“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got up again.”
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
“No problem, he will be here.”
PEOPLE WHO MAKE THINGS BETTER
There are situations that spring up and test us. Everyone looks around for a way out of the mess. Sometimes the monstrous obstacle that is thrown in our path isn’t as big as we think it is, and we just needed someone to bring the problem into perspective. Willie Jones, the manager of the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, often is that someone.
A week or so ago a pretty full house was settling in to see one of Detroit’s legendary jazz-men, George “Sax” Benson. As showtime was approaching, George was missing. The piano player didn’t know where he was, the drummer said he was coming on his own and the bass player said oh…oh…. this is unlike George. All eyes turned to Willie. Willie will certainly handle this. Everything will be all right. The lights dimmed which is the signal to us that the musicians are on their way to the bandstand. Happy clinks of knives and forks on porcelain mixed with laughter as the celebrants waited for the music to start. No one including Willie knew where George was or if he would be there.
I watched in semi-panic as events unfolded. I looked at Willie who looked as calm as our old cat lying in front of the fireplace. He reminded me of those other kids that had really studied before a test. Nonplussed, unshaken, his attitude was calming and reassuring.
Whew, no problem, things will be alright, and they were. It turns out that George got waylaid in traffic and did arrive late. Willie had the piano trio go on until George arrived, and then George played an extra 30 minutes making this a great night for those who came to hear this master of the music. George’s unbridled joy in playing to an appreciative and understanding audience was on full display.
Willie’s lesson for all of us is that old saying “Opportunity seldom rises with blood pressure.”
HERE ARE SOME EXCERPTS FROM AN OLD BLOG THAT MIGHT EXPLAIN WILLIE
Willie Jones, the Dirty Dog manager, has a mission. Keep every thing in the best place for that thing. As Willie roams the Dirty Dog Jazz Café his eyes keep moving. He moves a napkin, he nudges a chair with his foot, he grabs a tray table and places it, just in time, under a heavily laden tray coming from the kitchen and then helps a patron that needs assistance. At the Dirty Dog things get into the right place at the right time, because Willie’s way is an example emulated by the staff. It is more than magic that assures that everyone and every thing is in place before it is needed.
I have had a chance to watch this process in my role of documenting the artists playing there with my camera. In an intimate room l I have watched this done with a civility that is part of the culture in the Dog. There are more laughs than groans from the staff. They have been Willied. In addition to the sense of order that Willie Jones brings to his tasks is his ability to place the right person in the right place at crucial times. Smiles are allowed, mistakes are corrected, and the results are apparent, as Willie in his role as Director of Food, Beverage and all that Jazz says, ” WELCOME TO THE DIRTY DOG”.
THIS WEEK AT THE DIRTY DOG WILLIE WILL BE ASKING US TO WELCOME KIMMIE HORNE
Kimmie Horne returns to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café this Wednesday through Saturday. Kimmie has a very large following in Detroit because she exemplifies the drive and energy that has always been part of Detroit jazz. Kimmie also has the voice to always make her sets seem too short.
FOR UPCOMING SHOWS GO TO: http://: dirtydogjazz.com