Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Live Music, Drinks to Go, and Neon Lights

On two nights of our trip, Mom actually pushed bedtime back to a respectable hour. The only thing that kept her awake past 10 pm besides arriving at a hotel at 10:01 was the draw of Beale Street in downtown Memphis. Door-to-door bars with live blues music and alcoholic beverages seemed like the thing all the cool kids would do on vacation and so we did it too. We stayed in Memphis two nights, the only stop on the trip that we didn't have to pack up all our junk in the hotel room immediately after waking in the morning, and we hit the town both nights. Never closing down the bar though; I leave that for home. Jeez, you'd think with all the time I spend in bars I'd actually drink liquor. Not since that ultra-embarrassing night in January of 2006 though. Oh well. Back to my point.

Beale Street is a pretty cool place to visit at night. Gift shops are open late, there is music coming from every other bar, and a "Northerner" will be astounded by the different cuisines advertised in the windows of different restaurants. The first night, we started at a place called the Rum Boogie Cafe, where we did break down and purchase a CD. It's still in my suitcase. This is in no means a testament to the music on the CD, but only that I've been too lazy to unpack the clean clothes and all the souvenirs. School going back in session may have something to do with that or the fact that I have screwed up my right shoulder so badly the thought of bringing non-necessities into my apartment makes the pain even worse. Heaven forbid to think of the pain if I lifted something heavy.

But back to the Rum Boogie Cafe. When we sat down, Mom said she was going to the bar to get a drink and would get me a soda. As she returned, she looked at me and was aghast to find that I had a couple of strands of Mardi Gras beads. My mother, who should know me just a little by now, exclaimed, "What did you do to get those?" Her accusatory tone was full of shock and I felt like I was 13 again.

My response was simple. "I sat here." She didn't believe me until the man leading the band noticed her and threw two strands of beads her way. She was then quite content with my story and was thrilled that she had beads. Ah, the ways we amuse ourselves.

I think I enjoyed this bar the best. The music was excellent and it had a good crowd. There were dancers, but also enough room for dancers. Which is always a plus because the experience of having a drunken swing dancer's ass slamming into your table/back/elbow if positioned correctly is not my idea of happiness. To each their own.

Without further ado, I present the Rum Boogie Cafe visually. Don't mind me, I was born with a camera in hand. (Okay, if you believe that, mind sending me $1,000?)
RBC Stax signRum Boogie Cafe Show 2Rum Boogie Cafe inside
Mom at Rum Boogie CafeNot a great picture, but you can see the beads.
Rum Boogie Cafe Show 1Rum Boogie Cafe signBeale St (5)Beale St (4)

From the Rum Boogie Cafe, Mom and I headed to BB King's place.

BB Kings signBB Kings ShowBB Kings Show 3

And, of course, random images from walking not "10-feet off of" Beale.
Memphis Style RibJazz Blues NeonGumbo signmartini barFork SignBBQ Ribs signPut some south neon

Beale Street

Oh, did I mention the crowd as we tried to leave BB King's place? As we were leaving, I thought about purchasing this T-shirt I saw as I walked in. I was trying to ask the girl at the door about it, but there was a large commotion and a line to get out of the bar. At first, I figured it was because the band just stopped playing and maybe this was normal. It wasn't. I finally got the girl's attention and had this conversation with her:

Her: Oh my god! Oh my gawd! He shook my hand. That movie star, Steven Seagal, just shook my hand! Oh my gawd! Oh!
Me: How much is that pink T-shirt?

As it turns out, Steven Seagal was just outside the building. I was not excited. Mom did take a picture of him, only because Scott does like this man's movies. The picture didn't turn out well and neither of us really cared. I'll just say the man, whom I never found attractive to begin with, looks old. And looks like taking beatings for a living and performing martial arts didn't help him age well. Oh well. It was time to head back to the hotel and get some sleep.

The second night on Beale Street was filled with loud engines. There was some sort of event with motorcycles taking place. None of these pictures have been edited yet, so forgive me if the cropping is not the best. While I was working on this post, I realized that the second night's pictures ended up missing my editing process. Whoops! The evening was fun. Mom and I shopped, bought tons of gifts, and caught a bit more music at a place called Wet Willies. I ended up being the dullard at the bar, ordering the "Weak Willie," virtually a grape slushy. We listened a band play there, fascinated with how all the members of the band watched the keyboardist for their cues. Some women requested the band play, "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone," and the keyboardist did a good job of faking the words. He was pretty far off, but it was recognizable and a lot of fun.

On the way out of this bar, we noticed the Hard Rock Cafe. It was closed, unfortunately. I wouldn't have minded a T-shirt from Memphis. We headed back to the car and was approached by a man who wanted money. He was probably the most interesting weird person we ran across on the trip, but paled in comparison to Shrunken Head Man. Oh well!

Beale St (3)Beale St (8)Beale St (6)Beale St (21)Beale St (16)Beale St (15)Beale St (14)

We did have a ton of fun on Beale Street. I liked staying up late and listening to live music. Mom liked the music and the atmosphere.