"Making Hot Chicken": American Songster Radio Episode 15

Sep 18, 2017

When Dom Flemons visited a legendary fried chicken joint in Nashville, inspiration struck him like a wave of cayenne heat:

“It was around when I was doing Leaving Eden with the Chocolate Drops. Through a recommendation of a friend of mine, I went down to this place called Prince’s Hot Chicken. It left such an impression on me, I just knew there was gonna be a song about hot chicken.” 

Dom knew he was onto a song. And what’s more, he already knew the genre. It was destined, in his mind, to be a “hokum” song, in the tradition of bawdy old time blues numbers. The conventions of hokum turn the world upside down. Suddenly, the most mundane, everyday details take on a sexual charge. Hokum songs are provocative, fun, and, perhaps above all, funny. 

Dom recognized that spicy chicken was a great vehicle for hokum’s signature double entendre. But would modern audiences get it?

“It would [either] be so bad that I would never play it again,” he remembers thinking, “or it’d be a song that’d leave such a lasting impression that I’d have to play it every night. Fortunately the latter has been true.”

In a special bonus episode of American Songster Radio, Dom describes the process of recording two distinct versions of his song “Hot Chicken.” He queues up both tracks and shouts out to the session players who helped him turn up the temperature. 

And once you’ve listened, check out a few of Dom’s personal favorite hokum blues originals below.     

“It’s Tight Like That“ (Georgia Tom and Tampa Red)

“Banana in Your Fruit Basket” (Bo Carter)

“Do It Right” (Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie)

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