Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Orleans to Memphis

The final leg of our US road trip began with a drive  north from New Orleans towards Jackson through mostly back roads. We continued our quest for blues markers by stopping off at a one horse town called Montecello where one is supposed to be located, but we couldn't find it and no one there knew of its existence. That evenng in Jackson we went back to Hal and Mal's for the Monday blues jam. This tme soul singer Dorothy Moore was there, celebrating her recent birthday. She sang one number (Baby What You Want Me To Do) but there were a lot of would be stars hoping for their chance to shine, some better than others. Of the regulars there, Pat Brown hosted and gave great renditions of You Were Stepping Out, Rock Me Baby and Make Me Yours, The Rock was soulful on Nine Pound Steel and got the crowd dancing with The Twist, and King Edward and his band provided excellent backing to all the acts. Once Dorothy left the crowd thinned out and things got a little chaotic with so many would be performers, but we got to eat a slice of Dorothy's birthday cake and it was another good evening, especially for a Monday.
Next day we continued our travels through Mississippi, checking out blues markers and having a down home soul food lunch in Houston, before arriving at Tupelo, birthplace of Elvis. There's  a visitors centre next to the tiny shack that was his childhood home, plus a couple of markers, none of which were there the last time I visited in 1998, and there's also a life size statue of the King in a nearby park.
Back in Memphis, our last stop, we went down to Beale Street to see Earl the Pearl once again. Next morning we visited the home of 92 year old Quinton Clauch, the man who founded both the Hi and Goldwax labels and worked with Sam Phillips at Sun. He's still active and is currently promoting a CD by a singer called Alonzo Pennington. I will be writing up the interview on The Vinyl Word soon.
After leaving Quinton's house we had lunch at Miss Girlie's soul food place and then went to the National Civil Rights Museum. Located at the former Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King was shot, this was my first visit, as it had been closed on previous visits to Memphis. It's a very impressive museum with much to see and well worth a look. Our final night in Memphis brought another visit to Beale Street, where we went to see Preston Shannon's mainly soul act at B B King's Blues Club,
Today it is back to the UK with some great memories and quite a bit of vinyl. I will be putting a selection of photos up over the coming days so watch this space!
Nick Cobban


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