For the next several days, I am a “supervising producer” on Hillcrest High School’s journalism trip–a bus tour called HTV Southern Swing. I was in HTV when I was in high school and I’ve been either cool enough or lame enough to stay associated with program over the years. So now, here I am, riding on giant bus towards Nawlins (New Orleans) from Memfis (Memphis), attempting to read each student’s blog, fighting against the bus’s failing internet (though I shouldn’t be complaining–the fact that a bus in the middle of nowhere can have internet is freaking magical).
See, that is one of my jobs, to check each student’s blog and “feature” certain ones on our homepage each day. I also am in charge of obtaining a short musical feature each day called “Ode To The Road.” When I’m not doing either of these things, which is most of the time, I am helping students find and videotape stories in each new city. Also, I make sure they don’t get kidnapped or do anything their parents wouldn’t approve of.
Day 1 was yesterday. It consisted of driving from Springfield, MO, to Memphis, TN, and then exploring downtown. Here is what I accomplished yesterday:
1. Killed a stingered bug (like a man) that sneaked on to the bus and was terrorizing the women (or just sitting on a window).
2. Discovered which sitting positions I am unable to fall asleep in on the bus.
3. Had a better lunch than you, because I ate chicken and waffles at Miss Polly’s on Beale Street.
4. Walked from downtown Memphis to Sun Studios in order to have a seance with Elvis and Johnny cash.
5. Roamed around Beale St at night and watched various live blues bands.
We all ate at BB King’s Blues Cafe for dinner. A pretty awesome place, with an incredibly awesome house band. Every person in the band just blew my mind. There was an interesting mix of clearly-veteran performers (sax, trumpet, guitar, vocals) and younger-looking performers (drums, bass, keys). They just killed it, which is good, considering they were the house band at BB King’s restaurant, and you are kind of expected to do so. I’ve never seen someone wail on “Texas Flood” like that before. The guitarist’s picking hand was just a blur. Here is how I rate some aspects of the restaurant:
Sweet Tea: A
BBQ Pork Sandwich: A- (room for improvement)
House Band: A
Sweet Potato Tater Tots: A+
Existence of Bass Player Wearing RUN DMC Shirt: A
French Fries: C-
I saw several blues bands play live that night as I walked around Beale. I saw one power trio finish their set with what I assume was Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile” but it is hard to tell because their guitarist was shredding in a pretty non-bluesy, but totally acceptable way. I wish there were more of that (“that” being blues music, rock music, and incredible guitar solos) from the local bands in my hometown.
Quick! A non-definitive list of top blues songs for people to get into blues:
1. “Crossroads” by Cream
2. “Texas Flood” (or nearly anything) by Stevie Ray Vaughn
3. “Since I Been Loving You” by Led Zeppelin
4. “Ice Cream Man” by Van Halen
5. “Red House” by Jimi Hendrix
6. “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” and also everything else by Derek and The Dominos from the album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
And if those are too “old,” you can use The Black Keys or “Ball and Biscuit” by The White Stripes to ease you into easing you into the blues.
That’s all I have for yesterday today. Next stop: New Orleans.