oxford American for consideration in their music issue. I may have to make a Nashville trip to browse the tape collection of our last bass player. There are many, many sub-quality cassette tapes of the Tangents live but for now, i’m checking out some open-reel tapes from 1985-’86. Sorry to say, recording was not a high priority of ours but every now and then one of the old cassettes will jump out at yo
Let me pick up for a minute where I left off in the last e-mail……………….
It was 1981 before Fish Michie, Charlie & I decided to start a band together. Bob Barbee (Lula, Ms) was our drummer and that first year we kept it down to 4 pieces: Fish on piano, Bob on drums, Charlie on harp, sax & vocals, and myself on bass & vocals. To be perfectly frank with you, Charlie was still learning the sax and ’81 was a year of woodshedding and trying out different styles and songs. I was a guitar player, but we just weren’t ready to bust out with five pieces. Besides, we were making good money and havin’ a ball. Spring of ’82, we added Steve Morrison on bass, i switched over to guita,r and the Tangents became the Tangents.
We ventured down to Yazoo City, a town full of wild folks. They was ready for us, and we was ready for them. We all still have some great friends in Yazoo County from bonds formed in those years. The next step was Jackson, a place where we had a few close partners but a town full of Talent that was intimidating to us at first. Our very first gig (thanks to Malcolm White) was at the old Quarter Note out on Lakeland drive. It seemed like every hot musician in town came out to sit in and hang out. There was George Allen (of Greenville), the monster bass player formerly of Sassy Jones, Danny Lancaster (the Duck Hill Thrill, and one of the finest blues guitarists white or black anywhere), Ollie Nightingale (who Charlie & i had met a few years back in Memphis), and the cream of the Jackson musical crop. I’ll never forget Ollie was decked out in a 3-piece suit and was fairly new in the Jackson area himself. He was sitting at the table with my future wife, Debbie and me, waiting to be introduced to sing. Remember now, Charlie was still a little green on-stage and didn’t know how to properly introduce a proud man who carried himself like a ‘star’. Danny and George and Charlie were fronting the band. The time came to call Ollie up. Danny started into a variation of the old James Brown intro, ..”So now, Ladies & Gentlemen, it is star time! Are you ready for star time?!” (the crowd yells, “YEAH!”)
This ritualized introduction didn’t get much further before young Charles blurted out, “Alright, let’s get Ollie up here.” Our old friend looked at me coldly. “That’s a hell of an introduction”, he said. Then Ollie took the stage and gave a blazing performance, pulling out every trick in his vocal trick bag. He was really dynamite. And i’m not sure to this day if Charlie knew he had blown the intro or not. That first night in Jackson was easy. Our friends did most of the work, with someone different sitting in all night. Malcolm White then booked us into George St. Grocery a few weeks later, and the Tangents had found their new home. This was the club we were meant to play. George St is where the Tangents and Jackson began their love affair with each other, where we had time to rehearse in the daytime–and lay fresh tunes on ’em that night, and where Charlie Jacobs transformed himself into Charlie Love.
Another friend of Charlie Jacobs writes the following:
Charlie, Mike Gilbert, Ricky Rochelle, Greg Crowe, and myself were good friends in high school and a year or so after. When we were in the 11th grade, Charlie started carrying that damn harmonica in his pocket and playing it everywhere he went. I mean everywhere. We spent a lot of time together either in Cleveland (Mississippi) or in Scott, Mississippi, out at the river and did a lot of growing up together. A bunch of us used to get together in Rochelle’s apartment above his parents’ house and play music every weekend night, mostly covers but some of Ricky’s originals. We probably recorded a few cassettes, but I doubt any of them still exist. The last time I saw Charlie was in about 1981 when the Tangents were playing at a gig called ‘sky king crash’ i think over at Ruleville.
Very sad day when my mother sent me a news clipping about Charlie’s death.
By the way, it’s really strange that he would have married Mose Allison’s daughter because being the hyper, excitable guy that Charlie was, he always made this nervous gutteral noise that reminds me so much of the noise Mose Allison makes when he’s singing. Kind of an mh,mh,mh sound.
andy king ([email protected])
- 1958-Charlie Jacobs was born on February 5
- 1981-Charlie becomes member of the Tangents
- 1995-He last performed with The Tangents
- 1997-He died and was buried at the Clark Mound Cemetery in the Delta near Beulah, Mississippi
Timeline for The Tangents
- 1952 Duff Dorrough born in Mississippi Delta (Ruleville)
- 1958 Charlie Jacobs born in Cleveland, Mississippi
- 1975 Duff Dorrough moves back to Sunflower River east of Ruleville, Mississippi, from Nashville. Begins playing nightly with Jacobs at The Mattress Factory in Cleveland, MS., a little bar with pool tables, etc. with other Ruleville “renegades”
- 1976 Dorrough plays with the Casuals (Mike Dill, drums; John Evans, keyboards; David “Groovy” Parker, bass) at King’s Cafe on Highway 82 in Greenwood, MS. They become the Sausage and Biscuit Boys when owner refuses to put the Casuals on blinking sign, but advertises Sausage and Biscuits on sign instead.Duff Dorrough meets high school age, cigarette-smoking, guitar player Charlie Jacobs , who plays with them and “kills crowd with sheer energy, singing “She Caught the Katy” by Taj Mahal
- 1981 Fish Michie, piano; Duff Dorrough, bass and vocals; Charlie Love, harp, sax, vocals; , and Bob Barbee, drummer from Lula, Mississippi, start band together
- 1982 (spring) Band adds Steve Morrison on bass, Duff Dorrough now plays guitar, and The Tangents are born.Band moves to Yazoo City, then on to Jackson, Mississippi, where Tangents are booked to play at the old Quarter Note on Lakeland Drive by Malcolm White. Then Malcolm White books Tangents into George St. Grocery, which becomes “home.””
- 1989 Dorothy Moore traveled to Japan for a seven day tour. She took with her three other Mississippi musicians: Charlie “Love” Jacobs
(who was also from Jackson and member of The Tangents) on sax and harmonica, Jimmy Jarratt of Madison on keyboard, and Dan Harrison of Yazoo City on bass. Two Texans, Milton Harris (lead guitarist) and Johnny Munguis (drummer) also went with them.
- 1995 Charlie Jacobs’s last performance with the Tangents.
- 1997 (April) Charlie Jacobs dies and is buried at the Clark Mound Cemetery in the Delta near Beulah, Mississippi.
- “Bound to Cover Just A Little More Ground.” [online] Available
http://www.igc.org/deadheadsontour/Chlove.html, 7 April 2000
- Hood, Orley. “Charlie may be gone, but his sweet echo lingers here with us.” Clarion-Ledger 18
April 1997: 1B, 5B.
- Pettus, Gary. “Friends Celebrate musicians life at his funeral.” Clarion-Ledger 18 April 1997: 1B.