“Physic Opera” On the Road: Texas Musicians in Medicine Shows
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"The stuff he was selling was black and evil-tasting," recalled Texas blues and R&B legend Aaron Thibeaux 'T-Bone' Walker, "but it brought the people out!" The "stuff" Walker spoke of was Dr. Breeding's Big B Tonic (or B and B Tonic). "Doc" Breeding pitched his nostrum in a traveling show that played Walker's neighborhood in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas in 1925. "(The doctor) hired me and another boy, Josephus Cook, to ballyhoo for him," Walker remembered, "and taught Seph and me to work up some patter about it and climb on the back of a panel truck to drum people in. I'd play and feed jokes to Seph, and he'd start in to dance...Then we'd stack up the bottles, and Doc would come on."