Saturday, August 06, 2016

Memphis '98

Following my last blog entry about the death of William Brown of the Mad Lads, I've been going through photos of my trip to Memphis in 1998, my second time there. It was the first time that I got to see the great Bobby Rush in action. He was at the Daisy Theatre on Beale Street and in those days he had four girl dancers. His act was rude, lewd and thoroughly enjoyable - just as it still is to day. Here are a couple of photos of him at the Daisy.
I drove up to Memphis from New Orleans with John Howard and we made our way to the Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale, where James Govan was in residence. Here he is in action.
While we were there we went to a reception ahead of the Handy Awards attended by Otis Clay among others. The Handy Awards themselves featured Ruth Brown and Robert Cray as joint hosts. The highlights of a fabulous evening included a duet with Keb Mo and Honey Boy Edwards, a great set by Johnny Adams (the last time I saw him before he died) and a wonderful duet with Bonnie Raitt and Rufus Thomas. Later we went to a blues club called the Junkyard where Kevin Kimbrough, son of bluesman Junior Kimbrough, was playing. We also went to the Beale Street festival where the stars included the Holmes Brothers, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Ruby Wilson, Shirley Caesar, the Doobie Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, the Jelly Roll Kings, the Neville Brothers, J Blackfoot, Steve Earle and Robert Cray, plus Anson Funderburg and Sam Myers (pictured). 
While we were in town we had a burger at Sun Studios Cafe (Jon Cleary was there) and also made our way to Al Green's church. We sat listening to the gospel music at the service for a couple of hours, while the collection plate came round several times, before they announced that the Reverend Green would not be there today!
One of the highlights, as already mentioned, was our visit to Royal Studios. Willie Mitchell was sitting at the entrance with his feet up. He was very welcoming and we went through to the recording studio with Donnie Mitchell where William Brown showed us around, before Otis Clay walked in with Scott Billington. Here's a photo of me with Willie Mitchell.
While we were at the Rum Boogie Cafe we bumped into Lee Wilkinson, Tony Papard and Keith Woods, Here they are with John Howard (left) and another guy we were chatting to.
At that time Stax Studios was just a memory, having been demolished. The only indication of where it had been was this marker. Thankfully the Stax Museum is now keeping its memory alive.
Finally, here's one of me at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park where Elvis made many appearances and which still hosts music concerts today.


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