Writing Question

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Story telling is one way that a culture keeps alive their history and values. This extra credit involves the Blues and storytelling. A Blues song is a socially relatable tale of sadness, joy, commiseration, celebration, and life (2018 Jered Morin | Swing, Blues, Jazz | Dance & Music-website). Many of these story tellers told their stories (or sang the blues) in Juke joints. A juke joint is a place where people (primarily African Americans) gathered to celebrate life, reflect on their problems, eat, drink, gamble, and dance.

In the West Baton Rouge museum, there is a replication of a juke joint. The museum describes a Juke Joint as the following:

Juke Joint. Juke joints have a history that is deeply rooted in small towns throughout the south. West Baton Rouge was famous for the juke joints that provided relief to the workers coming in from the sugarcane fields and long hard days of work on the Mississippi River.www.wbrparish.org

Here are some pictures from the Juke Joint of Silas Hogan:

  • Juke joints have a history deeply rooted in small towns throughout the south. West Baton Rouge was famous for its juke joints that provided relief for workers coming in from the sugar cane fields and long hard days of work on the Mississippi River. Music was heard playing all night through open windows across the cane fields. (Source: Juke Joint Men, Kathe Hambrick, JK Lawson, 2019.)
  • This building was an army surplus building repurposed as the Boy Scout Hut for Troop 38 in Port Allen. In 2017, the building was donated to WBR Museum and turned into an interpretative exhibit, performance venue, and education space. Some of the local Blues musicians featured in this juke joint are Slim Harpo, Silas Hogan, Lazy Lester, Raful Neal, Sr., and the Neal family. The Neal Family donated the upright piano, the jukebox, guitars, and other memorabilia exhibited in this building. Other works of art displayed are metal sculptures of dancers and musicians by local artist Ronald Trahan. (Source: Juke Joint Men, Kathe Hambrick, JK Lawson, 2019.)

There is video of the Juke Joint at the West Baton Rouge museum at the bottom of the assignment . (It is footage of the inside of the building). If you would like to see the actual replica of the Juke Joint (though it is not necessary to complete the assignment), you can go to the West Baton Rouge museum (bring your id —– student admission is $2.09). You must wear a mask or face covering.

Listen to the Silas Hogan song “Roaches and Rats in my Kitchen.”

Answer the following questions to turn in:

A. Cultural stories allow us to reexamine our past, our traditions, our hardships, and our triumphs. Explain how Silas Hogan does this in the song you selected. Offer specific examples.

B. According to Dr. Butcher in your textbook, “the stories we share tend to reveal our personal beliefs and values.” By listening to the stories (in this case – the blues), the audience can see things from the author’s perspective and, in turn, may share in the experiences by identifying in some way with the stories that are told (through song). In what ways could you identify with the story reflected in the song?

C. In their book, Communication in Everyday Life, Duck and McMahan state that cultural membership is enacted through communication. Why do you think the Juke Joint was so important to helping maintain and reinforce cultural membership during this time? How do you show cultural membership today? (sporting events, church, festivals, weddings, etc.)

D. Discuss any other insight from this assignment.

****If you are curious about Silas Hogan, please watch him at the 12-minute mark of this documentary. He discusses the song “Roaches and Rats in my kitchen.”


Video of the Juke Joint:

 IMG_1264 (3).MOVJanuary 8 2021, 3:00 PM
 lyrics roaches and rats in my kitchen.jpgFebruary 16 2021, 6:13 PM

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