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Milwaukee Slim was always hustling around town in his van with his name and the phrase "recording artist" prominently painted on the side. That is he was riding around in that van when he wasn't driving the big MTC bus that was his day job. Known as the "Singing Bus Driver" Slim would often pop in to sit in for a few numbers or M.C. or hang out before hurrying away. Was he really on break from driving the bus when he stopped in or was he just hittin', gittin' and splittin' and on his way to the next place to sing a few, promote a show or glad hand with the crowd? My guess is that it was sometimes one, sometimes the other and sometimes both!

I played a bunch of shows with Slim both before and after I returned from Chicago but The Butanes didn't work often with him. He was welcome to sit in with us anytime and we saw him on a regular basis until he put together a regular band - the Kingsnakes - to back him. The most memorable shows we did with Slim were our very first advertised performances as The Butanes when we did a set on our own then backed Percy Strother, Big Walter Smith and Milwaukee Slim each for a set at Wilebski's on September 2 & 3, 1983. Slim takes the brunt of the joke in this recounting of Friday's gig but he really was a well-like individual and we were always happy to be around him.

Slim would often give bands a great old-time M.C. introduction to start off the show and when he was at the Cabooze he often referred to the place as the "House of Happiness". Artist John Hanson did most (if not all) of the Cabooze posters and riffed on that phrase for this jam session that was one of the featured acts on the first poster to mention The Butanes Soul Revue. Milwaukee Slim always seemed to be around when we were doing something new!

Milwaukee Slim (Angelo Chambers) died June 7, 1993 a few weeks shy of his 69th birthday. A CD titled Lemmon Avenue collecting many of his recordings was released in 1995 and contains Cleo and Mean And Evil Woman (with overdubbed horns not found on the original 45) and is available on iTunes.

 

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