Precious Moment with Junior Wells
by Gloria Pierce
Junior Wells loved dogs. Jasmine, a cockapoo-sheltie-poodle mix, loved to sing the blues to the sound of the blues harp. My husband, at the time, was a tremendous blues harp player and vocalist. Blues played constantly in our house and sometimes he would practice things on harp. We had 2 dogs, Baklava and her daughter Jasmine. Jasmine became infatuated wtih the sound of the harmonica. Whether it was one of us picking up the harp or eventually the sound from the speakers, Jasmine was right there ready to "howl" the blues. She got so into it that all it took was the hands to the mouth, it didn't matter if there was a harmonica there or not.

While we lived for awhile in Champaign, Illinois (about 150 miles south of Chicago), Junior and his band were playing in town. It was 1974. We had already known Junior from Chicago where they used to trade licks frequentlyy in clubs like Theresa's. We went to see them and invited Junior and the band for BBQ the next day. Everyone knew that some jamin' would occur, but Junior never expected the trio to include Jasmine. Junior flipped over her and was even more amazed that she was 'howlin' on key and enjoying it so much.

A year or so later, back in Chicago, Junior had me bring Jasmine to Theresa's (the famous basement club on the corner of 48th and Indiana on Chicago's south side). Junior called T's his 2nd home. He had me bring Jasmine up to the stage and "howl" along with him. What a performance! Where were the amazing dog stories or videos then?

I had forgotten all about this until just about a year ago. I was having a long telephone conversation with Junior over past memories and past friendships we both shared and both lost, when he mentioned my singing dog. I truly didn't remember her "professional debut" at T's. His memory of it was so vivid; we both laughed and laughed. I wonder now why we didn't market this, but then in 1975, things were very different and very casual.


Jasmine went on to live with my soon to be ex-husband and finish out her days in Northern California. My ex-husband is now remarried and heading up a San Francisco area jazz band, playing saxophone, having left the blues behind. Junior is now fighting an ugly battle for his life. I'm in South Florida still immersed and dabbling in the music I love the best - BLUES. Everything changes and everything passes.

gloria pierce


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