Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Trip To The Blues Music Awards, 2014

Had a great time at the 35th Annual Blues Awards in Memphis! Haven't been in a few years.  Great to see a lot of old friends and make a few new ones..... (click on the picture for a larger view)

Several remarked to me this Blues Music Awards Week would long be remembered by them as the first one which brought together the 2 top meteorologist/blues guitarist IN THE WORLD: Myself and the great Kevin Selfe, of Delta Groove artist Kevin Selfe and the Tornadoes, and The Mannish Boys.  Ok....maybe not as many mentioned it...but it was true.

You know you're in Memphis, when in the hotel lobby, you see a grown man sporting an Elvis tattoo on his calf.

Carlene Roach from North Alabama.  She was raised in Columbus, KY and along with her husband, Robert, were quite possibly the only people at the BMAs who knew where Fulton was!  What a sweet couple!

Some Blues fans are quite particular about proper Blues dress! I noticed this was a blue plaid.

Great crowd for the reception at the Cannon Center in Memphis!

Last time I went to the BMAs, we put Bobby Rush on the phone with my wife, Bridget. She thought we were fooling and said some wild things to Bobby.  It was priceless.  This time, Bobby offered his condolences and prayed with me.  No  wonder, in addition to being one of my favorite artists, he's one of my favorite people.

Packed house at the Cannon Center for the awards show! They didn't want us to go to the stage to take pictures and requested we stay in our seats.  That's why this is the only picture I took inside the hall. It was a great show though!

Scott Holt, a fellow Native Tennessean, is a hoot!  I opened for him years ago at the Jenn Jam in Cairo, IL

My favorite living, left handed guitarist: Tom Holland.  This guy's a MONSTER player.

Your standard, obligatory Beale Street shot.

Still. One of the coolest things we did the past year, was play one of his songs for his granddaughter.

FLASHBACK: October, 2013 with Kala Bland and her lovely mom, Melanie McDaniel
Friday, I decided to do something during the day I hadn't done and check out some of the museums I hadn't been to.  I'd been to Sun Studios, Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum (all of which I recommend). This time, I went to the Rock and Soul Museum, and found this 1954 Gibson Reissue Scotty Moore model.

Also, this G&L presented to Carl Perkins by Leo Fender! I met Carl several times during my time in Jackson, TN.  Such a nice man, in addition to his legend. Nice!

Back for the dedication of the Blues Foundation's Blues Hall of Fame on Main Street in Memphis.

An Elvfie!

Lunch at Blues City Cafe for "wet" ribs.  I love the dry ones at Rendezvous, too.  Truth is, there are dozens of places in Memphis where you can get the "best ribs in town!"

Went through the Gibson guitar factory tour.  No pictures because they are afraid someone would take the pictures and began manufacturing guitars just as good as Gibson, and if there are no pictures, no one will ever know how they are made.....please.  I love you Gibson.  Even play a couple of yours.

This is the coolest toilet seat ever.

Friday afternoon. Went to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.  This may have been be the best museum I visited this day.  Great stuff!

This tape really interested me there.  I remembered it from Tom Dowd's documentary "The Language of Music."  If you haven't seen this documentary, YOU NEED TO!  What a story, about this tape in particular.

This is the tape machine on which it was recorded.

And YES, what Tom Dowd said in the doc was true about the markings....

This is most depressing part of the tour for me.  The part about how Stax Records used to use antiquated typewriters in the 70s.  The I recognized it as EXACTLY the ones we used to produce newscasts at WBBJ-TV in the 80S!!!

Otis Redding's Grammy for "Dock of the Bay"  Pretty cool.

Friday night: Hit the road for Clarksdale, MS

Haven't seen Candye Kane perform in 20 years.  Bridget was with me last time, in Nashville, where she played a show with Marcia Ball and Kim Wilson.

Great show.  Great voice. Great entertainer.  Laura Chavez rocked it on guitar, too.

Late night snack in the Delta.

Saturday.  Back home on the bluff. Overlooking the Mississippi Delta.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

Like a lot of folks, every time I got to Nashville, I make it a point to stop by Prince's Hot Chicken and pick up a sack of their famous hot fried chicken to bring home!  I always wanted to know how to make it at home since I can't drive to Nashville every week to get some!

I had read on the internet that some who claim to know how to make it, said the ingredients were simple and it was easy....but they weren't talking!

I tried infusing the breading of the chicken with cayenne, black and white pepper, and although it heated the chicken up, it wasn't quite the same.

Then I read where the "heat" actually came from a "pepper paste," and THAT turned out to be the secret!  The first time I tried it....yep....that's it.  Sooooo, here's my recipe for Nashville style Hot Chicken.

First of all, you prepare the fried chicken, as you normally would.  That means soaking it overnight in buttermilk, then breading it with flour and frying it as usual.

The secret is the pepper paste.  Here's the recipe I use for it:  Equal parts lard, and cayenne pepper, along with 1/3 part salt, and a very small amount of minced or powdered garlic.

I heat this for a few seconds in the microwave to melt the lard, and then stir it together to form a thick paste.

When the chicken comes out of the frying pan, the paste is applied by brushing it on, or by spooning it on and rubbed in by hand (with gloves on...).

The amount of heat for the chicken can be altered by simply putting more on, or by using more pepper and less lard for the paste.

To complete the dish, serve on a piece of white bread, with pickles stuck into the chicken with a toothpick!

And there you have it!  Yum Yum!!!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

About Playing The Bars....

Had a great show last night at Mr J's Bar and Grill in Murray, KY last night.  Great crowd, great food, lot's of fun!  I even did something I've NEVER done before.  I played the entire 3 hour plus show without taking a break.  Whew.  I don't know how Springsteen does it...

I don't play as many bars as I used to.  I don't think anyone does!  Part of the reason behind that is there just aren't as many bars anymore, and even less that feature live music, but thank goodness some still do!

A few things I've noticed about the patrons in bars these days, as it relates to live bands.

1. If the crowd hanging out there is older than 35, they tip better.  Much better.  They tips the bands, they tip the waitresses and bartenders.  Maybe that's because young folks haven't picked up on the habit of tipping. Maybe that's because younger people just don't have as much money.  I even had a 20-something guy tell me once while heading out the door, "Sorry, but I spent all my money on booze!"  The older crowd also tends to do less binge drinking but then again there are always exceptions.

2. Older patrons tend to be quieter and pay more attention to the bands than younger ones. With the younger crowd, many times, it's more about socializing and less about being entertained.  A fellow musician friend of mine who frequently tours Europe says the bar scene there is totally different.  The crowd, both young and old, are usually really into the music and listen intently.

3. Alcohol seems to amplify who people really are.  Sweet people tend to get sweeter.  Mean people tend to get meaner.  As for me?  I don't drink at all while I'm playing.  I want to make sure I give the folks the best show I can, and I can't do that unless I'm sober.  I'm STILL having fun though! Rest assured!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Toughest Gigs Of All

Today was a tough day but a day to celebrate a life.  My Aunt Nell passed away at the age of 102 and we buried her in my hometown of Trenton, TN. Aunt Nell was something else. One of the most positive, happiest people I've ever known.  Maybe that's why she lived so long! She was also the first professional musician in my family.  In addition to playing the piano and organ for more than 50 years at Hickory Grove Baptist Church, the church I was raised in, she also played organ for many funerals at Shelton Funeral Home in Trenton.  Those are some heavy gigs.

I've only played at 2 funerals in my life.  One was a friend who was also the husband of a co-worker, and the other was the owner of Fat Moe's Bar and Grill in Paducah, where we frequently played and his widow said, we were his favorite band of all the ones who played there.  Both times, I was scared to death.

Now I rarely have stage fright and most of the time I relish the chance to get onstage and do our thing, but funerals are different.  I am SO SCARED of sending the dearly beloved out into the hereafter with a chunked note, wrong lyric or otherwise obvious mistake! They should be honored with perfection, and perfection is not my specialty.  If you've ever heard me play live, I'm sure you'd agree.  I never play the same song the same way twice and have been known to own my share of musical "train wrecks."

However, at both funerals, I DID play perfectly and sing perfectly.  Even when I never played the song perfectly while rehearsing.  The only thing I can figure is the hand of God moved my fingers, led my voice and allowed me to do something I never do...a perfect performance.

Maybe that's how Aunt Nell made it through all those funeral gigs herself...