Powerhouse and His Tasmanians

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Band fronted by an African American pianist based on Fats Waller from Eudora Welty’s short story “Powerhouse."

The story was first published in the June 1941 issue of The Atlantic Monthly.

Powerhouse is not a show-off like the Harlem boys, not drunk, not crazy--he's in a trance; he's a person of joy, a fanatic. He listens as much as he performs, a look of hideous, powerful rapture on his face. Big arched eyebrows that never stop traveling, like a Jew's--wandering-Jew eyebrows. When he plays he beats down piano and seat and wears them away. He is in motion every moment--what could be more obscene? There he is with his great head, fat stomach, and little round piston legs, and long yellow-sectioned strong big fingers, at rest about the size of bananas. Of course you know how he sounds--you've heard him on records--but still you need to see him. He's going all the time, like skating around the skating rink or rowing a boat. It makes everybody crowd around, here in this shadowless steel-trussed hall with the rose-like posters of Nelson Eddy and the testimonial for the mind-reading horse in handwriting magnified five hundred times. Then all quietly he lays his finger on a key with the promise and serenity of a sibyl touching the book.


  • Powerhouse, piano
  • Valentine, bass fiddle
  • Little Brother, clarinet
  • Scoot, drums

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