t the corner of Williamson and Main Streets in Milan, Tennessee, about two blocks away from the house I grew up in, is a store called Elliott's Music Center, where I used to buy records when I was a kid. When I visited my mom last year, there was an antique giant replica of a Hohner Marine Band harmonica
hanging in the window, and I went in and asked Oteen, the guy who runs the place, if he would sell it. What do you think it's worth, he said, a thousand dollars? I laughed and said it might be, if he could find the right buyer. I offered him a couple of hundred for it and he let me have it. Oteen was singing and playing guitar in the back of the store with a bunch of old boys, Chester and Harold and some others, and I mean old, in their sixties and seventies, and I sat in and added some bluegrass and country harmonica. They were good players, and it was a kick gabbing about music with these vintage, garrulous Tennessee cats who are about the same age asand when they talk sound just likeElvis or Jerry Lee Lewis. Or Carl Perkins, who used to live near my Uncle Jimmy over in a suburb of Jackson called Bemis. In fact, Uncle Jimmy's son, my cousin Jim Mike, used to play drums in a band with Carl Perkins' son. I became a musician years after I left Tennessee, and connecting with that aspect of my hometown as an adult, even for just one afternoon, was very groovy. As I was leaving Chester said, Now you go back to California and tell them that you played with a bunch of hicks.
y the way, Charlie McCoy apparently had one of these jumbo Marine Bands and used it on a couple of album covers.