King Biscuit Festival Day 2

Up and at ‘em!  It’s Day 2 for King Biscuit Blues Fest in Helena, Arkansas!

To save some time, we decided to stop by Mickey D’s for breakfast.  We just need something to tide us over until we can get some lunch.  The place was busy with all kinds of folks.  There were the older gentlemen in their suits who looked as though they had just come from church.  They were very snazzy looking.  I swear one of them had on a zoot suit.  They even had their fedora with them.

There were kids and families in the play area.  I looked in to check out the nice big area they had to run around in.  I noticed a table with a display shining on it for a board game.  How cool was that.  The group of kids around the table were having a great time playing.

After finishing up, we headed down the road to Helena.  This time, we went in the front way and not along the side road on the river.  At the bridge going up, my stomach did a couple of little flips.  I really have a hard time with heights.

Traffic was light as we got into town and turned to head toward the center of the old side of town and the levee.  The young ladies were in place to rent out their parking lot.  We pulled in and paid our $5 to park in the best spot in town.

We immediately loaded up the wagon and remembered to bring out jackets this time.  The daytime temperature was supposed to be sunny and 79 with a light breeze off the river.  Tonight’s temperatures would promise to be even chiller than the previous night.  It was to be around 58 after the sun went down.  It was a little warm for long pants, but too cool tonight for anything but that.

We decided to go to the left side of the stage and set up today.  We found a spot on the tracks that was not too far off center and afforded a great view of the performers.  After getting set up, we went down to the town to see what was going on.  It was just after 11:00 in the morning and the symposium had started in the Malco Theater.  The first hour, Roger Stolle from Cat Head Music was leading a panel with some of the current Bluesmen out of Clarksdale.  Unfortunately, Red Paden would not be attending.  Red is the local philosopher in town.  He is not to be missed, if you ever get a chance to hang out.

Sean “Bad” Apple, Mark “Muleman” Massey, Hezekiah Early and Robert “Lil Poochie” Watson were the members on the panel.  Roger was having the panel describe how they each got into the blues and became musicians in the Delta.  Sean was the only member not born in the area.  Their stories were interesting and varied.  Roger had Lil Poochie describe his meeting Sir Paul McCartney.  Apparently, Paul was a fan and had someone go to Mississippi to get Lil Poochie and bring him to LA for a meeting and to record.  How great is that!

After the panel discussion, we wondered up the street and back down again.  Just as we went by the theater, Hezekiah and Lil Poochie were coming out.  I went over to tell them how much I loved hearing their stories and that was the great thing for me.  They appreciated that we even cared to hear them and thanked us.  No, thank you guys for being willing to share your time with us.  We promised to come by and hear them playing at one of the side stages this afternoon.

Back at the main stage, we settled in to listen to the Peterson Brothers on stage.  These brothers are 17 and 19.  We heard them at the Chicago Blues Fest about 5 years ago.  They were awesome then and have only grown in style.  For someone so young, they are quite the masters of sound and style.  They had a couple of percussionists on stage with them.  The four of them were putting on quite the show and we had a great time watching them.

After their set, we headed down to check out the food selections for lunch.  We decided on our picks and went by Bubba’s to purchase a new Peterson Brothers’ CD and get it signed.  While we waited in line, we got to watch the boys.  They are shy, but seem to like the attention.  Rich stepped up and got signatures from all of the guys.  He explained we had been watching them for a while now and hoped to continue to see them out and about.  One the way out the door, we stopped to talk to their folks.  They are really nice.

Now it was time for that food.  I got loaded frito pie and Rich got crawfish etouffee.  Back at our chairs with a couple of beers, we listened to Kathy Guillen and the Girls.  It never fails to impress me how this festival finds new talent to bring to this stage.  These girls had the licks and delivered the blues.  I was impressed.

Bob Margolin, Bob Stroger, and Kenny Smith were on stage next.  Bob Stroger was one of the best bassist in Blues back in the day.  Bob Margolin had played with Muddy Waters.  Kenny Smith grew up in the blues as his father, Willie Smith, was a bluesman and a pal of Muddy Waters.  They talked about blues and played songs from different eras in blues.  It was a fun show to listen and learn from.

Then a real treat came on stage.  The program said Kevin Naquin.  Who the heck was this?  Never heard this name before.  It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for the crew to set up the stage and run the sound checks.  In this time, we got to check out the people milling around the stage.  There was a drummer, bassist, guitarist, and keyboard player.  Then there was some other guy messing with different accordions.  This could be interesting.  Sure enough, it was.  Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys was a Cajun band that can swing and party.  We had a great time.

After the set, Rich went down to buy a CD.  While he was there, he talked to Kevin about Cajun and Lafayette area, where the band was from.  Rich came back with a CD and some stories.  Kevin says to look them up if we are ever in the area again.  We will definitely do that.  I’d love to see them in their own environment and experience one of the Cajun clubs there.

While we were listening to the music, our neighbor came back to his chair.  This guy was from Memphis, TN and down here on his own to listen to the blues.  This was his 19 consecutive year in attendance.  He brought his camper down and stayed at the Helena campground.  They provided a shuttle service back and forth.  I had a feeling he was going to need that by the end of the night.

Our neighbor (never did get his name) recommended that we get tamales from Pasquale’s on the main street.  He said that Pasquale had a restaurant in Helena for a lot of years before retiring from that business.  Now he only did a food wagon at festivals in the area.  Turns out, Pasquale is like 85 years old, or something like that.  I did hear that this was the best place for tamales.

We headed down to hear Hezekiah and Lil Poochie play at the Lockwood Stage.  They were already on and playing when we arrived.  We found seats on the curb and in the shade.  You could tell they had been together for a long time.  They don’t really finish their sentences and yet they know what they are going to play.  Lil Poochie seemed to forget the words now and then, but he could still play guitar.  It was great to hear from some of the old guys with a lot of history.

On our back in to the mains stage, we stopped by and got a pack of 3 tamales.  Rich got some chicken wings as well.  The neighbor was not wrong.  These were some of the best tamales I’ve ever had.  Oh my gosh.  I did take a few minutes to talk to Pasquale since there was no one else in line.  He was a great talker and quite the salesman.  I told him his tamales come highly recommended.  He agreed and said he recommended them, too.

We ate our finds of the evening as we listened to Andy T and Nick Nixon, minus Nick.  Apparently, Nick had not been well and was out of commission for a while.  In his place, Andy T brought in Alabama Mike.  This guys was quite the crooner.  He had a way with song and we enjoyed the set.

Best Tamales so far!  I really enjoyed these.  Wow!  The neighbor said his daughter had gotten him a dozen for Christmas.  They came frozen.  He pops one into the microwave when he feels like having a real treat.  Hmmm.  There’s an idea for a Christmas gift.

Then on to the stage comes Toronzo Cannon.  We’ve heard Toronzo about 5 times now.  He is a Chicago bluesman with a great sound and I love his storytelling in his songs.  He had a new CD come out on Alligator Records, which is Rich’s favorite label.  Toronzo did not disappoint us.  He put on a great show.  The crowd loved him.

After the set, Rich went down to pick up the new CD and talk to Toronzo.  Like I said before, that’s the beauty of these things.  You get to actually talk to the performers and get them to sign the covers.  When Rich got his turn to talk to Toronzo, Mr. Cannon exclaimed that Rich’s hat was a Dobbs.  Apparently, Toronzo loves Dobbs hats.  They talked hats, blues, and a little bit of everything.  Rich even got his picture with Toronzo.

As Rich was waiting in line, the people around him were talking about Toronzo.  So Rich had to fill them on what they didn’t know and what they should know.  He was selling Toronzo to the novices.  That’s how it goes.  You talk to fans and wannabe fans all around you.  Everyone likes to share their stories.

By this time, the sun was down and it was getting chilly.  We had our jackets and I had my blanket.  Unfortunately, we had a group of 40 something women up the hill from us who had been drinking most of the day.  One of them had quite a cackle when she laughed, which was a lot.  They were trying to talk over the music and laughing.  If you want to talk, go to the VIP Tent.  I’m sure they would appreciate you.

We managed to get through Toronzo with them.  It was cigarettes and cigar that got me the most though.  Four people in front of me were smoking away at one point and I had to get up and get out of the cloud.  I don’t mean to be militant about the cigarettes, but my allergies just get worse and worse with age.  I’m surprised I haven’t developed asthma with it.  Lucky so far, I guess.  Rich was getting bothered by the cigar smoker a couple of seats down from him.  Now, he does have asthma and I was worried we were going to have to leave.  Sorry, but just because it is outside doesn’t make it alright to light up and smoke with so many people around you.

Charlie Musselwhite was the last headlining act.  He is quite the harmonica player.  He started out in 1966 and has only been getting better.  He told stories between the songs and played some great blues for us.  It was awesome.  I’ve heard Charlie for a while and he was one of the reasons for coming out this year.  For his encore, he played Rich’s favorite song.  That was a great way to top off the evening.

The cold kept us from lingering too long after the show.  We got back to the car and unloaded the wagon.  Time to head over the bridge and back to our warm hotel room.  First things first though.  A nice hot shower to wash away the smoke and warm up.  That just made me sleepy.  I still had a couple of blogs to write.  After the second entry, it was time to read a bit and then drift off to sleep with all that wonderful blues music playing through my dreams.

Our spot for Day 2
Our spot for Day 2
Rich kicking back for the day
Rich kicking back for the day
Roger Stolle and his panel
Roger Stolle and his panel
Peterson Brothers  starting us out
Peterson Brothers starting us out
Peterson Brothers having fun on stage
Peterson Brothers having fun on stage
Kathy Guillen and the Girls
Kathy Guillen and the Girls
Mark the Muleman Massey on the side stage
Mark the Muleman Massey on the side stage
Crowd enjoying Lil Poochie and Hezekiah
Crowd enjoying Lil Poochie and Hezekiah
Lil Poochie and Hezekiah on stage
Lil Poochie and Hezekiah on stage
BBQ Cook-off competition playing some games
BBQ Cook-off competition playing some games
Love the name on this competitor
Love the name on this competitor
Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys from Lafayette, LA
Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys from Lafayette, LA
Alabama Mike and Andy T
Alabama Mike and Andy T
Toronzo Cannon and his band
Toronzo Cannon and his band
Charlie Musselwhite
Charlie Musselwhite

King Biscuit Festival Day 1

Day 1 of King Biscuit

We skipped the first day of the King Biscuit Festival for our day in Vicksburg.  Today, we would join the masses to listen to blues music, eat great food, and imbibe a bit.  The weather promised to be a bit warm today with a cooler evening.  At least it wasn’t raining like the last time.  The high would be 88 and sunny.

We got up and shuffled about our morning before we packed up and headed over to the Rest Haven for breakfast.  Now, we are in the south and things move at a different pace here.  We got inside and someone let us know to just sit down.  It was fairly full, but mostly regulars by the look of them.  They weren’t in any hurry, so we thought we shouldn’t be either.

It took a bit to get menus and the waitress\cashier\owner came by to take our order.  We ordered omelets, side of gravy, grits, and toast with coffee.  Somewhere along the way, my side of gravy got lost.  It took about 15 to 20 minutes to get it to the table.  It was worth the wait though.  The sausage in the omelet and gravy were wonderful.  This was a great start to the day ahead.

Before we left town, I had to stop by the grocery store for supplies and try to find a hairbrush.  I left mine at home and had nothing to curl these bangs with.  Uncurly bangs are a recipe for disaster.  I couldn’t get them out of eyes!  I picked up picnic supplies for the stage area as well as some snacking stuff.  When we checked out, I saw the manager from the restaurant where we just left go across the front of the store.  He nodded hello.  Wow, I felt like I belonged in town.  Forgot how a small town could be.

After getting gas at the busiest station I’ve ever been in, we let the navi (GPS) take us out of town.  I had no idea where this was going.  It seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere.  Rich assured me it was headed to Helena.  We went past a Blues marker and Rich mentioned he saw it.  Then I saw the Stovall Farms sign.  No way?  This is the Stovall Plantation site?  Where Muddy Waters grew up and worked?

I turned the car around to go back to the sign.  Sure enough, it was a Blues marker for the location of the house where Muddy Waters grew up and lived.  This is the house where his grandparents brought him after his mother died when he was 2.  So cool to find this thing.  We took pictures and then got back on the road.

We popped out onto Hwy 49 going west across the Mississippi River into Helena, Arkansas.  Since we had been here once before, I knew right where I wanted to park.  The local high school has parking for $5.  The donation goes to help their athletic department.  Seems like a really good cause.  The location is close to the festival and easy to get out.  The young ladies were in place and ready to take money.

We walked down to Will Call to pick up our wristbands for admission.  The festival itself is free.  However, seating in the Main Stage area costs you.  I figured it was worth the first time to see the faces of the performers.  And it was.  So I paid again to sit down and face the stage.   We picked up our commemorative t-shirts at the same time.

Back at the car, we loaded up the wagon with chairs and other necessary items to enjoy the day.  After entering the stage area, we found that the right side of the stage was pretty open.  It meant hopping the wagon over the railroad tracks, but that was pretty easy.  We set up chairs and settled in.  Then it was time for a foray into food.

Down on the street, we walked through the vendors to determine what might be good.  We settled on curry goat from the International Food tent.  They were cooking up all kinds of good things on large griddles.  I hadn’t had curry goat in a few years.  Time to try it once again.  Rich got tamales from one of the local vendors. With our food, we headed back to get beers and settled down to music.  Rich got an Oktoberfest and I got something called Love Honey, which was a bock.  The beer helped since the curry was a little more than on the spicy side.  Still great though.

The first act was Blind Mississippi Morris.  He must have been blind to where that bright neon green suit!  Put your eyes out!  He was a great harmonica player though.  Next, The Mike Wheeler Band came on.  These guys are from the Chicago area.  Really enjoyed listening to them play.  This would be our first CD buy of the festival.

Rich went down to Bubba’s to stand on line for a CD and get Mike to sign it.  That’s one of things I love about these festivals.  You buy a CD and get to talk to the people you just saw.  Rich had to wait for a while since a lady with Big City Rhythm and Blues was talking to Mike.  He came back with a great story about standing there with Mike while she talked.  Nothing like getting the gossip from the source.  We’ll be checking out the Mike Wheeler Band at home, too.

Kenny Neel and his entire family seemed like they were on stage as the next act.  Mr. Teddy, the owner for a juke joint in Louisiana where Kenny’s family has played for something like 6 generations, introduced Kenny.  The brothers play in the band.  Kenny brought a nephew on to play for the crowd.  He said he was working to bring up the next generation of Neels to carry on the tradition.

Mike Zito came out next.  I’ve tried to see him play before with no luck.  Strange, he sounds little like John Mellencamp.  I did enjoy the music though.  Anson Funderburk and the Rockets came out next.  This band is a local favorite and plays here every year.  This year, they had a new lead singer named Ray.  I didn’t catch his last name, but he was awesome.  For those who don’t know the name, Anson Funderburk was a member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds back in the day with Kim Wilson.

The sun was going down at the point.  It had been a very hot and sweaty day for us.  The temp was somewhere around 90 with the sun beating down.  We had our umbrellas on the chairs to shade us, but that didn’t cut the heat.  After the sun went behind the trees, we realized we didn’t bring our jackets.  It was chilly out on the levee with no coat.  I had a blanket I brought, but Rich didn’t get a cover up.  Luckily, the temp was only in the mid 70s by the time the show was over.  Still warm enough not to freeze, but a bit chilly with the wind.  Coats tomorrow for sure.

The next group was from New Orleans.  The Rebirth Brass Band was a group of young men who won a Grammy this year for their work.  They were absolutely amazing.  Two trumpets, two trombones, one sax, and 2 percussionists.  They made the music into an art form.  Rich didn’t care for the brass (and a little woodwind and percussion) too much, but he admitted it was very good.

That brought us to the headliner for the evening.  John Mayhall is 82 years old.  He is known as the Grandfather of British Blues.  He and his band, the Bluesbreakers, have started or promoted the careers of some the premier musicians in Britain.  Here are a few:  Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Jack Bruce, Mike Taylor, Peter Green, Walter Trout, and Coco Montoya.

From a history perspective, this is one of those guys you have to see.  His show turned out to be really great.  He did it all.  He played guitar like a master, handled the organ and synethizer with ease, and managed a pretty good harmonica.  The drummer and bassist with him were from Chicago.  They were great at rounding out the sound for him.

At the end, they were fighting over who got to introduce John to the crowd as the final bow.  John seemed OK with letting them fight for the mic.  The drummer won the contest and handled the job with precise drummer skill.  By the way, John and I share a birthday about 50 years apart!

Now for the bad news.  We were into the Anson Funderburk part of the show when a group of 5 girls and three boys sat on the grass behind us.  Immediately, they started talking loud to hear each other over the music.  These kids were somewhere in their 20s.  They didn’t pay any attention to the music around them.  One by one, the people around them moved.  They didn’t notice that they bothered anyone.  Rich refused to move, but it gave me excuses to turn around and stare at them from time to time.  At one point, I thought Rich was going to yell at them.  They were babies who had no idea how rude they were.

Around gossip, Facebook, and other inane things, it turns out the girls drove down on a lark.  They had no place to stay and little or nothing with them.  They were sitting on the ground and couldn’t see anything.  The boys at least had a hotel room.  From the conversation I couldn’t help but overhear, the girls were sleeping in the car down by the marina that night.  Wow, that’s more than I would have done at that age.

When John Mayhall came on stage, this group of kids seemed to know the name.  However, they knew the first two lines of one song.  That’s about the extent of their knowledge.  I was totally amazed that they would spend that kind of money to sit on the grass and not listen any of the music.  What a waste of time and money.  I wondered how they afforded that for all of them.

When the music was over, we stood up to pack.  The area behind was littered with dozens of beer cans and containers.  The kids got up and didn’t attempt to pick up after themselves.  I wanted to scream at them for being so ignorant about their surroundings or what someone else was going to have to do to clean up their mess.  Who lets their children do this sort of thing!

Let it go!  It took a while to breathe deep and let the stress drain from me after dealing with that mess.  I wanted to so punch a parent for not doing their job.

We got back to the car through the crowd.  After unloading the wagon and packing things away, it was time to hit the road.  We got in line and made our way to the bridge over the Mississippi.  Now this bridge is very steep.  I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as we drove over it in the daylight.  It wasn’t any better at 10:15 PM.

Traffic was slow going down 49.  At one point, we were all passing a VW mini bus that couldn’t do over 50 at best.  Once we got to 61, it was 70 miles an hour all the way into Clarksdale.  Some of the cars were going a bit faster than that.  I couldn’t tell you how fast because they zoomed by and left only tail lights.  We arrived at the hotel and gathered our stuff to take up.

We got into the lobby as other festival attendees were returning.  Everyone was talking about the experience and asking questions.  Once up stairs, it was hot showers and decompressing before turning in for the night.  There’s always tomorrow.

Stovall Plantation site
Stovall Plantation site
Rich with the Muddy Waters' boyhood home site
Rich with the Muddy Waters’ boyhood home site
Our set up for the day
Our set up for the day
Hanging in the shade from the heat
Hanging in the shade from the heat
All settled in to watch the music
All settled in to watch the music
First act on stage
First act on stage
Kenny Neel on stage
Kenny Neel on stage
Mr.  Teddy at the end of Kenny Neel's set
Mr. Teddy at the end of Kenny Neel’s set
Mike Wheeler trying to walk through the crowd
Mike Wheeler trying to walk through the crowd
Mike Zito and band on stage
Mike Zito and band on stage
Anson Funderburk and the Rockets
Anson Funderburk and the Rockets
Rebirth Brass Band
Rebirth Brass Band

 

 

 

Cajun Vacation: Walking in Memphis

Today, we are on the move again.  We woke up to dry skies, but the clouds were very low.  It’s probably good we are leaving NOLA today.  We start our first leg back to the real world and home.  After packing up, Rich went down to the lobby for coffee so that he would be prepared for the drive.  We would stop and grab something to eat on the way out of NOLA.

I called down to get our car brought around by the valet and to have someone bring up a cart to help us get all of this stuff downstairs.  I thought it would be easier to tip someone.  I am on vacation, you know.  The young man knocked on the door and even had his own doorstop.  That’s good planning.  We got everything to the door and he loaded it up for us.

Rich had not returned, so Rick and I headed to the lobby to try and catch him.  No luck though, because we missed him somewhere.  Rick sent a text to join us in the lobby.  A couple of minutes later, Rich appeared with phone and coffee in hands.  He said he got to the room and saw the guy taking the cart to the service elevator.  He figured we were already downstairs.

I thanked the ladies at the front desk for helping us around the French Quarter during our stay.  They had the best information and always willing to help me figure out how to do something.  The Courtyard was the best place.  We had a wonderful stay with them.

Down in the garage, our car was ready and waiting.  The valet was giving me instructions for getting out of town and back on the road toward Memphis.  Our luggage showed up and I packed the car with my usual expertise.  Time to wave good-bye and creep out into rush hour traffic in New Orleans.

We got lucky and traffic was clear.  We headed west on Dauphine St and followed the Navi to I-55 going west.  We had gotten on the other side of Lake Ponchetrain when the first rain drops started hitting the car.  It was only sprinkles at this point.  So we made it out of town before it got wet.  Now that was great planning.

We stopped up the road for gas and something to eat.  That would take us into Clarksdale.  The rain got a little heavier as we were getting around the Tennessee border.  Then it really broke loose as we got off the interstate and onto the minor highway.  There were times when it was a little hard to see.  In some places, we hydroplaned somewhat where water just couldn’t run off.

As we moved north, the evidence of flooding was getting more and more.  In several locations, the fields looked like good sized lakes just standing with water.  A couple of places had water running from one field across the road to another field.  It was a single lane of traffic at these points.  Luckily, it wasn’t trying to sweep any vehicles with it.

We got into Clarksdale at the crossroads.  The viaduct on 61 was closed because of high water.  We snaked our way through the neighborhoods.  At one point, the train was blocking the tracks because it was stopped for water.  We got around it all and back over to 61.  Across the Sunflower River, we found that Hick’s BBQ was still open.

We had just an hour before they closed for the day.  We ordered half a dozen tamales, rib tips, BBQ pork sandwiches with fried okra and baked beans.  Rich and I had been trying for a couple of years to catch Hick’s open so we could eat the best tamales in the world.  The guy behind the counter laughed when I said that.  However, it is true.  These were some of the best hot tamales that I’ve had.  We’ll have to stop by and try them again.

We got back to the crossroads and headed north for Memphis.  I tried to stop for gas outside of Clarksdale, but apparently the pumps and computer system was down.  With the storms and rain, it appears that things have been down off and on all day.  I opted to get gas further up in the delta.

We’d be spending the night in Memphis and hopefully get to see some blues at Run Boogie Blues Hall.  Rick can check out the act on stage next door at Rum Boogie, if he wanted.  I knew Rick also wanted to go by the Gibson Factory.  He wasn’t interested in the tour so much as the guitars on display and the fact that you could play them.  I think we had a full day for our one night there.

We got within 10 miles of Memphis when a sign said the road was closed.  Apparently, the high water here had the road closed to traffic.  We got on an east-west highway to get around the block.  This took us out of our way by some miles, but it was better than nothing.  This road took us back over to I-55 so we could head up to Memphis.  The road was drier here, but there were still some places with standing water.

The exit off to the interstate ran down into some of the industrial areas.  At one point, we were detoured again because of high water.  This wound us around through some of the older neighborhoods and right by Gus’ World Famous Chicken.  We turned on Union and right down to the hotel.  We were across from The Peabody.  I tell myself I’m going to stay over there someday, but today was not that day.

We got checked and ready to walk to Beale St.  Somehow, Rick talked his Dad into going over to Lansky’s first.  When I caught up to them, they were standing by waiting for the famous Peabody ducks to go up to their penthouse for the night.  I pulled them along to the Lansky store to shop instead.

Once inside the shop, the colors and textures are wonderful.  I find it hard not to run around and touch everything.  Rich started looking through shirts and hats.  Nothing was standing out for him.  Rick saw shirts he liked, but he figured he would never really wear.  One of the salesmen asked about our day.  I explained we had stopped by to look.  Rich then found the perfect shirt.  It was a black camp shirt with guitar picks and a fret board on the front.  On the back was a full guitar and the words, “Home of Rock and Roll” in bright colors.  It was beautiful and it was in Rich’s size.  Out came the credit card and Rich purchased it.

I ran the shirt back over to the hotel while the guys walked down to the Gibson Factory.  By the time I came back down to the street, it was starting to rain.  I had left my rain jacket upstairs guessing that the rain was over for the night.  If you have to decide something, I figured I’d go for warm.  Darn, I got that wrong.

I didn’t see the guys when I got to Gibson.  Inside the door, I looked around.  A young lady who worked there asked if she could help.  I explained I let my kids come down where and I couldn’t find them.  Rick walked from behind one of the racks about then.  I told her I found one of them.  She laughed.  Rick sat down and started to play a Les Paul that he had admired.  Price tags here are to be admired, but not paid either.  Rich sat down on a couch and waited as Rick and I walked around and around the guitars.  It is an impressive place with lots of guitars just hanging around.  After buying a new guitar strap that says Gibson, Rick was ready for me to drag him out of the store.

We walked back down to Beale Street, but no one was playing any live music yet.  That would be around 8:00.  We checked on the schedule for a couple of places and getting the names of groups who would be playing.  We walked down toward the Handy Park to check out some places.  Across the street, Dyer’s was open.  Rick decided he was hungry again.  We went in for burgers and beers.

Back out on the street, we wondered up Beale Street toward B.B. King’s place and then around the block back to the hotel for a rest.  The rain had pretty much quit and it was getting a little bit chilly.  We’d rest our feet and then head back down to Beale for the 8:00 shows.

Live music started up at 8:00 PM on Beale Street.  We left the hotel just after the guitars started.  The rain was coming down slow and steady.  The five minute walk up to Beale Street didn’t soak us through.  We got to the door for the Blues Hall Juke Joint with the music coming through the door.  The doorman checked our IDs and stamped our hands.  Luckily, the bar is free to enter.  We stepped inside and the music surrounded us.

We took over one of the high-topped tables and shucked the raincoats.  Rich stepped up to the bar and got us three bourbon high balls.  Well, they were actually Canadian whiskey high balls since that’s all they had.  The Blues Masters were on stage.  I wouldn’t say they were exactly blues.  They were playing mostly R&B and Soul.  They weren’t bad though.  We heard three or four songs.

The crowd was ebbing and flowing around us.  People would move between the Juke Joint and Rum Boogie Café through the adjoining door.  A large group of guys and girls came in at one point and tried to find seating together.  They ended up at a table behind us and a table right up front.  They didn’t stay too long before they picked up their Big Ass Beers and moved back out to the street.  I assume they were looking for a specific type of music and hadn’t found it yet.

The band brought up their singer after the first few songs.  Her name was Queen Anne.  To my ears, it sounds strange to name your child with a title as their name.  She had a nice voice.  Unfortunately, the lead guitarist was also the sound guy.  To hear Queen Anne over the band, he cranked her mic up over the other sounds.  This meant the sound now made your ears bleed.

We hung out for a couple of songs and finished our drinks.  It was time to go while we could still hear.  I would prefer to hear more music.  I asked the guys to walk through Rum Boogie Café in hopes that the band there was still on stage.  I wasn’t having any luck though.  No one was on stage and the lights were dark.

On the street, we could hear music blaring from several locations all at once.  The rain was coming down harder.  Maybe it was time to call it quits for the night.  We were planning to be on the road early tomorrow.  It would be a long day as we planned to drive on home for the 8 and more hours.

The street was dark with the rain coming down.  In a couple of spots, we had to skirt puddles to keep our feet dry.  We debated crossing the street at Peabody Place against the light because there was no traffic coming down the one-way street.  At the last minute, the pedestrian light changed in our favor.

We joked about melting before we could get back to the hotel.  Good thing none of us were that sweet.  As we passed the Peabody Hotel, Rick told me we’d be home now if I had just made reservations there.  I told him I would have, if he were paying.  We crossed the street and entered our warm and dry hotel.

The night in Memphis didn’t work out as well as I had planned, but we did manage to do a couple of things we wanted.  Rick got to play guitars at Gibson.  Rich shopped at Lansky’s.  We got to see the Peabody ducks walk to the elevator.  The live music was short, but enough to remember.

Beale Street in the rain
Beale Street in the rain
Gibson Factory
Gibson Factory
Rick with one of his favorite guitars
Rick with one of his favorite guitars
Love is a new guitar
Love is a new guitar
Little dobro with that song
Little dobro with that song
Peabody Hotel on a dark and rainy night
Peabody Hotel on a dark and rainy night

 

Vacation: Day 3 Give ’em the bird

Day 3 of vacation dawned sunshiny and bright with the sound of a jackhammer outside our window.  At least they waited until 8:00 AM to start drilling on the street below.  Well, we had things to do and places to be anyway today.

We got ready, packed out bags, and headed out of Louisville.  As we were heading out to catch 64, I saw that my old stomping ground had been revived.  O’Shea’s Irish Pub is in the old City Lights and Doc Crow’s BBQ is in the old Great Midwestern.  Now I have a reason to come back and check out more stuff.

For breakfast, I had found a restaurant that I thought Rich might like.  Wild Eggs sounded very similar to the Yolks restaurant we found in Chicago.  Rich did admit to me on the way out to the restaurant that he was a little bit hungover from the drinking the previous evening.  To be fair, he really doesn’t drink that much these days.  Some greasy food and coffee would help.  Then I’m making him drink bourbon this afternoon.

We arrived at Wild Eggs to find people standing outside.  That was a good sign, if you don’t mind a wait.  There was free coffee at the door that you could enjoy as you wait.  We stood outside and talked.  Everyone was churning around in small and large groups.  Everyone directly ahead of us went in.  It would be our turn soon.  I look up and Nicole, the bartender from last night, is walking in the door.  How cool.

A group of people came to sit on the bench when the previous occupants had gone inside.  An older gentleman came up and started talking to us.  I think he was looking for fresh ears to turn that morning.  The group he was with were mostly women.  Soon, our pager buzzed and it was time to say good-bye to the nice man.

We got seated and made our order.  A carafe of water and a carafe of coffee came to the table.  Good, we should have a supply of coffee at our fingertips without waiting for someone to come by.  I ordered chorizo sausage gravy and biscuits with a side of grits.  Rich ordered the breakfast burrito with black beans.  The food arrived and was wonderful. The gravy was tangy with a little bit of spice.  The grits were real hominy and not the instant dried stuff.  Rich’s breakfast plate was amazing.  Everything was fresh and delicious.

Then it was time to hit the road yet again.  We were heading to Lawrenceburg, KY and the Wild Turkey Distillery.  I think we’ve planned to hit just about every distillery there is on the Bourbon Trail.  Wild Turkey was Rich’s next choice.  We arrived a little after 12:00, got tickets for the tour, and had a 20 minute wait.  We walked around the shop, purchased a t-shirt for Rich, and then hung around outside.  There were kids barrel rides dressed up as turkeys.  I just couldn’t resist getting my picture taken.

Jonathan, the tour guide, came out and gathered us up for the bus ride to the distillery on the property.  We got the history lesson for the operation from their start in 1895 through today.  The bus dropped us at the door.  Before going in, Jonathan explained about three large silos just outside of the door.  One silo is for corn, the other for malted barley, and the last one is for rye.  The contents of the three silos is the week’s worth of materials for making Wild Turkey bourbon. Impressive.

During the tour, Rich explained about being a homebrewer and the similarities.  Jonathan immediately zeroed in on the fact that he had to talk to Rich when the tour was over.  We walked around the plant and viewed the displays.  Finally, it was back on the bus and to the tasting room.  Of the 6 or 7 types of bourbon produced at the distillery, you could sample two of them.  Lucky for Rich, I wasn’t sampling.  I got two of the bourbons he wanted and he used his tickets for two others.  This gave him a total of four to sample.  I did sneak a little sip of each.  I know have a new favorite bourbon, if I really drank bourbon.

On the bus, I was talking to the lady in front of me.  She was wearing the most beautiful American Indian jewelry.  I asked her about it and found out that she used to deal in this type of jewelry.  She and her husband lived in Grants, NM.  They ran a shop there and worked with several artists to provide jewelry.  Lucky her.  I told her my story about Rich thinking I knew the name of every American Indian jewelry artist in the southwest.  Too bad she isn’t still in the business.  Today, she, her husband, and her sister-in-law are travelling the country.  Last week, they were in Cape Cod.  Today, they were in Kentucky.

So the tasting ended and Jonathan got to have his conversation with Rich.  We gave him the AHA website and Charlie Papazian’s name.  He and Rich talked details and how to get started.  After stressing the process and not the actually jumping right in, I think Jonathan saw that he was going to be working at this for a while.  We might start hearing his name in the world of beer.

Time to make a decision.  Rich wanted to buy a bottle of the best bourbon he had tasted.  It actually came down to two bottles.  The Kentucky Spirit was great and not that expensive.  However, he could buy a bottle of Rare Breed and have a special label created for the bottle.  His label said:

Bottled specially for the 12 Bar Blues Bar

This is the name of Rich’s bar in the basement.  When the ladies at the desk asked about the reference and he explained the name, they thought it was really cool.  One of the ladies asked why a name like that.  Tanya said, “I’d drink at a bar named 12 Bar Blues Bar!”

It was a day of old guys.  One of the older guys from our tour came in and asked for directions to Louisville.  Only he wasn’t saying it any one of the 5 accepted ways to pronounce it.  The ladies behind the counter were laughing and kept saying Luval, but the guy wasn’t listening.  One of the tour guides stepped in to help him.  But every time the older guy said Louisville, the ladies at the counter started shouting Luval!  I couldn’t help myself and after the third time, I started helping them shout, too!  We went out for about 10 or 15 minutes, before Rich made me leave.  But I was having fun!

OK, back on the road again.  We headed toward Lexington and made our way to I-75.  This means we took a couple of circles.  In Lexington, they love their circle drives.  We found 75 and headed south.  The country here is pretty much mountains.  You are driving through the edge of Harlan County and Hazard.  This is coal country.

Both sides of my families are from Kentucky.  My mother grew up in a small town called Crail Hope.  My granddaddy’s place still evokes a lot of memories.  Smells always send me back there.  One of them is the smell of crude oil.  Why?  Because they were pumping crude oil from a couple of wells on the property while I was growing up.  That was how he supported himself when he retired from farming.  We stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank.  Right next door was a well head pumping away.  It reminded me of walking around the fields at my granddaddy’s.

We meandered our way down to Knoxville TN and toward Gatlinburg.  Our cabin is right off the parkway between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  I knew the weekend traffic would still be in Pigeon Forge and probably slow us down.  But what we got was absolutely ridiculous.  It was car show weekend in town.  Turns out, the entire strip in downtown is the car show.  Cars of all kinds were lining the strip on both sides.  People had their chairs out and sitting in the grass next to the highway.  Three lanes of traffic were going 10 miles an hour for about 7 or 8 miles.

We figured out to stay in the center lane to keep out of the cruising cars.  But that didn’t mean we were going much faster.  We just stopped less.  People would run across the 6-lane highway.  I think it was an old fashioned game of chicken.  Cars were moving back and forth between lanes, depending on if they needed to turn around and go back around the strip.

After an hour, we finally made it through town and out the highway to our cabin.  At this point, you are technically in the Smoky Mountain National Park.  We got to our road and turned up this big hill.  For those in Southern Indiana, this was the equivalent of driving the Knobs.  It is basically a single lane road that goes straight up the hillside.  Our cabin appeared on the left and we pulled into the concrete pad.

As I thought, the cabin is literally hanging on the side of the mountain.  The concrete pad is little bigger than our CRV would fit on.  We opened the door and started moving in.  It is a little worn, but pretty much as advertised.  The whole cabin is a large great room with a loft for a bedroom.  It was going to be cozy and welcomed.

After getting set up and making a grocery list, we headed into Gatlinburg to look around and grab some food.  We stopped in at the Smoky Mountain Brewery.  The place was packed with football fans watching one of several games.  I guess this is the place to be.  The food was pretty good and the beer wasn’t bad.  We found out that we could have parked in their lot for free after eating there.  We would know better next time.

Now we had to find a grocery store.  Turns out, the two places in Gatlinburg were closed up tight with for sale signs.  Oh My God! We had to go back to Pigeon Forge!  Maybe the traffic was clear and people were going to bed.  Oh no!  They were still going strong at 9:30 at night.  After another half an hour, we made it down to the Kroger.  In the checkout, we found out that if alcohol was not in a plastic or paper bag, it was considered an open container when they stopped you.  We got all of our stuff in plastic bags and packed up to head back on the strip for the cabin.

At 11:00 PM, the cruise was still going on and people were just starting to close up and pack it in.  We managed to get to the outside lane, which made it go a little faster.  We got back to the cabin before midnight.  We decided to sit out on the porch and watch the mountain disappear into the fog.  The stars come out.  Rich said he saw a shooting star, but I didn’t see it.  So there is confirmation.  After a while, it’s pretty dark.  Rich went up to bed.

After all the driving, I was still pretty awake.  I had blogs to write so I sat in the living room on the big couch with my feet up writing.  The sounds of the cabin are quiet and shifting.  I hear things dropping on the roof.  The windows are open to the breeze and the cool evening air.  We sitting up in the air, but I worry that animals can climb up this high.

Finally, it’s time to call it quits.  I go to bed, but I’m too hot to sleep.  I keep listening to the sounds around me.  That is, I try to listen, but the sounds of Rich sleeping are getting in the way.  I want to put my hand over his face when I need to hear something, but that would only wake him up.  I look out the window cut into the side wall of the cabin that looks out to the sky.  I can’t see any stars even though it was clear out.  Oh yeah, the window is too dirty to see.  How would you clean it up here?  I finally go to sleep only to wake in the early morning hours thinking that raccoons have gotten into the kitchen downstairs and knocking things over.  I got downstairs, but it’s only the ice maker dumping ice.  What? No imaginary raccoons?  Back to sleep…finally.

Oh yeah, and the reference to the title for this day is the slogan out at Wild Turkey Distilleries.

Rich doing the rose pose at the Wild Turkey Distillery.
Rich doing the rose pose at the Wild Turkey Distillery.
Big kids will play.  Just a little wild before the tour.
Big kids will play. Just a little wild before the tour.
Our coach awaits.
Our coach awaits.
Barrel houses and shipping department.
Barrel houses and shipping department.

 

Looking down inside one of their fermenters.  No, Rich, you can't have one.
Looking down inside one of their fermenters. No, Rich, you can’t have one.
After the fermenter, the liquid moves to the beer well.  It's a lot of liquid.
After the fermenter, the liquid moves to the beer well. It’s a lot of liquid.
Photo op in the distillery.
Photo op in the distillery.
Rich tasting not two, but four of Wild Turkey's very best.
Rich tasting not two, but four of Wild Turkey’s very best.
One of three silos that hold the products to make fine bourbon.
One of three silos that hold the products to make fine bourbon.
Looking from the back porch up to the road at the cabin.  It's a long way up.
Looking from the back porch up to the road at the cabin. It’s a long way up.
Hot tub on the porch will come in handy.
Hot tub on the porch will come in handy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 9 We’re not in Kansas anymore?

We made it home.  We were in no hurry again this morning.  It’s vacation, right?  Our last day of lazy mornings and no need to be anywhere soon.

I started out in the passenger seat.  I wanted one good day to brown my right arm.  Since I do a lot of the driving, my left arm gets pretty brown after a day or so.  It had been too hot from Texas to Iowa to have the windows down.  A/C was a requirement to sustain life.

I got a couple of good hours in before I needed to take my turn at the wheel.  It was also my turn to read one of my books and ignore Rich.  Seemed fair since he was reading his newspaper and playing Sudoku.  By then, we were at the Illinois border.

We noticed right away that it had rained on this side of the river.  And rained a lot by the look of it.  There were flooded fields everywhere.  It had been dry over on the Iowa side.  At least it was sunny now.  We were making good time, until we hit the continuous road construction that occurs on this stretch of 88.  Every time I come this way, there is construction.  I think this is how they occupy those guys in the part of Illinois.

At one point, I thought it was trying to rain on us. I kept hearing what sounded like raindrops hitting the car.  No water though.  Then I realized that I was running into bugs.  As we moved east, the bugs got bigger and there were more of them.  What was that movie some years back about a growing bug population?  Maelstrom I think it was called.  I felt like I was living it.  Once we turned north, the onslaught stopped.

On the road, we had a lot of conversations.  It’s hard to put them down on paper.  It was more than funny billboards and interesting people in the car that we passed.  I like talking to Rich and I think our individual sense of humor plays off the other one.  Probably one of the reasons I like him hang around.  That and he pays his share of the bills.

When we got outside of Dallas, Rich was looking for the Texas roadmap that he had collected when we had entered the state some days ago.  We stopped at just about every Welcome center we hit during the trip.  It was a good place to stop for a break and talk to someone about their state.  Rich would get a roadmap for the state and any brochures that he thought looked interesting.  You never know when you might come back to visit the state.

So when Rich wanted to know something about roads, he would pull out the map of that state and study it for directions.  He was also looking for things we might stop and see.  We like playing tourist.  We will stop for just about anything interesting.

However, on this occasion, Rich just could not find that darn Texas roadmap.  He looked in the glove compartment, the hidey-hole in the console, and in the back seat.  After a while, we started to speculate where that map might have gone.  Did it get thrown out with trash?  Did someone break into the car and take just that map?  Maybe the guys at the repair shop took it.

Then we started getting closer to home.  Maybe Lily was reading it and forgot to put it back.  No, maybe Rose took it because she knew it would drive Rich crazy when he couldn’t find it.  We reached Oklahoma by that time and Rich pulled out that state map.  Our thoughts moved on to other things.

We always have music playing on the radio.  Rich prefers Bluesville to most of the channels we have plugged into the radio using XM.  I didn’t really care.  However, we got the download of the new Trampled Under Foot album.  This meant we had to listen to it on the way back.  We went through that album and several more on Rich’s music player through the Aux input.  It was a change and we got to listen to the TuF album in our own environment.  It was great.

When we first started out on the road, we heard a song called, Butter for My Grits, by Big Bill Morganfield.  Bill is one of Muddy Waters’ sons.  I loved that song.  We decided to make it our theme song for the trip.  I then attempted to get grits for breakfast or other meals just so we could say that.  We heard that song over a dozen times in the course of our driving days.

The song is about a guy who goes to eat his grits and finds that he is out of butter.  He goes to the store, but they are out of butter.  He goes to the neighbor’s house, but they are out of butter.  He just can’t find butter for his grits.  Just not a southern thing to eat grits without butter.

I found out a lot of facts as we traveled also.  Oklahoma raises the most horses and has the most horse related events than any state.  Kansas has a lot of limestone and in the central section where the Tallgrass Prairie is, you can see a lot of stone fences.  We had a couple of people arguing if they were walls or fences.  Apparently in Kansas, they are fences.

OK, I’m winding down here.  We got close enough to home to call Rich and tell him to get the party out of the house.  We do this every time and you would think he would be used to it.  He just gripes at us.  I think I heard something about grow up.  Not sure though.

We came up Oak behind the garage.  Sascha was outside, but couldn’t really see up until we got past the new garage that blocks her view of the road.  She was pretty much just lying next to the house watching the world go by.  Then you could see the thought go across her face, “Daddy and Mommy are home!”  She pushed open the small door as I raised the big door.  She was dancing and barking.

Rich went to get his Husky hug.  I didn’t wait for my hug.  I had some place I had to be and quick.  I got my hug when I came out to help bring in the bags.  She was so excited to see us.  I think she was more excited to see Rich than me.  After we got the stuff all in the house, I brought in.  She attached herself to Rich for the rest of the night.  She was on his feet, touching his foot at dinner with her paw, and leaning against him as he was working on a secret project.

It was nice to be welcomed by one person.  Rick just tells me he liked having the entire house to himself with the dog.  Maybe we could go back out on the road.  However, we did have to pay all of the bills and keep moving money to his account for food and necessitates.

Did you wonder what happened to that Texas roadmap?  I found in with some papers I had stuffed into my backpack.  Oops!

It’s good to be home.

KC: Not enough TuF

It was a slow and rainy Sunday.  We got up late and headed out to breakfast.  Rich was planning on eating chicken at Stroud’s so breakfast was supposed to be light.  We tried to find Daylight Donuts, but apparently they had closed up shop for good.  We settled for breakfast sandwiches at Hardee’s.

From there, we headed to downtown Independence to find some of the local museums.  This is Harry Truman country and the signs all around town show it.  At first, I thought they were Charlie Chaplin.  I didn’t know that Harry carried a cane.  We decided on the National Trails Museum.  All of the major trails leading out west had their beginning points in this area.  Where they started depended upon where the riverboats set the travelers off.

I knew the Santa Fe trail started here.  I was surprised to find out that all of the other did as well.  So in the 1800s and you were traveling west, you got your supplies in the Kansas City area and began your journey.  This includes the California trails, Oregon trail, and Mormon trail.  Even Lewis and Clark came this way on their way out west to explore.

But first, the museum didn’t open until 12:30.  It was 10:45 at the moment.  We decided to look up where Stroud’s Restaurant was located.  They actually opened at 11:00 for Sunday dinner.  Even though we had just had breakfast an hour ago, we decided to go there and see if we could get in and have an early lunch.

We headed out following the directions on the GPS.  We arrived at this place that sat on a small side road to the highway.  Pretty tight getting in with the truck.  People were already standing all over the yard.  How good was this place?  Rich dropped me off and went to park. I figured I could get our names on the list for a table.

I walked in behind someone with a crowd of 10.  I was pretty sure it was going to be a while to get a table.  The lady informed me that she just had a table for 2 open up and to let her know when Rich came in.  It took him a few minutes, but we were seated right away.

We got seated and drinks were served.  We chose our chicken meals from the menu.  Now to wait.  Steve Stuart at work had told Rich about this place.  He said it was not to be missed.  The chicken was awesome.  Pretty quickly, the chicken came out.  Everything is served family style so there were bowls and platters all over the place.  Now being the Southern I like to claim, I got chicken livers.  Rich went for dark meat chicken.  We ate until it came out our ears.  Then the waitress brought out the most awesome cinnamon rolls.  There were actually like cinnamon cakes rolled in brown sugar.  I couldn’t stop.

With dinner over, we wondered the grounds a little bit looking at the gardens, the lake, and some the cute buildings.  Now it was really time to get back to our day as tourists.

The National Trails Museum was open.  It was small, but contains a lot of information.  We watched a video on the trails and their orgins.  The first exhibit covered Lewis and Clark in the area.  Then it went on to the major trails.  There were diary comments, items from each trail, and stories.  I learned a few more things I didn’t know.  We walked around looking at exhibits, reading diary entries, and just learning more about the push west.

After the museum, we talked about our next move.  There was the Harry Truman home and library in town.  Rich decided he just wasn’t a Presidential type of guy.  I remembered that one of the neighboring towns had a Civil War battlefield.  We decided to check this out.  So we drove out to Lexington.  The town was tiny.  I just didn’t see what there was to fight over.  But it was the gateway to Kansas City and the way west.

We stopped at the Anderson House site first.  No much to see.  Then we drove up to the top of the hill to the battlefield itself.  This is called the Battlefield of the Hemp Bale.  The Confederate guard of the town had the task of keeping the Union forces out of Lexington and to keep them from moving further west.  Unfortunately, it was a small garrison.  They stacked hemp bales at the bottom of the hill overlooking the river.  Once they ran out of ammunition, they resorted to setting the hemp bales on fire.

Even this didn’t help them.  They ended up surrending to the Union.  Five soldiers were buried at the top of the hill.  There is a marker there commerorating the event and their loss.  We walked around the path that takes you through the field and around the top of the hill.  You can still see the outline of the fortications at the top of the hill.  The view to the Missouri River is pretty much obscured by trees.  At that time, they could see the river from this location.

By this time, it was warm and steamy.  The rains as held off and the temperature was getting up into the mid 80s.  We headed back into town.  As I drove the country road, a police officer fell in behind me from one of the roads.  I was nervous, even though I hadn’t done anything to make him think I needed to be pulled over.  It’s just that you never drive quite normal on an unfamiliar road.

As I went through a set of curves, we went by a car down in the ditch.  The driver’s door was open and the airbags were blown.  Yep, I bet someone didn’t make it through that curve last night.  The officer stopped to investigate.  That left me free to get back to town.

So being in the Kansas City area, Rich just had to try the BBQ.  There was a local place just down from the hotel.  I had seen pretty good reviews, but Rich saw one bad one.  He just wasn’t sure about trying it.  It was getting late, so he decided it was the place.  We walked in and it smelled wonderful.  He ordered pulled pork and a rib sampler.  It was good.  I like KC BBQ and they did a nice job.

Now it was time to go back and get ready for the evening.  We were headed to The Trouser Mouse Bar and Grill for the Trampled Under Foot listening party.  Doors opened at 6:00 and the listening was scheduled for 7:00 with the band taking the stage at 8:30.  We got their about quarter after 6:00.  A few cars were already there.  There was a car from Ohio and even another car from Illinois.  So we weren’t going to take the prize for furthest drive.

At the door, we gave them Rich’s name and luckily, we were on the list.  I told the guy at the door where we had come from.  He smiled and said there were people from all over coming in for the party today.  It looked like maybe 100 people on the list.

We found a table and ordered up drinks.  I saw Nick, Kris and Danielle circulating through the crowd.  We had eaten so much over the course of the day, there was no way I had room to eat here.  Pretty soon, a guy named Ryan introduced himself, the bar, and started the CD.  We all sat and listened.  It was very cool to be among the first to hear it.  And the music was awesome.  Rich felt vindicated.  He had written to tell them to put, “It’s a Man’s World” on their next CD and they did.  Danielle was in wonderful voice for that track.

After listening to the CD, Trampled Under Foot (TuF to their fans) took the stage.  Danielle explained that they would’t be playing from the CD, but wanted to cover other things they had done.  They played songs their long-time fans in the area knew.  At one point, Danielle came back to the stage with a lighter and announced that it was the owner’s birthday and they even had a cake for her.  We sang “Happy Birthday” to Angel.

At the end of the set, the crowd was calling for one last song. And the band came back to do a Led Zeppelin song.  TuF started out as a Led Zeppelin cover band as they were getting started on their way to blues.  It paid the bills.  However, they do such a great job with the covers, I can see why they were so popular.

Then the night was over.  We made our way back to the hotel to crash for the night.  It was definitely worth the drive to see my favorite blues band in their hometown atmosphere.  The venue was small as was the crowd.  What a great way to see a great band.  Long live TuF.  Get out there and buy a CD after July 9.  You’ll love it.

Pictures to follow.  Tired tonight.

People waiting patiently for dinner at Stroud's.
People waiting patiently for dinner at Stroud’s.
Sign out in front of the National Trails Museum.
Sign out in front of the National Trails Museum.
Rich at the Chicago to Alton Train Station from the 1890s.
Rich at the Chicago to Alton Train Station from the 1890s.
Beautiful flowers blooming at the museum.
Beautiful flowers blooming at the museum.
We saw a deer when we first pulled up to the battlefield.
We saw a deer when we first pulled up to the battlefield.
Gravesite of Unknown Union soliders at the battlefield.
Gravesite of Unknown Union soliders at the battlefield.
Top of the battlefield overlooking the Missouri River.
Top of the battlefield overlooking the Missouri River.
Me out in front of the Trouser Mouse.
Me out in front of the Trouser Mouse.

Home Sweet Home: Day 4

Sunday morning was our last day in downtown Chicago.  We decided to go back to Yolk since was so delicious the first time.  It was full with a 15 minutes wait.  No problem.

I forgot to mention the man we had to pass each morning on our way to the restaurant.  He was an older guy, but it was really to determine his age.  Surprisingly, he was very well spoken and seemed somewhat intelligent.  He was dancing around and talking to folks as they passed.  On Saturday, we were the lady Juliet and her Romeo.  On the way back past him, we were m’lady and kind sir.  All of this was in an exaggerated English accent.  On Sunday, he addressed us as that beautiful couple.  I don’t remember the greeting he had as we left.

We were seated at the bar area where we could watch the action.  There was one guy on our side of the grill window.  He was organizing trays for the servers to pick up and take out.  Another guy on the grill side was taking the orders out of the machine and assigning them to a cook.  All of this was done in a loud shout over his shoulder without turning around.  Pretty impressive.  Of course, they were yelling and I could barely hear them over the noise of the place.  Everyone was talking over each other.  My ears were never so glad to leave.

We decided we had time to get the earlier train home.  So we packed our bags, paid the bill, and went out to catch a cab.  We walked up to the cab stand in the Hilton.  A cabby was just dropping a fare.  I’m afraid I broke etiquette and asked him to take us.  The doorman agreed to let him.  We had to pay the doorman he share of the booty to help put the bags into the trunk.  We were whisked down State St to Madison and dropped in front of the train station in a matter of minutes.  Then the cabby got his fare and his share of the tip.

We went in, purchased our tickets, and wandered out to the tracks to find the train.  Luckily, it was boarding already.  We found a car that was relatively empty and stowed our bags.  I got settled in with my magazines and Rick worked on his Sudoku.  The conductor came in and grilled the ladies behind us on the amount of luggage they had and where it had be placed.  They had managed to stuff it in behind the seats.  There were four of them with three bags a piece for an overnight adventure downtown.

I volunteered Rich to help them put some of the bags in the overhead as the conductor asked.  They really could reach up there by themselves.  They thanked Rich and praised him for being nice.  I still don’t think that made him think any better of me for volunteering him.  I’d want help though.

Rick was just pulling into the station when we arrived.  We went down the ramp and loaded into the car for the ride home.  Sascha was there and so glad to see us.  We each got a hug, but I think Rich is the one she missed the most.  She followed him around and promptly arranged herself across his feet when he sat down to his desk.  She definitely has a soft spot for Rich.

I miss walk around and getting to things, but I love my gardens, my dog, and the great outdoors.  I say this after spending an hour or so on the patio brushing the blowout from Sascha’s coat.  There is Husky hair everywhere now.  We took Sascha for a walk.  She only went after the rabbit and didn’t bother with the squirrels too much.

It’s good to be home and we have stories to tell everyone.

Sascha missed her Daddy
Sascha missed her Daddy

Sweet Home Chicago: Day 3

Saturday was our last planned day at Blues Fest. Our plans were set.  This would be my second day of waking without the help of a wet nose.  Sascha normally starts wanting out between 6:00 and 6:30.  That means prodding mom to get moving.

We got up early and headed down the street to Yolk for breakfast.  Rich had found this little gem on Yelp.  We had stopped in on Friday to check on peak times and found out we had better be in before 9:00.  We got up early and headed down.  Rich got an omelet and I had the berries and three different kinds of French toast.  After some coffee, we felt ready for the day.

We headed back to the hotel to get ready.  Our first choice for the day didn’t start until 11:30.  That gave us plenty of time to relax and enjoy ourselves.  I finished off my blog entry for Friday with the pictures I had taken.  Then we headed out to join the crowds.

The streets were definitely empty in comparison to Thursday and Friday.  We made one stop for more coffee.  Rich hadn’t reached maximum capacity on the caffeine from the earlier breakfast coffee.  After getting fortification, we continued down the Ave to the park.

Our first stop was to the Mississippi Juke Joint Stage.  Rich had found that he definitely preferred the style of blues going on there.  This was Delta blues.  First on the agenda for the day was a panel discussion on Pinetop Perkins in honor of his 100th birthday.  Now Pinetop wouldn’t technically be 100 until Monday the 10th, but this was the day to celebrate.  Pinetop died in 2011 at the age of 97.  He had wanted so much to live to be 100, but never made it.  They promised him a party anyway.

The panel consisted of Pat Morgan, who worked with Pinetop for many years; Barrelhouse Chuck, a piano player who learned from Pinetop and worked with him on stage; and Kenny “BeadyEyes” Smith, whose father played with Pinetop and who grew up knowing the man.  There were stories, Q&A, and then birthday cake with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” sung by the crowd.

I thought this was one of my favorite things of the day.  We were laughing and hearing about Pinetop and seeing some older musicians.  Bob Stroger, who played bass with Pinetop and Willie Smith in their last band, was on hand.  He had just a Blues Music Award in May for his skills on the bass.  He came up to the mike to give us a couple of stories.  Some of things said can’t be repeated in polite company.  Apparently, Pinetop loved the beautiful ladies.

As we waited for the next act to come on stage, we stretched our legs.  This gave a chance to look around the crowd.  It was still early and pretty tame at this point.  Rich wondered off to find something to drink.  Unfortunately, they were only selling Budweiser products on the grounds.  We had noticed several people with better drink products.  We figured they were sneaking them in somehow even though they were checking bags and coolers.

The Peterson Brothers took the stage next.  This is a 16 year old and 14 year old brother group you would not believe.  I have new guitar gods for my list.  Glenn Jr. is a very young guitarist with a lot of talent.  He plays lead.  Alex is the bass player.  Either one of these guys can do it well and over the top.  I was just so impressed with their style, talent, and knowledge.  You don’t normally think of bass players are guitar gods, but Alex could play that bass like no one else I’ve seen.

Sorry to go on and on, but they were so impressive and so young.  I just can’t image where they will be in 20 years.  If you ever hear of them around you, check it out.  Hey, Rose, they are based in Austin and play the Contenintal Club.  I know they’ll be in San Antonio for Juneteenth, but I’m not sure you will be.

Now we were getting hungry.  We decided to step off the grounds and get a late lunch and early dinner at Berghoff’s.  We packed up our stuff and our chairs and headed up to Adams Street again.  Berghoff’s is a very old German restaurant that also brews their own beer.  This would be an extra treat.  I love their food and it would be a chance to enjoy the beer also.  Normally, I am the DD so I don’t get to have a full pint to myself.

The lunch crowd was winding down and we ended up being in the place with only a few people.  Rich ordered the Amber to start and I followed suit.  We started out with a pretzel and dipping sauces.  It was so soft on the inside and crispy brown on the outside.  I decided on the jagerschnitzel with spatzel and red cabbage.  Rich got the rahmschnitzel with mashed potatoes and red cabbage.

There were a couple of older gentlemen next to us.  One of them commented on the pretzel and we started talking.  He didn’t know you could order such a thing here.  We talked about the beers and the food.  They eventually left us after saying have a good day.

We ate to capacity.  Rich ordered a heife weiz as his second beer.  Had to enjoy here, because there was nothing this good once we returned to the Blues Fest.  We relaxed and had a great dinner.  But then it was getting time to return for the show we had been waiting for.

We arrived back at the Juke Joint Stage to find it was filling in.  The next act was getting ready to start and we wanted to make sure we had a good place to see the stage for the last act.  We arranged our chairs and took the necessary trips before the show.

Castro Coleman and his band got started.  He was all showman.  His would be a great club show for probably the younger set.  As the show progressed, more and more people filtered in and tried to put chairs or just stand in the open spots.  For those of us sitting down, sometimes that meant that our view was blocked.  Seems like the sitting areas were not exempt from the inconsiderate who chose to stand in the way.  At least there were no shouting matches or possible fights this night.

Castro finished his show and it was on to the Howlin Wolf tribute featuring Eddie Shaw and what turned out to be a cast of characters.  That is both on and off the stage.  Eddie Shaw worked with Howlin Wolf for the last 13 years before Wolf died in 1976.  This act was to feature music and people who knew and loved Howlin Wolf over the years.

The Howlin Wolf Foundation board came on stage to talk about their efforts to remember Wolf and to advance Blues music through scholarship programs.  They raffled off some items.

At one point, a young lady in the audience started to hassle Eddie on stage.  He was shooting it back to her.  At one point, he told her, “If I had known you were running the show, I’d kept my ass at home.”  Needless to say, I believe the young lady had been drinking a little too much.

The entertainment wasn’t just on stage.  At one point, a chick (and it applies here) with red, white, and pink hair came through the crowd toward me.  When she got in front of me, she almost fell into my lap.  I managed to put my hands up and help her back to her feet.  She staggered a few more steps and stopped.  She looked at the beer in her hand and then proceeded to pour it out.  At first, I thought she had poured down the back of the chair of the guy in front of me.  Luckily, she missed and it was just short of that.  She then threw the bottle to the ground and exited stage right.

As the show progressed, a lot of younger kids began arriving at the stage.  They were all pushing forward to the stage.  It was an instant mosh pit.  Most of them didn’t seem old enough to be drinking, but were pretty blasted by this time.  A group of three girls decided to stand on the bench they had been sitting on.  Pretty soon, a couple of girls came up to join them.  One of the girls was not sober enough to even be standing on the ground.  She couldn’t stay up on the bench.  At one point, the grandmother on the bench behind them caught her from falling down on the ground.  She managed to climb back up on the bench, but was facing in the wrong direction.  They finally got her turned toward the stage, but they were holding her up.  They made it through to the end of the show.

We finally left the Juke Joint Stage and headed back to the hotel.  Dropping off our stuff and cleaning up a bit, we headed down to the bar and restaurant on the first floor.  We noticed earlier in the day that the special was going to be $5 martinis.  We figured a light snack and a drink would be good before we went off to sleep.  There was chicken liver mousse with orange marmalade and toast points.  We added the fromage plate.  They worked excellent together.  I got the Parkview martini, which was made with tequila.  Most excellent.  Rich got the French Manhattan with bourbon and then a Revolution Brewing Porter.

Then it was time to drift upstairs and put the lights out.  Oh yeah, and we went to sleep.  It was a one very full day.

We got our place at the Juke Joint Stage.
We got our place at the Juke Joint Stage.
Rich getting ready for Saturday at the Blues Fest.
Rich getting ready for Saturday at the Blues Fest.
Brithday cake for Pinetop Perkins.
Brithday cake for Pinetop Perkins.
People were eating birthday cake all over the place.
People were eating birthday cake all over the place.
Peterson Brothers on stage.  What an awesome act.
Peterson Brothers on stage. What an awesome act.
Rich did his own pose in front of Berghoff's after dinner.
Rich did his own pose in front of Berghoff’s after dinner.
Castro Coleman on stage.
Castro Coleman on stage.
This was just a shot of the crowd around during the last show.
This was just a shot of the crowd around during the last show.
Unbelieveable.  A three necked guitar and this guy played all of them!
Unbelieveable. A three necked guitar and this guy played all of them!
Eddie Shaw blowing the sax.
Eddie Shaw blowing the sax.
Eddie Shaw introducing Taildragger to the stage.
Eddie Shaw introducing Taildragger to the stage.
Taildragger was a protege of Howling Wolf's who went on to do his own blues.
Taildragger was a protege of Howling Wolf’s who went on to do his own blues.
This lady in the red skirt insisted on standing most of the time and dancing.  It got a little weird when she and her partner were making out while dancing though.
This lady in the red skirt insisted on standing most of the time and dancing. It got a little weird when she and her partner were making out while dancing though.
J.C. Smith and his band
J.C. Smith and his band
Betty Burnett, Howlin Wolf's daughter and foundation president, speaking about the efforts of the foundation.
Betty Burnett, Howlin Wolf’s daughter and foundation president, speaking about the efforts of the foundation.
They put this cool cutout of Howlin Wolf on stage.
They put this cool cutout of Howlin Wolf on stage.
Little Wolf, another protege of Howlin's, on stage.
Little Wolf, another protege of Howlin’s, on stage.
After the crowds moved in, this is mostly what I saw.
After the crowds moved in, this is mostly what I saw.
At the end, everyone was on the benches.  I tried to get the drunk girls, but you really can't tell who they are.
At the end, everyone was on the benches. I tried to get the drunk girls, but you really can’t tell who they are.
Walking back to the hotel and approaching it from the park.
Walking back to the hotel and approaching it from the park.

Sweet Home Chicago: Day 2

Friday is Day 2 of our adventures in the city.  We were not in any hurry this morning.  Rich wanted to do breakfast burritos at a place we saw last night.  So we trekked back up to Adams.  It turns out that the Taco Al Fresco was run by an Eastern European couple.  They didn’t seem to know much about what a burrito was.  After some negotiating the language differences, we got our chorizo burritos and fresh fruit.  They were surprisingly tasty.

After breakfast, we went down the street to Books a Million.  I don’t see many bookstores these days.  I wanted to browse through the shelves.  I saw lots of stuff, but nothing I had to have.  Rich found a Bill Bryson book he hadn’t read and decided to buy it.  We needed to find the restrooms and were directed out into the hallway of the main building.  There were these beautiful high-ceilinged marble walls in Art Deco.  We went downstairs to find that the locked bathrooms were for the people who worked in the building.  The free bathrooms were in the cafeteria.  Now the cafeteria was all chrome, glass and Art Deco.  It was too pretty to eat in there.

Heading back to the hotel, we took Wabash.  This lead us right past Buddy Guy’s Legends club.  There was also a Harold’s Chicken Shack.  We had wanted to try Harold’s, but most of the locations aren’t in places I felt comfortable driving.  This was an excellent find.  We finished the walk to the hotel and got our stuff for the day.  With three-legged chairs over our shoulders, we headed down to the fest.

We stopped at the Mississippi Juke Joint Stage first to listen to Terry Harmonica Bean play.  Terry comes highly recommended by Roger Stolli at Cat Head Records.  At the last Juke Joint Festival, Terry was one of the headliners.  He was all alone on stage since his band didn’t travel up from the Delta with him.  His music was awesome though.  This is what blues would sound like back in the day. We really enjoyed the show.  Roger was right about Terry.

I pulled Rich over to the Crossroads stage to hear Toronzo Cannon.  I had been enjoying the music he played on Bluesville.  I thought it might be good to see him in person.  And it was.  He was more than entertaining and gave the crowd quite a show.  He even walked off stage and down in the crowd as he played one of the numbers.  I tried to buy a CD, but they sold out very quickly.

Now the Juke Joint Stage was out in the bright sunshine.  The Crossroads Stage was deep in the trees and very shady.  I was quite warm sitting at one and a little chilly sitting at the other.  The only other problem was that I might have gotten a little sun burnt for my time listening to Terry. It is vacation after all.

We decided to get a late lunch and headed back to the hotel to drop our stuff.  Then it was back to Harold’s for some chicken.  This was blues music after all.  What’s blues without some chicken.  The menu had chicken livers, which are my favorite.  Rich got chicken and okra.  There were hushpuppies also and I can’t resist those.  We ate our fill and watched the bicycle cops pull over people for using the bike lane as an extra traffic lane.  Never saw a cop on a bicycle pull over a pickup truck before.

After lunch, we headed back to the fest.  At the Juke Joint Stage, John Primer and his band were just coming on.  The place was packed and people kept on coming in.  This is in the afternoon and people had been drinking for a while.  A small group of people came in and stood in front of the group where we were sitting.  Pretty soon, there were word exchange about blocked views and it almost came to blows.  I was seeing a lot of inconsiderate behavior on the part of a lot of people.

Then there was drunk chick was giving her husband (or boyfriend) a lap dance with practically every song.  She kept standing up dancing and making some very erotic moves.  I know she was getting into the music, but I didn’t pay extra to see any of that.  They finally left and it got back to being a PG rated show.

The main show at the Pavilion was starting up.  We picked up our chairs and joined about a billion other people over there.  Now this is where we had our first date.  Or I should correct that to say where I made it my first date with Rich.  He just wanted someone to go down to the festival with him and I was the only one who raised my hand.  I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to really ask me out, so I let him pay for everything.  Luckily, we talked the entire day without running out of too much to say.  I had a good time.  Rich must have also, because he called 3 months later.  I was on the road and he is a little bit cautious to jump into things.

As I said, a billion people showed up in the field right outside the Pavilion.  We had our spots so we could see the big screen.  Ernest “Guitar” Roy was first up.  He had played the very first Blues Fest back in 1983.  I had come to see Irma Thomas though.  She has such a wonderful voice.  She was joking about the cool weather.  She had to go out and buy a coat since it was 90 when she left home in Louisiana earlier in the day.  Chicago has that way about.

The only bad thing about the show was all the cigar smoke.  I swear, it smelled like a bunch of skunks.  I don’t know what they were smoking, but it was worst cigar smoke I’ve ever smelled.

Motorola has a set of offices on Michigan Ave.  I never knew where the building was until today.  Sitting at the Pavilion, you can clearly see the Motorola sign above the stage and the trees.  So the sun is setting between the buildings, I see the Motorola sign, I’m listening to Irma Thomas belting out soul songs, and the air stinks.  Maybe it was time to go.

We came back to the hotel once again to drop off our stuff.  We thought we’d go over to Buddy Guy’s, grab some food, and hopefully listen to some blues.  Unfortunately, it was packed at the tables.  The guy at the door said standing room only.  I hadn’t been there so I convinced Rich to go in.  He got a beer and we listened to the music.  It was OK, but now I can say I’ve been there.  We soon headed out and went back up by the hotel to Kitty O’Shea’s.  We got some fish and chips and a couple of beers.

We were waiting on food and talking.  I asked Rich if he was going into the Intel house there at the Blues Fest.  He said he knew enough about technology.  The lady sitting besides us chimed in that she wished she knew more.  We talked a bit and then her dinner mate returned to the table.  I could help but listen to them a bit.  She appeared to be an editor trying to improve her networking.  The older gentleman appeared to be an editor for one of the local publishing houses.  Printers Row is about two blocks west of where we are staying.  I thought that was cool that I understand what they were saying.

From there, we called it a night.  My feet hurt from walking.  My ears are full of music still.  I think it was a pretty full day.  We get up and do it again tomorrow.

This sculpture is called Agora.  It's all metal fabricated by a Polish sculptress in Poland.  Pretty cool.
This sculpture is called Agora. It’s all metal fabricated by a Polish sculptress in Poland. Pretty cool.
I love the legs!
I love the legs!
Out standing among the legs.  Makes you feel like a kid among the adults again.
Out standing among the legs. Makes you feel like a kid among the adults again.
Sign for the Agora sculpture.
Sign for the Agora sculpture.
In one of the parks on the southend, we found all these metal sculptures.  I liked the tailpipes, but Rich said I couldn't do this as home.
In one of the parks on the southend, we found all these metal sculptures. I liked the tailpipes, but Rich said I couldn’t do this as home.
Looking down Michigan Ave and there is the Motorola building.
Looking down Michigan Ave and there is the Motorola building.
Motorola on Michigan Ave.
Motorola on Michigan Ave.
Terry Harmonica Bean on stage at the Mississippi Juke Joint stage.
Terry Harmonica Bean on stage at the Mississippi Juke Joint stage.

Toronzo Cannon on Crossroads stage

Kicking back and listening to John Primer on stage.
Kicking back and listening to John Primer on stage.
I'm standing outside of Buddy Guy's Legends.  Little bigger than a juke joint, but not quite the same.
I’m standing outside of Buddy Guy’s Legends. Little bigger than a juke joint, but not quite the same.
Harold's Chicken Shack just across the street from Buy Guy's.
Harold’s Chicken Shack just across the street from Buy Guy’s.
We were on the Surrealist floor at the hotel.  This Dali print was in our room.  See I have a dog here too.
We were on the Surrealist floor at the hotel. This Dali print was in our room. See I have a dog here too.

Sweet Home Chicago: Day 1

Ah, vacation.  It’s a short one, but hopefully we’ll have some fun and adventure.  To get things started, we headed out to breakfast at The Canteen in Barrington.  I keep seeing the place when we drive by and hear about the great breakfast they serve.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt when they appear to have a line out the door most of the time.  Time to find out.

It was raining pretty good on Thursday morning.  I was worried about standing in the rain just have eggs, bacon and toast.  We were lucky that there was no line waiting.  We were able to walk right in and grab a seat.  We tried to sit at a booth, but they had crammed this one in pretty tight.  We ended up at a table.  No one seemed to sit in that booth for some strange reason.

From the outside, the building appears very tiny.  Once inside, you see why.  It is an old Quonset hut from WWII era.  It was roomier inside than expected.  The sign over the U shaped counter in the back proudly proclaims their establishment in 1947.  I had read that it was Greek joint, but I wasn’t expecting the Greek family who were running and working the place.  They were a lot of fun.

We ordered up our breakfast.  I got the Chuck Wagon skillet with all the meats, gravy, potatoes with toast on the side.  Rich got a ham and cheese omlete with toast.  Turns out, they were right about it being a great breakfast.  I think the combination of environment, people, and food made it a great experience.

Back home, we finished our errands and packing.  It was time to catch the train going downtown.  We left Rich’s truck in the parking lot for Rick to pick up later.  Come to think of it, I don’t think he ever answered the text message or Facebook note about confirmation of doing that.  That boy!

Once in the city, we decided not to hoof the hundred of concrete canyon miles down to the hotel.  We grabbed and cab and took the scenic route.  We are staying at the Essex Inn right on Michigan Avenue right across the park.  It wasn’t a bad deal.  The Essex is one of the older hotels that have been redone.  Since everything is pushing more and more south along Michigan, most of the existing buildings are getting new lives.  At least we could walk to most things easily.  Just not the train station.

For dinner, we walked up Michigan to Adams.  Then we headed over to The Elephant and Castle.  It’s an English pub.  I’ve wanted to try it for a while, so this was my chance.  We grabbed a couple of beers and ordered up food.  Rich got the Steak and Ale Pie and I got the Beef Yorkshire pudding.  It all tasted wonderful.  I still say Rich makes the best Yorkshire pudding, which does he for every Christmas.

Back out on the sidewalk, we headed down to Millennium Park for the beginning of the musical festivities.  We stopped by Cloud Gate (better known as the Bean) and got our picture in the shiny surface and then over to Pritzker Pavilion for some entertainment.  We were able to score some seats, which was good since we left our chairs at the hotel.  The Blues Kids were on stage.  The schools have started programs to teach and promote the Blues among the younger generations.  These kids were from all over the country and here to practice their performances.  They were great.

Next up was Jamiah on Fire and the Red Machine.  Three very young guys came up out and set for their performance.  Turns out, Jamiah is only 18.  General Pork Chop on the drums is 14 while The Bassman on the bass was 12.  They put on quite a show.  Jamiah gets his nickname from his playing style, which he did in his signature closing song.  The group plays Jimi Hendrix’s Fire.  Jamiah can hold his own as he plays the guitar from every possible angle and the audience was giving up the love for his performance.

Now it’s time for the show I’m really here to see.  Shemekia Copeland took the stage at 8:00.  I’ve been listening to her sing on XM and hearing everyone talk about her.  She lives up to the hype.  Shemekia is worth the wait.  I love her voice and she can belt it out.  She proved it by stepping away from the mike and singing.  I could still hear, no matter faint it was.

Halfway through the show, a guy and a couple of girls sat down in front of us.  Of course, the girl with the tall hat that looked like a piece of old carpet sat in front of me.  I had to keep leaning right to see around that thing.  Then a very young guy asks to come into our row.  He sits down right next to me.  The entire rest of the row to my right was empty.  So I’m leaning out to see around the hat and trying not to touch the guy sitting next to me.  It was a little strange.

Shemekia’s band was excellent.  They have quite a unique sound.  She brought out a young man, Quinn Sullivan, for a couple of numbers.  She didn’t say, but I assume he will be a great addition to someone’s band soon.  After one encore, the night was done.  It was downtown Chicago on a Thursday night.  They had to shut down by 9:00.

We walked back to the hotel.  The temperature wasn’t that cold, but the wind was whistling by you.  I was frozen by the time we got back to our room.  I didn’t dress quite appropriately for the weather.  Silly me.  By the time I could warm up again, I was just too tired to head back out.  I’ll try to plan better for tomorrow night.  We’re only a block or so from Buddy Guy’s Legend.  I have to say I stepped inside there for a while on this trip.

My friend, Kim, wished us a good time on Facebook.  Her son, Chris, then tells us to have a TERRIBLE time.  She tells him to apologize.  If you know them, you would find it funny.  I had to write back this morning to let Chris know that I really tried to have a TERRIBLE time, but it didn’t work.  It was too much fun.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that I’m having a great time with one of my pastime activities.  People watching has been the greatest.  I’ve seen and heard some of the most wonderful things.  I know, I should be careful.  I’m probably on someone else’s people watching list for some of the things I’ve done.  The only good thing about crowds are the things that people do around you.  More people watching tomorrow.

Now on to Day 2.

Essex Inn on Michigan
Essex Inn on Michigan
Elephant and Castle
Elephant and Castle
Cloud Gate or better known as the Bean
Cloud Gate or better known as the Bean
A good reflection of us.
A good reflection of us.
Blues Kids on stage
Blues Kids on stage
Shemekia on stage
Shemekia on stage