How We Helped:Music Maker Relief Foundation has assisted Drink Small with a monthly stipend for prescription medicine and bill payments, and has provided him with guitars. Music Maker also produced a record for Drink and has helped him book gigs throughout the United States, including performances at the Apollo Theater and the Montreal Jazz Fest. Drink is featured in the book Music Makers: Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America (2004).
More about Drink Small:
They call me the blues Doctor ‘cause I can play all the styles, bottleneck, ragtime, Piedmont Blues I can tear them up, Chicago Blues; I am the blues Doctor.
Rich people got the blues because they are trying to keep the money, the poor people are trying to get the money and I ain’t got no money.
Jesus had the blues. He had them because he didn’t want the devil to get all of the souls. He turned the rocks to souls, so the devil wouldn’t get them all. You know he turned the water into wine, I guess he did get drunk. Three quarters of the world is water. I’m glad he didn’t turn all of the water into wine or we would be in trouble.
I was born in 1933 in Lee County in Bishopville, South Carolina. I started playing when I was 11 years old. We had an old pump organ; I started playing Coon Shine Baby on that. Then I started on the one string guitar; I played Bottle, Up and Go. My uncle had a guitar around and I fooled around on that. I made my own little guitar, for strings I cut up an old inner tube.
When I was in high school I organized a group called the 6 stars. I was ashamed to sing, I was playing instrumental songs like Blind Boy Fuller stuff. I played piano in the church. Then I began to start singing. I came up playing both blues and gospel. On Friday and Saturday night I would make five dollars a night playing at house parties. That was more than a man plowing a mule all week was getting was.
I then went to school to be a barber but I did not want to cut no hair I wanted to cut up.
I became a great guitar player. I joined the Spiritualaires. We recorded on the Vee Jay label. We played the Apollo and toured with Sam Cooke, the Harmonizing Four, and the Staple Singers. We were out there with all the big groups.
When we broke up I came back to Columbia, South Carolina and I started to play for the college kids and they went wild. I recorded a song, “I Love You Alberta” and “Cold, Cold, Rain” on the Sharp label a subsidiary of Savoy. Tarhill Slim was on that label. Since that time I have been to Europe, played at Wolf Trap and toured around the country.
– Drink Small