J. J. Express performs Ethel Waters classic, ‘My Handy Man’

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The J. J. Express performed in the lobby of the Hotel Pattee in Perry Friday night, and the fireplace got pretty hot when Elaine Mattingly, vocalist for the trio, belted out the 1929 Ethel Waters jazz classic, “My Handy Man.”

Mattingly was joined by Jimmy “Sticks” Robinson on drums, harmonica and vocals and Johnny “Juke” Mattingly on keyboards and vocals. The Newton combo performed a variety of original and cover songs in their three sets Friday.

Elaine Mattingly was also joined at the Perry venue by Kelli Weber of Woodward. The friends both hale from Jones County, graduated together from Anamosa High School, attended Cornell College and remain close friends.

Weber, Mattingly said, “combines an intellectual and earthy wit that adds vim and vigor to every room she enters.” Asked whether she would sing the Willie Nelson classic, “Crazy,” popularized in 1961 by country singer Patsy Cline, Mattingly declined but noted, “Kelli has been ‘Crazy’ at a lot of Christmas parties.”

Kelli Weber of Woodward, left, and her longtime school chum Elaine Mattingly of Newton reunited Friday at the Hotel Pattee in Perry during a performance of the J. J. Express.
Kelli Weber of Woodward, left, and her longtime school chum Elaine Mattingly of Newton reunited Friday at the Hotel Pattee in Perry during a performance of the J. J. Express.

“My Handy Man” by Ethel Waters and James P. Johnson

Whoever said a good man was hard to find,
Positively, absolutely sure was blind.
I found the best that ever was,
Here’s just some of the things he does:

He shakes my ashes, greases my griddle,
Churns my butter, strokes my fiddle.
My man is such a handy man!

He threads my needle, creams my wheat,
Heats my heater, chops my meat.
My man is such a handy man!

Don’t care if you believe or not.
He sure is good to have around.
Why, when my furnace gets too hot,
He’s right there to turn my damper down!

For everything he’s got a scheme.
It’s amazing the way he handles my machine.
My man is such a handy man!

He flaps my flapjacks, cleans off the table.
He feeds the horses in my stable.
My man is such a handy man!

(He’s God’s gift!)

Sometimes he’s up long before dawn,
Busy trimming the rough edges off my lawn.
(Oooh, you can’t get away from it!) He’s such a handy man!

Never has a single thing to say
While he’s working hard.
I wish that you could see the way
He handles my front yard!

My ice don’t get a chance to melt away.
He sees that I get a nice fresh piece every day.
Lord, that man sure is such a handy man!

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