Day Forty One – National Civil Rights Museum

Day Forty One – National Civil Rights Museum

Blues Idiom – Hokum – A lighthearted subcategory of urban blues called Hokum was popular in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.Hokum songs were uptempo, funny and on the raunchy side. Songs like, ‘Please Warm My Weiner,’ relied heavily on double entendre and were about sex, drugs, or some illicit combination thereof.

We are out and about exploring Beale Street by mid morning. Beale Street is world renowned for it’s blues music clubs and bars. I noticed straight away that the music and eating houses have extended further down Beale Street. A good sign that things are looking up. Last time I was in the downtown part of Memphis it seemed like it was struggling.
We had a feed at around 11 at Miss Polly’s. I went for steak and eggs and sweet iced tea.

Our aim today was to got to the National Civil Rights Museum located at the site of the Lorraine Motel, the infamous and now sacred Motel where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jnr. Was assassinated This is my third visit to the museum. I always get very moved when I look over the exhibits, that explore the history of slavery, jim crow law* and the civil rights movement. The museum has been remodelled and is even better that the last time I was here. It really is a must visit for anyone that comes to the U.S.A. In the interim check out

I am sure the girls found their visit very moving and at the same time inspiring. Next we walked back to Sth Main Street which is a mall of 7 to8 blocks. I want to go and pick up our Blues Foundation Awards night tickets for tomorrow night. The tickets can be picked up at the Convention Centre. As I mentioned earlier, how I was pleased to see the improvements of Beale Street, even now more so for the Mall. There are a lot of new businesses opened and the place just feels more vibrant. I have yet to see a pan-handler or have I been hit up for a spare dollar. We got our tickets and can now relax.
I did not want to tell the girls about the normal Wednesday night motor bike showcase that happens on Beale St just after dusk. Better for them to get a huge surprise just as I did some 5 years ago. We walked down to have a drink and a meal and as we turned onto Beale we were greeted with hundreds of incredible motor bikes all lovingly cared for and tricked out to impress. The parade of bikes is even bigger than the last time I was in town and now extends for two whole blocks.

We called into the Rum Boogie bar for some refreshment. Hanging from the ceiling are hundreds of guitars signed by famous musicians.
We walked both sides of Beale and took in the sights. I wanted to go back into the Rum Boogie for some music, a feed and a drink. The time is now 8:30 and I can’t get into any licensed premises as I don’t have my I.D. with me. Struck the same deal in New Orleans. The bouncers are very apologetic as they can see that I am well past 21 however if the authorities come into check patrons I.D. and it can’t be produced then the owners cop a $10,000 fine. Maybe this is having the desired impact of keeping out the not so nice people that come into town to work over the tourists?

We decided to go around the corner to the Flying Saucer bar and grill (no I.D. needed here.) Over 200 beers on tap. You can become a member of the UFO club. Once you have tasted 200 beers (not in one night mind you) then you become a ‘BEERKNURD’ which gets you a brass plate in the ring of honour (on the ceilings and walls). I had a couple of very tasty porters to go with the cheesy jalapeno fries I ordered.

*Jim Crow so named after white minstrels who black faced in the early part of last century. Many slaves were called Jim and crows are black. These so called entertainers would act as buffoons and make a mockery of the African American population. The laws that came in after the abolishment of slavery (segregation, separate but not equal) became known as Jim Crow laws. It is not just a bit of harmless fun as some people I know have said to me about whites black facing at parties or in comedy skits. It is highly offensive and show ignorance.

Rob Rowe

Day Forty – New Orleans to Memphis

Day Forty – New Orleans to Memphis

Blues Idiom – Yas Yas – Used as a rhyming substitute for ‘ass,’ Yas-Yas-Yas has appeared in Hokum Blues from the 1920’s, such as Tampa Red’s big hit, ‘ The Duck Yas Yas Yas.’ Memphis Minnie sang in ‘New Dirty Dollar:’
‘Now the funniest thing I ever seen, tom cat jumping on a sewing machine,
Sewing machine ran so fast, took ninety-nine stitches in his yas yas yas.’

Lucky I checked the departure time of the train. I though it was 2 P.M. when it is really 1:45 P.M. Stew picked us up and we loaded out suitcases in his car. Said goodbye to Mickey and off we went to the station. It is only a ten minute drive. Checked in using my tablet and the downloaded train ticket.
We were talking as we waited in line and the guy in front of us asked where we were from. Turns out he is from Sydney.

No trouble getting a good seat on the second tier of our carriage, which will give us a good view of the county side. The journey takes a little over 8 hours and we are due into Memphis at around 10:15 P.M.
Plenty of time to catch up on some reading and listen to music and watch the world go by. Hunger called and we went to the dining car. I ordered a ‘genuine’ angus cheese burger. The lady behind the jump got a prepared burger out of the fridge and microwaved it. Lucky it tasted better than it looked. First time though that I have eaten a burger that sagged.

We pulled into the station right on time and had a short wait to get a cab. Once we checked in and got settled it was to late to go out exploring downtown Memphis. We have booked to stay at the Holiday Inn on Union street which is just two blocks from the world famous Beale Street.

Rob Rowe

Day Thirty Nine – Last Day In New Orleans

Day Thirty Nine – Last Day In New Orleans

Blues Idiom – Woofing, Woof Ticket, Wolf Ticket – Woofing is verbally nimble teasing and name calling; although in today’s rap it’s used more often to mean bragging. It’s competitive but not rough, like poking fun at somebody

I spent most of the day catching up with the blog. Last full day in New Orleans always leaves me a little flat knowing that if the cards don’t fall right I may never be back again. The girls have gone out for some last minute shopping.

Wendy reminded me that we had planned to head to the Louisiana Music Factory on Frenchman street around 5:30 to catch the last instore performance of the series featuring Eric Lindell. While the girls waited out front of the store I went and got myself a beer. Kate said that she spotted a guy that she did not recognise walking down Frenchman wearing a 2012 WOW tshirt. We caught up with Jan and Fras and listened to Eric’s one hour set. Eric is a real nice guy and both Fras and I bought the latest C.D. release ‘The Sun and the Sea,’ and had Eric sign the cover. I gave Eric my WOW contact details and hopefully one day we may get to see him at the club.

Stew and Carol have also come down to the instore performance to see us before we go. We all went to Mona’s (Jan and Fras as well) for a feed and a chat. Then headed down to Cafe Du Monde for Kate’s last taste of a beignet. Stew has very kindly offered to pick up up tomorrow and drive us to the Amtrak Rail Station for out trip by train to Memphis.

Rob Rowe