I previously scripted weekly radio "shorts" for the House of Blues Radio Hour, hosted by Dan Aykroyd in the voice of his alter ego, Elwood Blues. Each short highlighted a timely event—a birthday, an album release, a death anniversary—by giving context and spinning a related song. I researched dates, suggested topics, and then composed two to four shorts each week.
This was a great crash course in writing for voice and tone. The only official style directive I got was Elwood never uses contractions. The rest was up to me. So I did my homework, listening to hours of House of Blues Radio and watching The Blues Brothers over and over. Tough gig. A sample:
Champion Jack Dupree knew how to use his hands. He used them to become a boxing champion and one of the best boogie piano players of all time. His hands helped create rock and roll. Today we celebrate the birth of Champion Jack Dupree, right after we give a hand to our sponsors.
Champion Jack Dupree’s actual birth date is disputed, owing to a rough start in life. Jack’s parents died in a fire when Jack was just a baby, landing him in the New Orleans’ Colored Waifs Home for Boys—the same orphanage that sheltered Louis Armstrong. A priest at the orphanage introduced Jack to the piano, and Jack perfected his barrelhouse boogie piano style in the saloons and brothels of the Crescent City. When he was old enough, Jack Dupree hit the road, eventually settling in the midwest and picking up a pair of boxing gloves. He earned himself the nickname “Champion” by winning boxing bouts throughout Detroit, Indianapolis, and Chicago. He also earned a reputation as a master of boogie piano, supplementing his boxing income with blues gigs.
Champion Jack made a few recordings in Chicago before getting drafted to serve during World War II. After the war, Jack went straight back to the piano and recorded and performed for the rest of his life, until his death in 1992. His work was influential from the start. One of Jack’s early prewar recordings, a version of “Junker’s Blues,” was the base for Fats Domino’s later crossover sensation “The Fat Man,” a song many consider one of rock and roll’s first hits. Here is Champion Jack Dupree with his “Junker’s Blues.”
[“Junker's Blues” – Champion Jack Dupree/New Orleans Barrelhouse Boogie/Sony]
Champion Jack Dupree with “Junker’s Blues.” We are giving Champion Jack a hand in celebration of his birthday. I am Elwood, and my website is loaded all the time… with the blues. Check it out at the Blues Mobile dot com.