“Johnny Cash, he’s scared of me,” Paul “Wine” Jones said to me in one of the most endearing moments of my blues fandom, which came circa spring, 2002. “I played with him once, and I scared him.”
At the time, standing in a pink satin suit on the floor of the House of Blues in Cambridge, Mass., Wine looked like a fish out of water, but perfectly comfortable in his own skin. Fat Possum had sent artists T-Model Ford, Wine, and one of their other label-mates–can’t remember which, and I can’t Google it for the life of me–to do a gig in Harvard’s backyard, and the crowd of upscale-yuppie suits, yuppies-to-be Cambridge students, and old-guard east-coast liberals didn’t really know what to make of the Fat Possum style of blues.
And the Fat Possum guys were so insular, they didn’t take offense at the lack of comprehension and appreciation of their art.
I was there with a couple other writers and blues nuts, and we bought Wine a couple adult beverages, and chatted with him between sets as T-Model did his thing on stage. It was a surreal night, but we were so glad they took the time and effort to come up to our neck of the woods and play their Hill Country noise for us. Wine played his “hit” at the time, “Pucker Up Buttercup,” from his CD of the same name at least twice, but we didn’t mind.
No, we couldn’t ever get him to elaborate on what about him scared The Man in Black, who’s seen a lot of scary things in his live and didn’t think twice about them.