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Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler

DigiTrad:
EVERYBODY WORKS AT MY HOUSE BUT MY OLD MAN
SAN FRANCISCO BAY BLUES


Related threads:
Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths (32)
Help: Jesse Fuller's Washboard Contraption (9)
who has made a fotdella? (21)
Happy Birthday Jesse Fuller (12)


Billy the Bus 30 Mar 00 - 03:45 AM
Easy Rider 30 Mar 00 - 09:14 AM
katlaughing 30 Mar 00 - 11:08 AM
dick greenhaus 30 Mar 00 - 12:15 PM
Roger in Baltimore 30 Mar 00 - 12:33 PM
Abby Sale 30 Mar 00 - 04:27 PM
Rick Fielding 30 Mar 00 - 05:01 PM
Billy the Bus 30 Mar 00 - 08:03 PM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 31 Mar 00 - 03:10 AM
Easy Rider 22 Sep 00 - 03:32 PM
karen k 22 Sep 00 - 06:37 PM
GUEST,JoanieChicago 14 Dec 08 - 09:52 PM
Mary Katherine 15 Dec 08 - 01:39 AM
GUEST,Graham Bradshaw 15 Dec 08 - 05:19 AM
john f weldon 15 Dec 08 - 07:55 AM
Mark Ross 15 Dec 08 - 10:17 AM
Duke 16 Dec 08 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,Jim 16 Dec 08 - 12:22 PM
DHonemanband 06 Oct 09 - 01:48 AM
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Subject: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: Billy the Bus
Date: 30 Mar 00 - 03:45 AM

Gidday,

Havin' jest bleestered me fingas on a T-chest (see Gutbucket thread) I jest hafta ask you old fart Yankees.

Jesse Fuller's "Foot-doodler" - the bass instrument for the 1-man band on the original(?) on "SF Bay Blues".

I've seen a couple of descriptions which go along the lines of "a tea chest with pedals, that he played with his feet".

C'mon - Mudcat can do better than that!

1. Who among you saw Jesse perform live?

2. Can you describe the "Footdoodler"?

That man must've been magic!

Cheers - Sam


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: Easy Rider
Date: 30 Mar 00 - 09:14 AM

I've seen a video of him performing, and I have some CDs. The "Foot-doodler" was a double bass, modified so that it stood up on its own and so that the strings could be struck by hammers, activated by foot pedals. He played a twelve string guitar, a harmonica in a neck harness, the footdooler, with one foot, and a top hat cymbal with the other foot. It all sounded pretty good too!


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Mar 00 - 11:08 AM

I went looking for info last night and found an article by Mudcatter, Mike Billo, here. He relates a story about a time he and a friend saw Jesse Fuller perform and how they helped Fuller get paid, by a reluctant club owner, for his performance. Well worht the read and I have his permission to post this link here.

The link in his story is out of date for jugbands, so here are the ones he just sent to me by mesage:

The URL's for jugbands were either
http://nj5.injersey.com/~jugband/ for the Jug Band Rag, or
http://www.jugband.org/jugstore/ for the Jug Store.

When I went to Yahoo and typed in Jesse Fuller, I also saw several videos and cd's offered of his works. I am sure the Mudcat Shop or Dick Greenhaus of the DT and owner of Camsco Music could get the cd's for you, if you are interested.

All the best,

kat


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 30 Mar 00 - 12:15 PM

In stock at Camsco.


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 30 Mar 00 - 12:33 PM

Billy the Bus,

I was graced with the opportunity to see Jesse just one time live. It was magic. Easy rider missed noting that he had a kazoo strapped next to the harmonica on his harp rack. Just another thang. I've usually seen his bass instrument listed as a Fot-della, but what do I know.

The foot pedals were just the same as you use for a bass drum. From the brief little bit I saw of it, it was a wooden chest and I saw no remnants of a double-bass. It was strung with piano wire as I recall (we are talking 1967 or so).

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: Abby Sale
Date: 30 Mar 00 - 04:27 PM

So far, pretty much everybody is right. I'm looking at a picture of it on the Good Time Jazz LP. It could easily be mistaken not being an upright bass. (What do you get when you throw a bass fiddle down an open mine shaft? A flat miner.) The good notes are by CH Garrigues, Jazz Editor of the San Fran Examiner.

"When he was 55 [1951 -ajs], he made the instrument which has come to be his trademark -- the big six-string bass viol which he plays with his foot through a system of pedals and levers. 'I got hearin' about fellers who were makin' lots of money on records. I tried to get some fellers to play with me but they were always busy -- drinkin' wine and gamblin'. So I said "I'm goin' to make me a one man band" and I did. My wife she call it a fotdella -- that's like "foot diller" cause I play it with my foot. And that's it's name'"

The neck begins at the top of the body and appears to extend about two feet above the body. It is cut square. It's a piano type of contraption and I think actual piano hammers to strike the strings. He also carries & plays 12-string guitar, harmonica, kazoo, cymbals (left foot) and sings.

The crude stand for the fotdella and the large carry-handle rivoted to the side takes away from it's viol appearance and makes it look somewhat like a piece of luggage in a Marx Brothers movie.

The man was a powerful bluesist. One of the greats.

I'm glad to learn of Billo's courage in speaking out & getting Jesse paid. Like many - or most - of the old bluesmen, Jesse was accustomed to being screwed out of his pay. I'm told (but wouldn't insist) that he never received a penny of royalties for "San Francisco Bay Blues."


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 30 Mar 00 - 05:01 PM

Thanks Abby. Yah, I heard from a source that he came up empty handed money wise for San Francisco Bay as well. I'm told that Dylan made sure he got payed for "She's No Good". He used to play slide with a big beer bottle!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: Billy the Bus
Date: 30 Mar 00 - 08:03 PM

Hi Team,

Many thanks - just knew y'all would come up with the goods. Fuller must have been a real sight to see - arms, legs and mouth in all directions keeping all those instruments going + singing....;)

Love his music.

Many thanks for the links, kat - alas the videos are no use to me - don't even run to a TV set.

Cheers - Sam


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 31 Mar 00 - 03:10 AM

There's a picture of it (the "fotdella") on a couple of his CDs. As he was an engineer most of his life he made his own hi-hat cymbal stand and his stool and harmonica rack, his mike & amp rig as well. On one track I have he tap dances as well while playing!
RtS (who struggles to play even the kazoo part of SF Blues!)


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: Easy Rider
Date: 22 Sep 00 - 03:32 PM

I reived this thread because I'm looking for TAB/Music for Jessie Fuller's song, "The Monkey and the Engineer".

Does anybody have it or a source for it?

Thanx, EZR


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: karen k
Date: 22 Sep 00 - 06:37 PM

EZ,
Hi! I don't have the music but if you want to send me a tape I'll sing it for you. I learned it in 1967 from Jesse when he was staying at my house and playing for several nights at a coffeehouse which I helped to run. He had his fotdella set up in my living room and it practically took up the whole room! He was one of the most wonderful people I have ever known.

Let me know via personal message if you'd like me to tape it for you and I'll send you my address.
karen


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: GUEST,JoanieChicago
Date: 14 Dec 08 - 09:52 PM

I met Jesse in Berkeley in 1959 -- he used to come to a music shop where we used to hang out -- He would play his "FootDella" He told us that the name was because he played it with his foot and Della was named for his wife.

I read other comments that he said that his wife named it "foot-dilla" to be like "killer diller"   I don't recall his ever saying that but it's 50 years and memories get distorted!

But that's what I recall


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: Mary Katherine
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 01:39 AM

For those who'd like to know:

Jesse's original fotdella was donated to the Smithsonian Institution's musical instrument collection. Although it is not on permanent display (for lack of room), it *is* available to be seen if you call in advance.
Jesse's only wife's name was Gertrude, so I'm afraid that other story isn't accurate.
Although there may have been a time when Jesse was not paid for "San Francisco Bay Blues," he (and later his widow Gertrude, and since her death their children) *do* now get paid full royalties for the song (as well as all his other original compositions), and have done so for many decades.
Finally, someone recently wrote an illustrated book of "The Monkey & The Engineer" for children, and I think (but check on amazon or wherever you're ordering it from first to be sure) that the book includes the music, as well as the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: GUEST,Graham Bradshaw
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:19 AM

Just seen this thread. I was very honoured to see Jesse perform.
He played at Surbiton Assembly Rooms in about 1970, at what was reputed to be his last ever gig, before returning to the States and retirement. This may be anecdotal, but that is what was said at the time.
He was brilliant and so charismatic.
In the audience all the great and the good of the time. Most of the Stones, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Donovan (who bought me a drink!! - not sure why). And that's just the ones I can remember.
Last chance to see the great man, I suppose.

An occasion to tell the grand-kids. That club was brilliant. Also saw Rev Gary Davis and Sonny Terry & Brownie Mcgee there as well.

Graham


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: john f weldon
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:55 AM

I saw him perform. According to my memory, every piece of the fotdella seemed very idiosyncratic and hand-made. The pedals were similar to (but much smaller than) the ones on a church organ, and he removed a shoe to play. He whacked them with just his big toe. The strings were piano stings, and the hammers looked like over-sized piano hammers.

A friend, who was a drummer, was listening to Jesse on a record, and commented "That group has a great rhythm section." When I pointed out it was all one guy, he almost fell over.


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: Mark Ross
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 10:17 AM

When I lived in Berserkley '70 & '71, I had occassion to go down to Oakland to Jesse's house and had the privilege of sitting with him and watching him play tunes in the basement. The fotdella he had at the time was not the cut down bass, it was a box that he'd built with bass strings and pedals. He had to take off his shoe to play it bacause the pedals were a little too close together to play when he was shod. Unfortunately, the guitar he was playing at the time wasn't the 12 string he was pictured with, it was a cheap electric.
Does anyone know what that old guitar was, and what happened to it?

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: Duke
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 10:26 AM

Jesse played the Village Corner Club in Toronto back in the sixties. I was living above the club and working there at the time. He was a fantastic person to meet. His instruments were electric and a friend of mine was allowed to try them out. He got hooked up and threw the switch and according to him, "damned near sizzled me from head to toe". I must admit that I laughed my head off at that. Jesse also would sometimes get up and do a soft shoe while playing his music. From our point of view, he was an interesting man to talk to. God only knows what he thought of us kids.


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 12:22 PM

Have a look at this youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKumuirtwbo


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Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler
From: DHonemanband
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 01:48 AM

Hey folks, looks like quite a few have good memories or stories of meeting / seeing Jesse. I'm writing a book on one man bands. Maybe you'd like to share a story with the world? My email is slimchance@shaw.ca Send them in! Pictures great too but must have photo credit and permission to use.


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