Dexter loves three things: his mama, the smell of pork chops frying, and the sound of Johnny Cotton's clarinet. But Mama explains that their money must go for rent instead of musical instruments. As Dexter listens to old Johnny Cotton play the blues on his clarinet, he knows he, too, wants to hold music in his hands. And with Johnny's help, Dexter may become a musician after all. Soon the man and the boy are swaying and playing "The Old Cotton Blues" together.