[Content Disclosure: No Poker, Some Music, Serendipity]
I was digging around in my bag o'discs and found an old one from David. While I drove around Mt. Shasta today, I heard Jerry Jeff Walker make a reference in a live concert track to "being inspired to write this song, in the First Precinct jail." Hence this story:
After being arrested Fourth of July weekend 1965 in New Orleans for drunkenness, Jerry Jeff Walker found himself sharing a holding cell with dozens of street people, who had been rounded up in conjunction with a murder investigation. "Round up the usual suspects (and all the homeless)."
Among those those into the First Precinct cells was a street performer who used the alias of "Mr. Bojangles" clearly after the great negro performer Bill Robinson. As Walker tells it, the man told story after story but the mood darkened after he told about his dog being run over. To bring the mood (in the cell), someone suggested a tap dance and Mr. Bojangles obliged.
Walker always makes the point that the object of his song is not Bill Robinson but indeed this street performer, who Walker notes was white. Had to be, even the jails in New Orleans were segregated in 1965.
I wander around the InnerTube a bit to find some covers of Mr. Bojangles:
Sammy Davis Jr. (for Bea)