It’s Amazing! A Tale of Travels Part 3

Feb 28th, 2012 | By | Category: Misc
Cafe on Beale Street

Photo by Pepe Barbe

Somehow, the City of New Orleans 8+ hour train ride felt even longer than the twenty hour trip to Nawlins. Maybe it’s that I slept half the first ride. Maybe it’s that I had been to New Orleans before, and didn’t have the anticipation I had for Memphis. Maybe it was instrumental music I chose to accompany the ride up the Mississippi. Maybe it was that both treks had the same number of smoke stops even though the second ride was less than half the distance. Who knows. It really doesn’t matter. It felt like a decade though.

After I did the Canadian Club stumble off the train and collected my pack, an awesome taxi driver won the debate over hoof it or cab. He agreed to keep the meter off and take me to my “hostel” for five bucks in exchange for me calling only him for my twenty-four hour stint in town. I get to the “hostel” to check in, and, what’dya know, it’s not a hostel at all. The Vista Inn is a hotel about two blocks off Beale Street that has a room with a couple bunk beds, a TV, and a desk in a back corner of their complex. I talked the guy at the desk into the “cheapest rate” he’s “ever given anyone, ever,” to put me in my own room. I just don’t trust a communal room in the back of an already kinda seedy motel. I dropped my pack in the room (it got its very own bed to sleep on!) and headed for the famous Beale Street. Something about the three blocks of neon had me really excited. I was gonna go see some serious blues musicians rip shit in Graceland, but first I needed some grub. I popped into the Blues City Cafe. It seemed like the most acceptable food on the street. I got some hand-breaded chicken tenders and steak fries to help pad my drinking abilities. They were a little better than good enough, but they got the job done. I asked the bartender my favorite question, “So… Where should I go if I only have one night here?”

The fucker sent me to the famous Club 152. I walked in, happy to see I was in another town that allows smoking in the bars, and got myself a Yuengling. Five dollars?! Looks like I’ll be going home soon. I decided to stay to see if the band was worth a damn. Within three songs they managed to offend me. I’m embarassed to admit I actually knew the rhythm guitar to the two tunes I recognized, “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “Runaround”. I asked the bartender there for my tab, and directions to a place for “someone who doesn’t dig cover bands.” She sent me up to The Silly Goose. My intuition told me to ask the couple leaving for a new recommendation. They sent me to a new place called the Blind Bear. And here’s where my night finally begins. Longest. Intro. Ever.

Neon lights and traffic on Beale Street

Photo by Geoff Livingston

I ordered a draft PBR, started a tab, sat down at the bar, and tried to ignore the loud ass DJ with nobody dancing. The PBR came in a mason jar with a handle. Alright, I can stay here for a while at least. Halfway through my beer, the DJ said thanks and started packing up. Alright, I can stay here for sure. Halfway through my second beer I started talking to my neighbor, David Graham. What a cool cat. He introduced me to a band I’d never heard, King’s X, and we started talking music. Conversation eventually led to what I’m up to, and he was all about it. Somehow I was able to really relate to this guy decked out in real designer clothes. Not a dandy like me, a bona fide rich dude.

He eventually bought me a shot. Fireball, hell yea! Then, he told me we had to go this other bar around the corner even if it meant possibly running into four of his ex-girlfriends. And guess where he took me. None other than The Silly Goose. He greeted about a thousand people as soon as we walked in, and kindly introduced me to the one’s he thought mattered. The locals proceeded to shower me with compliments, shots, and expressions of jealousy.

I got the feeling that Memphis and Greensboro had a lot in common. Namely, they’re both places that people are dying to leave, but love so much that they can’t.

By the end of the night, the guy that owned the place and I exchanged numbers over too many complimentary shots. He told me we needed to meet up in some random city and rule whatever city that was for a few nights, and that I needed to come by the next night and play his bar. He literally told me I could have part of his regular weekly musician’s set. I told him I was playing a tiny, funky coffee shop across town, but would do what I could. We worked out that I could do what I want, and shove the coffee shop. I kindly explained that Mary, the owner of Java Cabana (the funky coffee shop), was nice enough to give me a show on three days notice, and that I had to at least go by and play for a little while. (I haven’t talked to her yet, but eaves dropping while typing this tells me she’s pretty awesome. I’m typing this at Java Cabana.) I left The Silly Goose walking on sunshine and wobbling my way back to my room. Today, I woke up to the sound of a man knocking at my room door.

“Are you staying another night, or checking out? Check out was an hour ago.”

“Oh shit, sorry. I must have slept through all five of my alarms. I’m sorry. The locals got me shnockered.”

“Oh okay, I’ll give you a few minutes.”

I brushed my teeth and put my pack back in order. I must have drunkenly tried to rearrange it ’cause it was an awful wreck. I pretty leisurely made my way out of the room and into the front office. I explained my situation, and the girl behind the desk was sympathetic. She didn’t charge me a dime, and wished me good luck on the road. Fucking awesome. I will absolutely stay at the Vista Inn again, however seedy it might be. The sheets were clean, and the staff was more than accommodating. I called my cab driver, as promised, and made my way out to Cooper Young to get some coffee at Java Cabana. I think it’s about time I met Mary.

“This is a coffee shop… We just… sell coffee.”



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