Earl Patterson Howze Jr., 58, now resides in Chattanooga, Tenn., but he lives on in the memories of local hockey ?and baseball fans for his "Big Shoe Dance." Performed to the song "Tequila," Howze rocked the crowds ?at Buffalo Bisons and Buffalo ?Sabres games through the 1980s ?and '90s. He is better known, of ?course, as the Earl of Bud, beer ?vendor extraordinaire.
Howze, who moved south in 2007, still has a boatload of friends and relatives in the area. He often visits, and sometimes is back in the stands.
Fans can catch his act this summer at Coca Cola Field on July 11 for the All-Star Game and Aug. 23, when he will be honored at Bobble Head Night.
>People Talk: What's there to do in Chattanooga?
Earl Howze: Well, the weather here is nicer. When I first got here I looked at the mountains. Everything here is new and different because I was in Buffalo for 48 years.
>PT: Are you working?
EH: Well, I did manage the pool in my complex for three years. A lot of kids were around here, but now they moved out or are grown. Pool manager – I kept order.
>PT: What are you doing for fun?
EH: I just recently played an extra in the movie "42," the movie about Jackie Robinson with Harrison Ford. I just finished last week spending eight days on the set. When I got to the ballpark, it reminded me of being back home. It was a fun time and I even spoke to Harrison Ford. The directors were calling me by name when I left because they got to know me. "Earl, sit over here. Earl, do this." I loved being a part of it because of the history of Jackie Robinson.
>PT: So you're still an entertainer?
EH: Well, I've done three plays since I've been here. I did "The Wiz" with the World Church of the Living God at Chattanooga State College. I played the part of the Wiz, Richard Pryor's part [in the movie].
>PT: It's a whole different ball game down there.
EH: It's more laid back than in Buffalo, and wide spread open. They don't have the transportation as far as the buses or the rapid transit we have [in Buffalo]. The buses stop at a certain time, and if you miss them you're stuck for the night or take a cab. It does get hot down here. I stay in my apartment because of the air-conditioning. It's a different heat, and you have more months of it. You cut grass just about all year round.
>PT: I hear you DJ weddings.
EH: They call me Mr. Earl.
>PT: And now you will be immortalized as a bobble head.
EH: I see that, and they are ?retiring my tuxedo, putting it in a frame like they do jerseys.
>PT: As a kid were you a showman?
EH: I remember my first dance contest when I was 7 years old. ?I lived in what is now called Marine Drive Apartments. Back in the day, they were called the Dante Projects. We left there and went to Cold ?Spring near Masten Avenue, not too far from the Rockpile. I used to park cars in my driveway when OJ was playing there during the winter. ?Who would think that I would wind ?up being a vendor at the Rockpile ?and be noticed?
>PT: Is there a mascot out there ?who grabs your eye?
EH: You know, I never really looked at the mascots because I was not a mascot. I was a beer vendor entertainer. Buster was the mascot. I really haven't been to any sporting events down here, except for my grandson's basketball and baseball. I haven't been to a big arena, though I might have seen the [University of Tennessee at] Chattanooga Mocs.
>PT: Maybe you could get a gig at a minor league baseball team.
EH:I'm retired. Nobody is going to get the Earl of Bud like Buffalo has had him, because when I was first here I heard of the Chattanooga Lookouts. I thought about it, and I said, "No. I'm going to just leave it there in Buffalo."
>PT: Do you drink beer?
EH: Over the years I drank Bud, and I loved it. But Bud made me wiser, and now I can afford Heineken.
>PT: How will you be traveling to Buffalo?
EH: Solo single. I have four grown kids, nine grandkids and a great-granddaughter. I had two wives. I'm retired, and I'm not looking. But I'm not running either.
On the Web: The Earl of Bud talks about how many cans of beer he's sold at www.buffalonews.com/life