Historical Note: "Play That Thing"

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Archivist Note: Here is a collection of one of the most famous of Jazz phrases, "Play That Thing," Uttered during the playing of the standard "Dippermouth Blues," aka "Sugar Foot Stomp," and it's roots in Traditional Jazz history. It can in fact be traced to a small Mid-Western phonograph recording studio in Richmond, Indiana run my the Gennett family.

The Story Behind The Legend

As a side note, the Gennett recording of "Dippermouth Blues" inspired one of the venerable expressions in jazz when Baby Dodds, alcohol breath and all, forgot a very brief solo part planned for Him. Reacting to the lapse, banjoist Bill Johnson screamed "Play that thing!" and the rest is history. "The technician [most likely Ezra Wickemeyer] asked us if that was supposed to be there and we said no," Dodds recalled. "However, he wanted to keep it anyway, and, ever since Then, every outfit uses that same trick, all because I forgot my part."

From "Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy," Page 66
by Rick Kennedy
Indiana University Press, 1994
Bloomington & Indianapolis

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Selected "Play That Thing" Sound Bytes

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