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 blues.org
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.