Printed in the Eastern Shore Post

'Dreams To Remember'

By Bill Massey
The funeral notice for Jonas Arthur Crudup, 55, who passed away on Oct. 15 from lung cancer, didn't receive any local recognition; but then, except for short annual visits to the Shore from his home in Lake Worth, Fla., Crudup had temporarily given up his home and property in the Franktown area, where he had done a lot of his growing up, to pursue a full-time career as an electrical contractor in Boynton Beach, Fla.

Make that "almost full-time career as a successful electrical contractor" because as his life played out, Crudup was coming to the forefront as an excellent blues musican in his own right, maybe not as famous as his renowned father, Arthrur "Big Boy" Crudup, composer of such blues classics as "That's All Right Mama," "So Glad You're Mine," and "Mean Ol' Frisco," but definitely "in the pocket" when it came to performing and entertaining.

"He really loved the music, especially his father's," said Jonas Crudup's wife of 12 years, Jeanette, from their home in Lake Worth. "But he didn't let it end there. He could be as contemporary as anybody and I think it was this combination which came out in 'Franktown Blues.' "

Jonas Crudup during a break at the recording session for "Franktown Blues"


 Photo by Billy Sturgis



"Franktown Blues" was The Crudup Brothers' W.C. Handy-nominated album for "Best New Artist Debut" this year, and Billy Sturgis, who produced the project for his Warehouse Creek label, is the first to admit that the project would never have gotten off the ground, much less been successful, without Jonas.

"All three brothers were excellent musicans in their own right," Sturgis said, "but Jonas was their glue. They all wanted to do the project, but only Jonas had the discipline to see them through it. He was their strength."

Since the CD was released in 2000, James, the youngest brother, has died of complications from diabetes. As for Jonas' younger brother, George, he's all but disappeared, homeless and crack-addicted in Delray Beach, Fla., at last report.

"It was easy to hear the Eastern Shore in their CD," observed Jane Cabarrus, a close friend of The Crudups and the proprieter of the Do Drop Inn in Weirwood where they, many times accompanied by their father, often played in the late '60s, under the name of The Malibus. "I think this was because the Eastern Shore had a big influence on their music," Cabarrus said. "Their dad didn't play so much with them then. Maybe a couple of songs to open up, but that was all. He was getting old then so he was just more their overseer, but I think he approved of what they were doing. They could play anything - Tyronne Davis, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding. I epecially remember Jonas doing lead on Otis' 'Dreams to Remember.' It was, I thought, better than the original."

Even in those early years, Cabarrus noted, Jonas wanted to be somebody.

"He didn't want to stay in poverty, and believe me The Crudups were in poverty," Cabarrus remembered. "Big Boy wasn't getting any royalties. He was a migrant crew leader, and when his wife died in Florida in 1963 that's when the boys arrived for good. Jonas went to Northampton Middle School in Machipongo. He was a good student because I was there then, too. He was smart and he could overcome obstacles. After he graduated he went into the military. That was his opportunity to escape."

In the Army Jonas was trained in electrical engineering, and while his success would eventually be realized through his own electrical contracting company, that didn't happen until later. Instead, in 1967 when he was discharged, he came back to the Shore, worked himself and his brothers into a serious musical act, and eventually returned to Florida.

From West Palm Beach, Delray, Lake Worth, and Boynton, still as The Malibus, they pulled in respectable crowds and made a go of it. Then they expanded - to Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, and back home to the Eastern Shore. And, this wasn't lost on Big Boy because soon they backed him on the road.

"One night," Jonas recalled in an interview six months ago with a Florida paper, The City Link, "when my dad was close to 70, he had been invited to play at Lincoln Center Memorial Stadium as part of a revue-type show with B.B. King.

"The place was set up like a 1940s nighclub. In the middle of my dad's performance, B.B. King came out and said, 'Big Boy, I heard you brought along your son with you. I also heard he's a musican, too. Why don't we bring him out and let's play something?' So, we did, and to be honest, that's still the highlight of my musical career."

Jonas, along with his wife, Jeanette, Billy Sturgis, and songwriter-bassist Tim Drummond, attended the W.C. Handy Awards in Memphis last May, and that was also a musical highlight for him.
"He was so excited about it," said Jeanette. "He felt like his father was being recognized by a whole new audience because of the way he had redone Big Boy's music. He was also excited because B.B. King heard he was there and invited Jonas to go backstage and meet with him again. That made Jonas so happy."

The Crudup Brothers didn't win the W.C. Handy award for Best New Artist Debut, but, according to Jeanette he didn't expect to win.

"He thought it would happen the next time," she said.

On the Eastern Shore now, there is only one descendant of the Crudup legacy - Jonas' daughter, Preshelle Ames of Eastville, now 32. She works for The Heritage Company in Eastville and is raising four boys - ages 17, 10, 8, and 2.

Asked if there might be a musical future for any of them, she answered, "Maybe. My oldest son, Qujuan, plays saxophone, and my second oldest, Pharez, is just starting band, but likes it. Also, they all like to harmonize around the house. But, whether or not they make it their future is entirely up to them."

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