What a difference a day can make. Hanging out in Memphis instead of the airport can sure change one’s spirit. First order of business was to get a Trolley pass. That gave me some movement freedom. It is also a good way to see the City and ride along the River. I did that on my way to the new offices of the Blues Foundation and the future Blues Hall of Fame. Along the way we went by the Arcade Restaurant. The Trolley driver told me this was where the “famous fired banana and peanut butter sandwich” associated with Elvis was created.
There was just so much to do. The big treat was a trip to Cozy Corner for some ribs with my Memphis friend Denise. While waiting for Denise I spent some time in Handy Park. It is a good place to see a lot of people. Tas Cru came by. His jam the night before was a Beale Street buzz. Then both Connecticut representatives stopped to say hello.
Ran into an old friend from Virginia, Bobby Black Hat. He was up competing with his band. And has a new CD out. Memphis’ Eric Hughes also happened by. Turns out he is working as a soundman for the night. While we were talking, Vinny Narini came over. Vinny is the Music On The Couch host. An internet program that is bringing the IBC to listeners. In the small world category, I struck up a conversation with the people on the park bench near me and found out they were from outside Rockland, Maine and we go to the North Atlantic Blues Festival each year. Finally it was time for the Cozy Corner. Denise goes way back with the Robinson family that runs the place.
After eating we reminisced with Mrs. Robinson about the fun we had with her husband, who passed away a number of years ago, just hours after we were with him at the restaurant. Next up was a visit with my Memphis lawyer, just in case I wanted to do something stupid. Now it was time to get back to Beale Street and listen to the Blues. I did manage to stop in to say hello to Rosalind Withers and make plans to see her later in the week. More on the Withers Collection later.
Most of the time I like to catch the Connecticut acts and a few of the acts in their venue. The schedule worked and I got over to the Hard Rock Café to see Petey Hop & the JackRabbits. They dress sharp and sound just as good. Two of the other bands had strong female vocalists. (Stacy Brooks, The Hopties) The last band I saw was a hard playing harmonica band with an imposing frontman, The Sugar Prophets.
Then it was hustle on to Pig on Beale for Bill “Swamp” Shake and Tony C. They were infectious and the audience took right to them. Two of the other acts were solo and they seem to be overpowered by the duo sound. I have been noticing this more and more during the various challenges. People were moving around from venue to venue looking to catch some of the higher profile acts. Even so the street was not that crowded as the blues had its draw. Met up with Bill Wax Board Chairman. He was making sure to stop at each venue and thank the judges. It takes a lot of volunteers to run an event of this magnitude and the personal touch from Bill means a lot. As an aside the event booklet has a cover designed by Jason Nocera, Connecticut artist and creator of the blues cartoon Buddy and Hopkins. So as I see people carrying the booklet around it is a little home. And I let people know. Well Thursday, I am trying to meet up for breakfast with same fans in the hotel. Then it is off to Beale. The dilemma is music or food!!!