Ryan’s Blues Glossary

Back Door Man
A clandestine lover who must sneak out the back door as the as the husband/wife comes in the front door.
Balling the Jack
A railroad work term that quickly became a metaphor for lovemaking. It was also the name of a popular dance step in the 1940’s.
A common nightclub (see juke joint). Probably named after barrels of beer needed to fuel proceedings.
Beale Street
A Blues hotspot in Memphis, Tennessee. The area has been revived and is once again a thriving party scene.
Black Cat Bone
A mystical charm that is actually a bone from a black cat that has been ritually processed. Carried for good luck.
Musical form that came from rural African-American experience. Using flatted and bending notes in the common music scale, an ultra-emotional sound developed.
Boll Weevil
An insect that eats cotton. This pest was responsible for crop failures that plagued the South.
A Blues style most associated with the piano. From the ragtime and stride piano traditions of New Orleans and Kansas City, it evolved into a very Texas musical form.
Bourbon Street
Traditional party street in New Orleans, Louisiana. Famed for music and decadence.
Canned Heat
Sterno, a jellied alcohol that could heat your food or get you very drunk.
The big boss. The plantation owner or prison guard.
C.C. Rider
A prostitute’s boyfriend or anyone who gets a free ride in exchange for sex.
Chicken Shack
A food establishment where a party could also be found.
A clandestine lover who sneaks around town. The Midnight Creeper.
Fertile flat land in western Mississippi that was the heart of the slavery and cotton eras.
An insult game usually about your mother.
Dust My Broom
Break up with a lover. Start an new life by cleaning out the old.
Eagle Rock
Popular dance from the 1920’s
Flag a Ride
Hitchhike or jump a passing freight train.
Gandy Dancers
Railroad workers who straightened track to a call and response work song.
A magical spell or voodoo technique.

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