“When I was a boy, back in my day in Mississippi, a long time ago, they used to have a guitar and a fiddle. I used to stick around those old ‘jooks’ and listen at those old guys play those parties out in the country; Mama didn’t know it”, said Bubba. He really liked the guitar and violin and wanted to play one of them.
So, when he got up to be about 18 or 19 years old, he started working in a log camp. There was a man there, a Negro, from Vicksburg, MS. His name was Lee Armstrong – we called him Bus ‘n Ball. He used to play guitar in the log camp. “I wanted to play and I couldn’t” said Bubba. So, one day when Bubba was up in the kitchen, he heard a guitar make these notes and he said, “What in the world is that?” He knew it wasn’t Bus ‘n Ball and when he went to check it out, it was somebody named Albert.
When Albert hit that one note and sang, “Baby, please don’t go”, Bubba said to Albert, “Hey, how’d you do that?” When he showed Bubba how he did it, Bubba played it over 50 times.
Finally, Bus ‘n Ball bought another guitar and Bubba got Buss ‘n Ball to sell it to him for eight dollars ($8). After that, Bubba started playing in the camp. While in the camp, where he stayed all week, Buss ‘n Ball would tune up the guitar for him and on the weekend, Bubba would go home and run his Mom crazy as he would continue to play the guitar over and over again.
When Bubba left home to go into the Army, he gave the guitar to his younger brother, “Y” “Z”, who currently plays guitar around the Miss-Lou area. For the first 21 years of his life, Bubba lived in Natchez, MS, out in the country, near Sibley, MS, and during that time, all he played at was ‘country jooks’. He imitates Lightnin’ Hopkins, who is his musical idol. Bubba just plays around his house, now.
“I’m a Jehovah’s Witness, I go out to minister everyday until 12 o’clock. I go door to door every morning. Bible don’t condemn blues. But I couldn’t play Stand Up In It now; I tell you that!, says Bubba.
In 2005, Bubba’s baby brother, Theodis Ealey, decided that it would be a shame to lose the authenticity of his older brother’s, Bubba, style of playing and singing and recorded and produced a CD on Bubba, entitled, “Simply ‘Paw Paw’” on the IFGAM Records label.
So, as Bubba always says after playing a song on his guitar, “Po’ Lightnin’ [Lightnin’ Hopkins] ain’t got no home”.