It’s been just three months since Dom Flemons was at Tampa’s Straz Center for the Performing Arts, but the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops co-founder is already on his way back for a March 2 gig at St. Petersburg’s James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art. The 36-year-old songster (who also appears at Bananas Records the next day) will have some company, too.
“I’m gonna be bringing Big Head Joe with me, I believe, because I’ll be driving down. Unfortunately he can’t fly. He’s afraid of the air traffic, but Big Head Joe is still kicking about with me a whole bunch,” Flemons told CL. Big Head Joe can’t exactly talk to Flemons, but the fifth-generation Arizonan knows a lot about his travel companion, which is actually a banjo that dates back to the days of an early 20th century musicians’ hangout.
“I just found out who the maker of Big Head Joe was. He was a fella that did work for the Clef Club in Harlem with James Reese Europe,” Flemons said. “This fellow who made Big Head Joe, his name was Robert McGinnis. He patented the Clef Club brand, and then he moved to Philadelphia where he was part of the Philadelphia jazz and ragtime community after James Reese Europe died in 1919.”