Monday 8th. July 2013
Memphis to Nashville
I get up craving fruit which I have not spotted for days and days, so walk over the road to a deli in the Peabody – just sweet cakes and coffee… wander in to the posh restaurant across the hall and enjoy some fresh fruit, berries and yoghurt, coffee etc., excellent service, mood lighting, jazz music and a smattering of men in expensive suits talking deals, power mums in expensive running gear with multiple offspring and a music industry / rock star type with long white hair, aviator shades and Mickey Rourke physicality and demeanour.
I pack and rush to the Gibson factory for the 11am tour, only to be told I should have booked because it is full. Momentarily glum but only got myself to blame. I peruse the large range of brand new Gibsons in the retail section but I’m left feeling mildly deflated. Somehow the old guitars have personality. These babies a just virgins – no battle scars.
I order a cup of Gumbo around the corner in Beale St. This is one of the most tasty meals ever. I could live on this stuff. Cab to the Greyhound depot on the outskirts of town and I’m highly entertained by the super sized imposing driver. His patter goes something like this…..
“Yo – lasson up y’all. My name is Opa-raider Easton. Are y’all aware of da Mercy Exits in dis coach? We have axe-den an dis “exit A” here gonna fall right off da side udder coach, so y’all can gedout reel farce. We abouda depart one fiddy far (1:55). Apologise 4 da delay. You wan’ raahd on Big Daddy’s coach y’all gonna baahd budder rools. Ain’t no Smokin’, Al Gahol or Drergs on ma coach. If you do deez thangs ah garr-an-tee ah will pull ova da coach an’ call da Stade Poh-Lease. Y’all be sho’ bowdat.”
Fast forward to the end of the trip and it’s a traffic jam so we’re arriving late, despite behaving ourselves under the watchful eye of Big Daddy. I decide to give the Bluebird Cafe a miss and go straight to 3rd. & Lindsley for the Time Jumpers. Mikey & Gretta, plus Paul and Glenda from Born ‘n Bred turn up. As an added bonus, singer Dawn Sears is back on deck, after being told two weeks ago she is battling cancer. She sings up a storm evoking yelps and hollers from the crowd.
During a break I visit the gentlemen's convenience and encounter a portly blind guy from Texas in a red check shirt bumping into doors. Minutes later he appears on stage and sings up a small tornado of emotion. It's hard to keep up.
Another guest singer and the surprise for the night is the legendary Earl Klugh doing an instrumental duet on his nylon string guitar with Vince peeling off some bright and cheerful answers on his electric Gibson.
In an attempt to get some good photos I hang from balconies, squeeze next to tables and crawl around the floor. I get mistaken for a professional photographer with people handing me their cards asking for photos – must be something to do with the black shirt and ergonomic ignorance.
We all have a wonderful penultimate evening in Smashville, entertaining a local couple brave enough to sit at our table, charming the waitress with our gauche repartee and being endlessly blown away by the great music.
One more day to go