Day Forty Four – San Francisco

Day Forty Four – San Francisco

We are up at 6:30 for a flight to San Francisco leaving at 9:30. On the way to the airport we are hit by a very heavy thunder storm. Our taxi driver is talking on his phone and saying to the person on the other end, ‘it’s hard to see anything!’ The last time I caught a flight out of Memphis we also got hit by a storm that shut down the airport for 3 hours. We are not flying direct to Memphis and we have to go via Dallas. Our connection time for Dallas is a very short time after we arrive so any delay will be a problem. Kate wants to know why they would fly a plane in this weather, good question and we are about to find out. As it turns out we left Memphis on time.

The flight was as they say ‘a little bumpy.’ We had to complete three big loops outside of Dallas due to the back log of planes waiting to land due to the storms. We finally got the o.k. to land in Dallas and it was more than ‘a little bumpy.’ We were on the ground just as our connecting flight was due to take off. The pilot told us a few minutes before that he thought most connecting flight would also be delayed. When we were able to ask an American airlines attendant she told us that our connecting flight has already loaded and she doubted we would make it. Bummer, not only that the airport is so big that we needed to get the Sky Train just to get to the correct terminal. To our surprise the plane was still sitting on the ground and we were the last of four passengers to board. Whew, now we can take-off. No we had to sit on the tarmac for another hour due to the back log.
Uneventful flight into San Francisco. The girls had to check their carry on luggage for the flight. We were worried that those smaller bags might have been delayed. No need to worry about that as none of our bags have arrived. Wendy completed the paper-work for lost baggage. Kate is worried that she may never see her make-up again.

We got a cab to China Town where our hotel was located (the Astoria.) We booked there due to it’s close proximity to Union Square and because everything else was so expensive. I have since learned that San Francisco has become the most expensive U.S. city to live in having just surpassed New York.
We finally arrived at the hotel after battling huge traffic jams. The hotel is very plain looking (to say the least) and when we finally got to our room there was a very audible groan from the girls. Five star it ain’t nor any number in between of one. The T.V. is so old that it does not have a remote and Kate does not know how to turn it on. We have a desk (as advertised) but no chair. Wendy said we should go somewhere else but why bother. The sheets are clean and the bathroom is o.k. The good thing about the lost baggage is that you are able to track its where about online. We have found out that our bags should arrive on the next flight and that around four hours after that they will be delivered to our hotel.

We are all pretty spent not only from today but also the last six weeks is catching up. Time to go out and have a quick look at San Francisco and get something to eat. Although our hotel is pretty s0-so we are just one road crossing from some very exclusive shops.
We found a diner (Loris) and I ordered a New York steak sandwich. The food was pretty ordinary to say the least. The bill came and they had already added on an 18% gratuity and also noted that we could leave a tip. Now I know from past experience that the norm is to add an 18% gratuity if you are in a party of six or more (not three.) Some places hear the foreign accent and see how far they can con the tourist. Wendy crossed out the 18% tip. She will have to wait to see her statement I guess.

Rob Rowe

DAy Forty Three _ Ribs

Day Forty Three – Ribs

After yesterdays huge day and night I struggled to get out of bed this morning. The girls have decided to head to the Wolf Chase Mall which is a 45 minute drive from downtown. Not for me and I am going to lounge around. Not only are they going shopping for more ‘stuff’ they also have to buy another suitcase to get said ‘stuff’ back home.

I had lunch at De Javu (correct spelling). They specialise in New Orleans soul food. See I am missing it already. The Chef moved up from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and this is the second very successful restaurant that he has established in Memphis.
I just wandered around a bit and watched some T.V. until the girls came back laden with ‘stuff’ and the new suit case. We cannot possibly leave Memphis without having some of it’s world famous barbeque (read ribs.) The most famous of the restaurants serving ribs in downtown Memphis is Rendezvous, just around the corner from our hotel. I was not sure that Kate would try this finger licking pork delicacy. To my surprise she shared a half rack of ribs with Wendy and woofed them down like an good southern belle.

Early night for us as tomorrow we fly to our final destination, San Francisco.

Rob Rowe

Day Forty Two – Graceland/Sun Studios/Blues Awards

Day Forty Two – Graceland/Sun Studios/Blues Awards

Apologies first, I am a week behind with the blog and I am at this very moment sitting at San Francisco airport writing madly to finish the recording of our adventures.

Kate informed me this morning (Weds 13/5 local ) that my Facebook page has been hacked. She is replying to all the friend requests supposedly sent by me with the details. Why would anyone want to hack me? Have I become famous, do I have an unknown enemy. News for Mr/Mrs. Hacker, if you assume my identity you can also take over my debt which after this 7 week trip has grown somewhat.

Anyway back to Day forty-two.  We caught a cab to Graceland and did the tourist thing. This is my third visit and I was not going to go on the tour. However since my last visit the experience has been upgraded. Last time I was here you were given an audio tour headphone set to walk you through Elvis’s home. This time not only did you get the headphones you also got an IPAD which made the tour interactive. It sure made the tour a lot more interesting, not that it was not interesting last time around. There are a lot of old people lining up for the shuttle over to Graceland. Surely I am not that old looking. Many of the ‘fans’ have on I love Elvis tshirts. One old rocker has a tattoo of Elvis on his arm. There are a lot of poms making the pilgrimage All in all it was once again a lot of fun and I think the girls enjoyed it.

We got the cab driver to drop us off at Sun Studios. Again this is my third visit but what the heck. For my non music friends, Sun Studios is the legendary spot where Elvis first recorded. Before that though the likes of B.B.King, Howlin’ Wolf and many other blues legends cut discs here. Also Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins raised a little hell in this studio. We went on the tour to have a look at some of the memorabilia and then we went down to the studio itself. This is not just a museum as the studio is still used today. Young rock artists that want to get that authentic 50’s sound still record here. The tour guide was funny and informative (wish I could remember his name.) As the tour was about to finish I told him that this was my third visit. He then said (I promise this is true) ‘I thought you looked very knowledgable!’ He added that I should hang around until all the tourists left and he would show us around the actual recording booth. This is not part of any tour and it was very exciting for me to look out on the recoding studio floor, from the very spot that Sam Phillips recorded the above mentioned legends.

We walked back to the hotel for a rest and then showered and got ready for the Blues Awards. This night is the most important awards night for blues recording artists. It was once called the W.C.Handy Awards and it is the equivalent of the Grammys. Way Out West are members of the Memphis Blues Foundation and so we are allowed to attend the night. The party started at 5:30 with drinks and live music in the foyer of the convention centre. I thought I recognised the voice of the solo acoustic performer on stage when we arrived. I was right as it was Austin ‘Walkin Cane,’ who I saw perform a few years back at the Broadbeach Blues Festival. There are over 1500 people who attend the awards night. It is a very long night and goes to after midnight. Some of the artists who performed where: Charlie Musslewhite, Kenny Wayne Shephard, Keb Mo, Eric Bibb, John Hammond, Elvin Bishop and many other great performers. I spoke to my New Orleans friend, the great saxophonist Jimmy Carpenter who has been nominated for best instrumental (saxophone) performer of the year. We also caught up with Brian Wise and his touring party. I also ran into Watermelon Slim in the foyer and he remembered his WOW gig.

Many of the current blues hall of fame artists graced the stage for a round of applause. How is this Way Out West punters, on stage were Charlie Musslewhite, John Hammond and Big Jay McNeely and all of those legends have performed on our humble stage. You can also throw in Joe Louis Walker as another Blues Hall of Fame recipient who has been Way Out West. You can check out all this years winners at
Each year at these awards, time is put away to remember those that have passed in the last 12 months. This year we have lost among many others: Johnny Winter, Lynwood Slim, Big Chief Bo Dollis, Cosimo Matassa, Percy Sledge, Bobby Womack, Jack Bruce, Ben E. King and Robert Wolfman Belfour. We left the awards night at around 11 o’clock and walked back to the hotel.

Now that is what I call a big day.

Rob Rowe