Sunday, March 15, 2009

Porky would be pleased

The late trombonist Porky Cohen, whose career ranged from section work in the big bands of Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnet, Tony Pastor, Artie Shaw and others starting in the 1940s to his higher-profile work in Roomful of Blues from 1979 to 1988, once told me a wonderful story about one particular bus ride with Roomful.

They were on a tour of one-nighters through the southwest… and the bus brought them through the little town of Vernon, Texas. As they passed the “entering Vernon, Texas” road sign, Porky got excited. He’s reached the birthplace of Jack Teagarden, and the hometown of the Teagarden clan. He was in trombone heaven.

The little bus pulled over at a convenience store. Porky went in and exclaimed to the young clerk. “I can’t believe I’m finally in Vernon, Texas, the hometown of Jack Teagarden.” To which the young clerk responded: “Who’s Jack Teagarden?”

Porky would be pleased that Teagarden may finally be getting a hometown salute. The Fort Worth Business Press reported this month that the town is considering creating a museum dedicated to its musical native son.

It seems late Teagarden memorabilia and recordings collector Joe Showler wanted to move to Vernon from Canada and turn his collection into a museum. After his death the town has started a $175,000 fund-raising campaign to finance moving the archive from Toronto to Vernon and establish a museum in honor of the jazz great.

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