We’re kicking off Giving Tuesday early this year! Your donation today will be matched up to $10K, doubling your impact! If you donate $50 today, the Reader will receive $100.

The Reader is now a community-funded nonprofit newsroom. Can we count on your support to help keep us publishing?

I’ve always preferred the blues community on the south side, both as a musician and as a spectator. It’s just more down-home and more accepting of eccentric types. Some of my best nights onstage happened here back in the early 90s. My college buddy Jay and I were the white bookend guitar players for Johnny Drummer & the Starlighters. On a typical night here you’d see an array of characters, from a drummer named Top Hat–who always wore a top hat which stunk to high heaven, but nobody would tell him–to Gaylord the Arkansas Belly Roller, a very portly, well-dressed gentleman who would walk around and try to brush up against every woman in the place while he sang–hence the nickname. Another character was our bass player at the time, T.J. the King Kong Rocker–he could turn anything into a sexual innuendo. And we’d always end up with Leroy the Junkyard Dog onstage, a one-legged crooner who liked to play for drinks–that was his big score. This just scratches the surface. Where else are you going to run into guitar players named Grown Man, Super Percy, and even the Black Lone Ranger, who wore the entire getup, mask and all, to sing the blues?

–Mike Pappas, musician