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My muddy music fest tradition

May 3rd, 2011

Beale Street Music Festival ~ a tradition

php2nxzxypmOur fourth annual trip to Memphis in May for the Beale Street Music Fest felt like going home. This year Jeff and I were excited to share our muddy music tradition with our daughter Emily and her boyfriend Jacob. I love the South and keeping traditions!

The best part of our annual pilgrimage is staying with our fun loving friend Erin Lee, who first opened her home to my family in West Point, MS, and now opens her home in Memphis anytime Jeff and I want to visit. Erin is like family to us and is truly a non judgmental friend no matter what we are weathering in life.

php0nw7kkamThe weather was the big new this year for the Beale Street Music Fest! Friday and Saturday we stayed dry for the first time in four years. It was wonderful! However, Sunday did not disappoint those who bought a new pair of Memphis in May boots, another tradition for the fashion divas at mud fest.

Enjoying the festival

We didn’t last long on Friday night. The sunset was amazing over the Mississippi! We heard a little Manchester Orchestra and Cake, but missed Jason Maraz. We just couldn’t hold up after a long day of traveling.

phpl9ykwvamThe weather and lineup was perfect on Saturday!

  • I saw Amy Lavere for the first time. Amy is a spunky little gypsy jazz chick who plays a double base and writes beautifully witty songs. She sang a couple songs that really resonated with me, and a few that Jimbo Mathus wrote for her.
  • Jimbo Mathis is another Americana, gypsy jazz, blues musician who is known as a folklorist. Jeff and I heard Jimbo last year at Ground Zero in Clarksdale preforming Mosquitoville, a tale based on local Quitman County history. We were looking forward to hearing him again and was not disappointed. His show rocked the Blues tent!
  • Jeff and I had to see Jerry Lee Lewis, wanting to see how the “mean old man” was holding up. This year Jerry Lee’s sister Linda Gail Lewis, accompanied by her daughter, hit the stage to preform a couple of Jerry’s songs, obviously inheriting his talent. Jerry Lee Lewis looked great and seemed to be really into it this year.
  • I lucked out with an awesome spot to see Mumford and Sons. Saturday night sold out with a truly electrifying crowd, a sea of people on the banks of the muddy Mississippi stretching out from the Budweiser stage to the front gates. Mumford and Sons were the highlight of my trip! We had planned to see Ludacris and John Mellencamp, but went back to Erin’s because the crowd was just too much (even for me).

phpmo9fh7pmNot really ready to call it a night, Jeff, Erin and I hit Beale Street which was just as packed as the festival. To escape the crowds, we ducked into the juke joint attached to the Rum Boogie and were extremely fortunate to hear Patrick Dodd, who rocked his faded blue Fender with a mixture of blues and some old school Jimmy Hendrix! I absolutely love the local talent in Memphis! A few musicians showed up to the juke joint with their instruments. Patrick invited a sax, trumpet and an electric guitar musician to join him for an impromptu performance. Wow, another highlight to my trip!

php34f1tmpmSevere weather on Sunday prevented us from heading to the festival until it was safe. The mud fest must go on! I had a blast dancing in the mud, shuffling between Ziggy Marley, Saving Abel and Al Kapone. CeeLo Green was worth all the mud dancing! His voice didn’t carry as well, but he still rocked Crazy

“I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind…there was something so pleasant about that place” Love that song!

and then finally “F” You. Despite the horrible weather delays, it was another great day!

Sunday night a new tradition was born! We ended a perfect festival weekend at Itta Bena’s, a fine dining restaurant above BB King’s. Closing down the joint, we ordered Crab Bisque, hot rolls and Southern Pecan Beer. MMM! Erin and I danced at BB Kings to some soul music and ended the night with a walk around downtown Memphis to see what all the locals were up to.

No trip to Memphis is complete without breakfast at The Blue Plate, one of our favorite traditions. We toasted to another fun trip and a wonderful breakfast.

Beale Street Festival Observations

Social Media was in the house! This year we used the Beale Street Festival Facebook page to stay on top of the developments, even though we didn’t trust their weather announcements on Sunday.  It was fun to hear what people were saying about their experiences at the festival.  My favorite snark….

Kim Walker
‎…all because “Memphis in June” doesn’t have a ring to it…
Sunday at 4:06pm · Like ·
4 people like this.

While most people were positive, some complained about the lineup and the lack of AT&T coverage. I hope they will utilize their Facebook page even more next year, posting more updates. I also enjoyed the pics and videos posted, although I was a bit envious of the press pass holders. I really think bloggers should be considered for press passes next year.

6_2011_bsmf_poster-72dpi1John Henshall, a friend from Australia, has attended past Beale Street Music Festivals. John observed the evolution of the Beale Street Music Festival in the posters by George Hunt, which clearly illustrates how the festival’s roots are in Blues musicians and now features a lineup that he wasn’t familiar with. I had to admit that I didn’t know many of names either. We wondered if the target audience has shifted to a younger audience?

Plans for next year ~ the tradition continues

Next year Jeff and I will be even more prepared for the mud fest. Jeff, the original cat herder is always thinking logistics. We came prepared with our boots, rain gear, etc. This year we were given a little back pack from Nationwide, which inspired Jeff to create a “survival kit” for the festival that will fit into this little nap sack.

Jeff’s Memphis In May ~ Beale Street Music Fest Survival Kit

  • Large piece of plastic to sit on
  • Ponchos (rain gear) & umbrellas
  • Little plastic bags for phone & wallet
  • Travel tissues for the Port-O-Potties / maybe even a few wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Beer coozie
  • Little light weight over the shoulders nap sack

Regardless of the weather or an unfamiliar lineup, I thoroughly enjoyed the diverse music, discovered a few new bands that I will follow, had a blast with Memphis friends and heard some fantastic Blues on Beale Street. We’ll be back next year, It feels like coming home and is a cherished tradition!

Do you have a favorite music festival or a yearly pilgrimage that has become a tradition?  Please share your stories with me!

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Savor the journey…love the people!

March 27th, 2009

Road Trip…Memphis & New Orleans

 

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Memphis FriendsFinally back to normal (what ever that is) from my trip to Memphis and New Orleans.  My husband, Jeff, and our good friend Suz took a road trip this month. By now you probably got it…I love to travel.  Although the fourteen hour drive back from New Orleans wiped me out, I would not have changed a single thing…it is all apart of the journey.

Our journey first took us to Memphis, TN.  We stayed with a dear, long time friend, Erin.  Erin lives in a downtown neighborhood of Memphis in an incredible three story condo with a balcony that overlooks the Mississippi River.  I love hanging out on her balcony watching the sun rise and set.  It is the kind of place I dream of living in.  Another Memphis friend, Willfredo, lives next door to Erin and just opened Revolution Salon.  Willfredo took one look at my hair and insisted on working his magic.  A great start to an evening of dancing at the Rum Boogie (where you eat.drink.boogie.repeat) and then off to Silky’s to hear dueling pianos.  I have great memories of that evening.  I love experiencing the culture of other cities.  But what I love most is people….I love my friends in Memphis and getting a chance to spend time with them!  After eating breakfast at the BluePlate Cafe, the biggest and best breakfast in Memphis, we had to say our good byes.  Bitter sweet, as we are on our way to New Orleans, another favorite city.

Jackson Square

New Orleans has a culture all it’s own.  I love Jackson Square, music in the air, the street performers, the European architecture, cajun food, seafood, beignets, Zydeco music, dancing until wee hours of the night, being called “darling” and “honey”, the sweet sound of a southern accent, the garden district, the wharehouse district, the balconies that are draped with beautiful flowers and ivy, southern hospitality and most of all…the people!  

 

100_0968We met up with Jeff’s parents Ginger and Paul, and their friend Dave from Houston.  Th100_09442is has become a tradition since the weekend Katrina hit.  Families and friends met to surprise Paul on his 60th birthday.  We began our stay in New Orleans right by having dinner at Desire an Oyster bar in the Royal Sonesta Hotel.  The food is great!  However, our waitress Joann, who hugs us all like old lost friends every time we eat there, is definitely greater.  She is a survivor of Katrina…I love her.  And to top it off…Suz displayed bravery by trying an Oyster. 

Truth Be Told….I wouldn’t even try an Oyster!

100_1541Some of our favorite restaraunts… Franksmakes a great Muffaletta and has the best balcony view where you can soak in the music from two different patio restaurants.  A strong tradition is eating Barbecue Shrimp at Pascal Manales.  Located in the heart of a Garden District neighborhood.  This classy restaraunt brings out huge white bibs to tie on before they serve the shrimp that floats in a bowl of butter.  Their bread pudding is also the best in New Orleans. 

Although Bourbon St. is lined with great bars, our favorite is at Tropical Isle.  Our 100_14051favorite Zydeco band plays at 5pm. Waylon starts the evening off right and is hilarious!  Timmy gets all the gals to play the washboard with him.  We didn’t get to see Timmy this trip.  But spent a whole evening dancing and trying out the washboard with Waylon’s Dad and celebrated my birthday in style.  We met a fun loving couple who has an apartment on Royal.  I told them of my love of New Orleans and how I dream of living there someday.  They promised to help me find an apartment when I am ready to make the move.  Another local couple that regularly shows up at the Tropical Isles with their pet monkey…that monkey is so cute.  Suz had fun singing with the band and decides that a birthday spanking was in order for me….eeks.  Yes, Suz broke the paddle on the final 39th whack.  Definitely left a mark.  I left with a cool paddle signed by everyone in the bar though.  Once again, it is the people that made it special.  I love the band, my new friends and my special souvenir. 

100_11371Various experiences:  We met a Harley Dude who lives in New Orleans.  He parked his Harley on Bourbon St. near the Harely Bar.  He said at least three times, “Thank you for coming”.  Again, it’s the people.  Suz was choosen to participate in a street magic show.  She did a great job!  There are numerous street performers who fill the streets of the French Corner with music and atmosphere.  This is how they make a living.  I enjoyed the artistic buses found throughout New Orleans. On the River Walk I found one that spoke to me and depics my life quest….A journey of Change.  “Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.”  A Ride of A Lifetime!100_1070

I found myself savoring each moment of the trip.  I walked the streets wanting to ech the memory of the architecture and music in the air in my mind.  Most of all, I want to cheerish my memories of spending time with friends both new and familair. 

We said good bye to New Orleans around 8am.  We had a long drive ahead of us.  I took advantage of the time to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  A quote jumped off the paige at me…”they were seeking the treasure of their destiny, without wanting actually to live out their destiny.”  Wow!  Now that I am home, I wonder how often I will savor each moment of my life journey?  Will I remember to actually live it out?  Hopefully I will live out this leg of my journey as much as I do when I journey to awe-inspiring cities and make life long friends.

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