'Brother Billy Bronto's Bygone Blues Band' Editor's note: Brother Billy's dinosaur band is en route to a booking when its train meets with a mishap in the bayou

Story Time

March 18, 1998|By David Birchman

Deep dark down - I mean,

deep deep dark down in the bayou -

where the bones of the band in a jumble lie,

there rests the blues in a pool of ooze

with the ghosts of the bygone-bye.

Long ago when it was wondrous warm

and steamy swamps spread all across this land,

you could feel the heat off Basin Street

from Billy Bronto's Band.

Man, the place was a kitchen!

And that kitchen was hot cause the band was cookin'!

There was Rex the King Tyrone on the slide trombone

and Brother Billy on the bass.

There was a mean allosaurus saxophonist

nicknamed Lizard Lips Grace.

An iguanodon with some dark shades on

tickled the teeth of a rumply keyboard

while a lonely clarinet blew a wild set

'round a too-cool-hot-blues chord.

And there were roars, there were wails

to the beat of our feet

and the pounding of our thunder-beast tails.

'Course the heart of the band was the man.

Brother Billy. Brother Billy Bronto.

Thumping down on the big bass

with the rings on his claws all flashing bright -

They was dazzzlin'! -

Billy's gravely voice made the crowd rejoice

as it danced in the sultry night.

A loud demand came from throughout the land

to hear the big beasts groove.

So tours were booked and the whole earth shook:

Billy's band was on the move.

They caught a train called the Red Ball Comet,

all bright red shiny and new,

and they took the blues down to Toopaloou

on the twisty tracks by the old bayou.

Son, that train was first class.

Billy's band didn't go unless it was first class.

I mean bright red shiny.

I mean chandeliers in the washrooms.

I mean plush thick carpets.

I mean deeeeeeeelux.

Those beasts jammed into those train cars

thick as jubblin'-bubblin' gumbo juice

with their brasses, basses, grinnin' faces,

and their long tails out the short caboose.

A whirling dervish trumpendous flourish

sent them sailing on their way,

as saxes blended into the raucous din

with a sound like burbling clay.

Then the train bumped and shuddered

And the tracks groaned with pain

When they all got going

with the blues' smoke blowing.

Hurtling down that railroad line,

the beasts in the band boomed on and on.

Faster and faster sped that blazing disaster

toward the bridge over Black Bayou Pond.

And there were roars, there were wails

to the beat of the band

and the rattle of the train upon the rails.

Let me tell you 'bout that bridge.

They was always going to fix it,

but they never got 'round to it.

And let me tell you 'bout that pond.

It was deep.

Where the old tracks twist through the bayou mist

roared that train a-rocking and shaking.

The band was smokin' with the throttles wide open

and it had no mind for braking.

Then came a cracking - bent rails snapping

- that bridge crumpled in with a crash.

That train shot out far like a streaking star

and hit with a wallopin' splash.

Now, deep dark down in that bayou,

the bones of the band in a jumble lie.

And there rests the blues in a pool of ooze

with the ghosts of the bygone-bye.

But that classic Jurassic blues is fantastic

and that bygone band's not gone.

There are folks who swear Billy's playing there

in that steamy bayou pond.

Reprinted from the book BROTHER BILLY BRONTO'S BYGONE BLUES BAND by David Birchman. Text copyright (c) 1992 by David Birchman. Illustrations copyright (c) 1992 by John O'Brien. Reprinted by permission of Lothrop Lee & Shepard, a division of William Morrow & Company, Inc.

Pub Date: 3/18/98

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