It wasn't enough I had the pleasure of wearing out the grooves on two copies of "So Long Dixie" on the 1972 Blood, Sweat & Tears album "New Blood" which featured their new lead singer Jerry Fisher. Nor that I became a solid BST fan over the 3 fabulous albums during "The Fisher era". No, but what was enough was when that tall, lanky, ever smiling sandy haired Oklahoman came lumbering into my office in that small town (Bay St. Louis, Mississippi) radio station back in 1976, and introduced himself. Wow, I really didn't know whether to believe it was him or not. Turns out it was, though, and he wasn't just passing through; he had bought a home there, with his new wife, Melva, and a little restaurant and night club where they planned to live out their life's dream. And what a dream it has been. From that opening night nearly 30 years ago, "The Dock-of-the-Bay" has been a smashing success on that Gulf Coast tourist paradise that stretches 26 miles from Bay St. Louis through Biloxi, Gulfport, Ocean Springs and a half-dozen other little Mississippi towns. "The Dock" has been a success, not only because of the superlative entertainment of Jerry Fisher and that hand picked crew of incredible musicians he fondly calls, "The Music Company", nor any of the countless well known artists who just happened to drop by on any given night to jam with Jerry and the guys ---- no, Jerry Fisher has said that they owe much of "The Dock's" success to Melva's Gumbo, and a host of other family recipes that have given this restaurant national attention. Combine that with the friendly atmosphere you always, ALWAYS find at The Dock-of-the-Bay, and success can't be far away. Is Jerry Fisher my all time favorite blues singer? YOU BET! But "Fish" is more than just a blues singer. He and the band can take you through a musical set, gliding from blues to rock, and from country to soul without missing a note, a beat, a sigh or a twitch.
I used to travel to the Coast at least once a year, just for a great meal, and a wonderful evening of entertainment. A few years ago, however, Jerry decided to shut down the nightclub and these days they just relax and run the restaurant, which is still crowded most every night, and weekend days. Great atmosphere, outstanding service and incredible food still prevail, but, Ohhh how I strain to hear echoes from the past, and perhaps just a note or two of "Rock Me Away, Rock Me In Your Cradle....."
Thanks Fish, here's my standing ovation!