If you’re ever in a honky-tonk and the juke box needs feeding, look for a lively little ditty titled “Blackie and the Jack Minor Band,” written and recorded by Mt. Juliet’s Randall Haley.
“I doubt that you’ll find it,” Randall says with a chuckle. “There were only 1,100 copies made, and I’ve given a lot of them away.”
It’s a long story, so we’ll start at the beginning:
Blackie was the name of Randall’s faithful old Lab.
Jack Minor was famous for banding ducks in order to track their migrations, starting in 1909.
The “band” referred to in the song is a duck band, not a music band.
Randall and Blackie were hunting on Percy Priest Lake one morning in 2005 when they bagged a mallard with a metal band on its leg. It was put there by Jack Minor’s grandson, who carries on the family legacy from his Canadian hometown.
The greenhead had been banded seven years earlier in Kingsville, Ontario. That’s a long way from Percy Priest Lake, and the mallard had made seven annual round trips. Well, six and a half.
Jack Minor duck bands include a Bible verse along with the banding date. The tiny inscription on the band on Randall’s mallard was from Revelations 22:7: “Behold I come quickly.”
Randall, who was familiar with the legend of Jack Minor, was intrigued. He sat down and wrote a song about it.
He recorded it and six other outdoor-themed songs in a Hermitage studio. Randall did the singing, and a studio band played the instruments.
Randall had contacted the Minor family beforehand to ask permission to record a song about their famous patriarch, and after the album came out he mailed them a copy.
They were delighted with it. So delighted, in fact, that they invited Randall to Ontario for a visit.
Next thing he knew, he was the Grand Marshall in a parade in Kingsville, and taken on a duck hunting trip as a guest of the Minors.
And it wasn’t just any duck hunt – it was in a marsh once hunted by American icons Ty Cobb and Henry Ford.
“It was pretty impressive for a country boy who grew up in Cannon County,” Randall says, adding with another chuckle: “About the only thing my family was ‘famous’ for was making good moonshine.”
An avid outdoorsman since he was four, Randall is now 72, retired from Bell South, and doesn’t duck hunt as much as he used to.
“My old dog Blackie died a couple of years ago,” he says. “That kinda took the enjoyment out of it for me.”
Randall still “tags along” on occasional Wilson County rabbit hunts, one of which was filmed recently for the Southern Woods & Waters TV show.
Meanwhile, the ballad of Blackie and the old duck bander is forever memorialized in song. Even if it’s not playing in your local jukebox.