Monday, May 9, 2011

Postscript: Damn Right We Got the Blues!

Well, the long anticipated Blues Trip of 2011 is over, and right behind it come the typical feelings that follow a trip you’ve been talking about and planning and looking forward to for two-plus years: sadness, great memories, and the hope that you might ever have another trip half as good.

As my own form of therapy, I’d like to review the trip and highlights here.

First off, it was great traveling with Coop. Any time you undertake something like this, you’re a little hesitant about spending that much time with someone; but I thought we were very compatible as travel partners, and it was awesome catching up on 25 years of stuff that we had gotten behind on. Terrific times, too many laughs to recount, and some great guitar lessons. Thanks Dan for a really good week!

Now to the highlights.

Best City: New Orleans. I’m not much of a live in the past guy, but if I could change one thing about the trip it would be to spend another day there. I feel like we barely scratched the surface.

Biggest Disappointment: Memphis. For being the blues capitol of the world, there is very little blues there! Granted we were there early in the week, but I still thought the music and lack of anything going on was surprising. That said, Memphis did produce our…

Best Band: Big Mack Johnson. I’ve covered these guys in detail previously, but amazing guitars, vocals, arrangements, musical imagination, et al. We saw these guys three nights in a row and for a cover band two things immediately jumped out: there were very few repeats in there repertoire, and the repeats that there were had a completely different sound, feel and musical personality. Try playing The Weight on back to back nights and feeling like it’s a completely different song. Loved ‘em.

Best Surprise: finding the blues for the first time on the trip, in Nashville of all places. Kudos to the Stacy Mitchert (sp?) band for their big horns, six string bass, and brassy guitar playing by the namesake. These guys were terrific, and ironically enough, they play the riverboat in Evansville about once a quarter. I’ll be seeing them again.

Best Music Scene: Frenchman Street in New Orleans. Broadest range of music, best acts, most fun and laid back atmosphere…this was a terrific find. From Washboard Chaz and his old timey three piece band (and my personal favorite lyric of the week: “Oh yeah buddy I gots to go, yeaah I know…”), to a full blown nine piece brass band, to a rockabilly group that was clearly but proficiently making their first appearance together, this was an awesome two nights of New Orleans music. If you go, don’t miss Checkpoint Charlie’s or The Spotted Cat, my two favorite spots.

Best Food: Ironically enough on our first night out—the “Cajun Italian” meal on the second floor of the Apple Barrel. I have no idea of the restaurant’s name, but this was good hard core Italian fare, and the place smelled wonderful.

Best Hotel: As if this is even close. The Westin in Memphis not only gave us the best rate of any of our three “city” stops, it was far and away the best property…and of course there was the ultimate perk of the complimentary Gibson guitars at check in. BIG fan of Westin.

Best Non-Trip Related Event: Yeah, I just had to throw this in: Alex’s graduation from Indiana University. :-) Very proud of my little girl and her achievements…it doesn’t seem like almost 17 years since that pic of her sitting in my lap at the Kindergarten Dad’s night…love you Alex!

Well, I guess that wraps it up. Thanks to everyone who followed us, and thanks to Coop for making it a blast. Next stop Austin!

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