The Joe and Ben story is a great one, and Joel Dorn’s account is quite accurate, but I would quibble with one phrase. Joel writes, “But blizzard or not, enough people showed up so that Joe had to perform.” For Joe it was never a matter of having to perform; the imperative came from his own desire. If there had been but one person in the house, Joe would have wanted to do his show. If I had a nickel for every time Joe told me, “Every night is Carnegie Hall,” I’d be a very wealthy blogess. And of course you are spot on about Joe’s blues and balladry. I had the privilege of composing the notes for Joe’s funeral program, in which I wrote:
“He rode to fame on the back of the blues, but he bared his soul with romantic ballads. The real heartbreak in the 1957 release of A Man Ain’t Supposed to Cry was not about lost love but about a world that was not yet ready to embrace a black balladeer.”
Now that’s a record that can make you cry!