In Chapter 17, Bud is mopping the floors and hears Herman Calloway and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression play their instruments for the first time. Bud mentions that initially, Thug's drumming sounded like a steady rain coming down from the sky. Then Dirty Deed's piano added to the beat and made it sound like big drops of water were splashing down. Steady Eddie's saxophone made deep, rumbling sounds. Bud says, "Steady held the note for a long time, then made the sax drift away from the rest of the storm of music" (Curtis 201). When Herman began pulling the strings on his giant fiddle, Bud comments that it sounded like soft thunder. When Miss Thomas began to sing, Bud mentions that it sounded like she was having a conversation with Steady Eddie's sax. Bud says,
"All the other instruments took turns trying to interrupt the conversation, but in the end it was Miss Thomas's voice and Steady's saxophone doing the talking that you really wanted to listen to" (Curtis 203).
Christopher Paul Curtis uses figurative language in the form of similes, metaphors, and personification to describe the Dusky Devastators' music. Similes are figurative comparisons using the terms "like" or "as," while metaphors are also figurative comparisons but do not use the words "like" or "as." Personification is when human characteristics are attributed to something non-human, like Steady Eddie's saxophone "talking." Bud compares the sounds of the instruments to various parts of a storm and conversations which brings to life the band's performance.