Tuesday update

The South’s Grand Hotel is the first location to sell Old Dominick spirits, distilled right here in Downtown Memphis, by the glass.

The RENT 20th anniversary tour has announced a stop at the Orpheum for a limited engagement the weekend of June 16-18. Tickets are on sale now.

The Majestic Grille is hiring. Health & vision insurance, paid time off, and more benefits. Apply in person 2-4 PM at 145 S. Main Street. Great place to work, great owners.

The lineup for 901 Fest, the Memphis in May event promoting local Memphis artists and products, has been announced.

Oshi is back for the weekend but it will not be a burger bar. It will be a pop-up Asian fusion restaurant with a French influence. If the feedback is good, the concept will reappear as a pop-up in July and then become permanent in late August.

LUNCHBOXeats will be open for Mother’s Day brunch. Here’s the menu.

The location and program for the May Downtown Neighborhood Association meeting has been announced, and it is right up your alley… literally. On Tuesday, May 23 the DNA will meet at Belle Tavern, whose entrance is on Barboro Alley. Chef David Johnson will serve Southern-inspired bites, and tavern manager Chris Ferri has a full bar with friendly prices (insider tip: If you are a whiskey/whisky fan, you are REALLY going to like this place). The speaker will be State Senator Lee Harris, representing District 29. The meeting will be an informative Q&A on both sides. 6 PM social, 6:30 program. Free for members, $10 for non-members.

Freewheel will have its next slow ride tomorrow night, Wednesday, May 10, departing from 603 Monroe (the old Kudzu’s) at 6 PM and exploring the Medical Center District. Every week the group hosts a free, leisurely bike ride through a Memphis is neighborhood. Bring your own bike, or reserve one of theirs. Arrive early if you want to enjoy discounted pints at High Cotton. Roll: Bicycle Company will be there showing off some new bikes 5 to 9.

Thursday evening, May 11, from 6 to 10 PM there will be a WISEACRE Boomslang Bonanza at Loflin Yard. Come celebrate the release of Boomslang Belgian IPA at the yard, plus the birthday of WISEACRE sweethearts Davis and Ken. Live music by Paul Taylor, followed by karaoke.

BBQ team news: Our newest paid member has informed us that he plans to buy a crab at the Asian market, and put it on a leash and walk around with him at BBQ Fest. Hey Clay, I guess he’s going to need one of the 24-hour wristbands so he can get the crab in.

Gonna hit the Silly Goose for a bit after work and talk BBQ. Back tomorrow with more news.

BBQ Fest: How to have an insider’s experience if you don’t know anyone on a team

After the post I wrote yesterday, I’m sure some of you are thinking, “I don’t know anyone on a team at BBQ Fest next week. Will I still have fun? Is it worth going?” Today I’ll share a tip with you on how to meet teams, get fed, and learn about BBQ Fest from the people competing in it.

Say, for example, that you come to my booth around 8:15 PM on Thursday or Friday night. The music is blaring. The booth is packed. Off-duty MPD is at the door. There are people everywhere. If you come up and ask if you can come in, the answer will likely be, not a chance. Let me make it clear, we don’t want to say no. We just have so much going on that we’re trying to control the chaos.

Now instead, let’s say that you take a half-day off the Thursday or Friday of BBQ Fest and come to the park. For one thing, it’ll save you money. Admission is free at lunchtime (11 AM to 1 PM I believe) Thursday and Friday. And guess what, when 1 PM hits, you don’t have to leave. You’re already in the park. No one knows you didn’t buy a ticket.

So, let’s say it’s about 1:30 Friday afternoon. I’m standing outside the Moody Ques booth, and there are two other people outside with me and maybe four teammates inside along with the cook team. The place is empty and it is five and a half hours before MPD arrives to work the door. Let’s say I see you looking at the facade, and peering in the front door of my booth to see what goes on inside.

Most likely I am going to say, “Would you like a tour?” I’d walk you around the booth, explaining how the Ques Brothers formed 11 years ago and eventually morphed into the Moody Ques. I’d take you to the back – not the kitchen itself, that’s exclusively for the cooks – but I’d get as close as I could and let you see the equipment. Perhaps one of our cooks would have time to talk to you a bit about BBQ preparation. I’d take you upstairs and show you the second-story river view. Then as we came back downstairs, I’d say, “Hey, we just brought some brisket off the smoker. Would you like to try some? And there’s a keg over there, pour yourself a beer if you want. Do you want to meet a second team? There’s a team just a few steps down the walk called Squeal Street that are good friends of ours. Would you like me to take you over and introduce you?”

Thursday and Friday before about 6 PM are the best times to approach BBQ teams you don’t know. I can’t promise all of them will respond the way I said above, but I think at least some of them would. Is Thursday or Friday better? Hmmm, I’d tend to lean toward Friday. On Thursday, some of the teams have “sponsor day,” where team members wait on their sponsors, and guests are not allowed. My team doesn’t have a sponsor day, so in our case it doesn’t matter.

If evening is the only time that works for you, I would advise coming Wednesday. It is the first year BBQ Fest will be open to the public on a Wednesday night. There will be fewer people and everyone will be in upbeat spirits.

If Saturday is the only day you can come, come in the south gate (Georgia Avenue entrance) between noon and 5 and approach the teams whose number begins with “S-“. Those are the shoulder teams, who are the first to be visited by the judges. The judges will be gone by noon and then the teams have the afternoon to kick back and relax. Hog and rib teams have judging later in the day Saturday which is why I recommend visiting the shoulder teams.

Hope that helps those of you who are new to Memphis or to BBQ Fest. If you’re a bit outgoing and you know when to go, you have the best chance of getting the insider’s experience without knowing a team.

Monday update: The countdown to BBQ Fest begins

Starting off today’s post with a programming note: Those of you who have events coming up next week (Saturday, May 13 through Sunday, May 21) that you want me to mention in the blog, go ahead and email them to me (paul@paulryburn.com) this week. Next week I will be in a muddy park and although I will have email access on my phone, looking at email will not be foremost in my mind.

One other note about that time period – yes, I will still be at the Farmers Market and Earnestine & Hazel’s on Saturday. Yes, I will be at D-RANKS with B-RAD on Sunday. Yes, there will be plenty of Bardog (and maybe some Saucer) weekday mornings. However, instead of “this is where I’m hanging out instead of going to Tom Lee Park,” it will be, “this is where I’m pre-gaming before going to Tom Lee Park. Teammates, come join me and we’ll walk down there together!” The team needs me down there every day. It’s not like I was told I had to be there – I wasn’t – but it feels like the right thing to do this year, for the team and for myself.

For my new readers who aren’t sure what I am talking about: The next big event for Memphis in May is the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, Wednesday-Saturday May 17-20, almost universally called BBQ Fest by the locals. Teams compete in ribs, shoulder, or whole hog. Many teams build elaborate booths, some being multi-story and having 5-figure budgets for a 4-day event. My team is called The Moody Ques and we compete in shoulder. We have finished top three in Best Booth four of the past five years.

Unfortunately, the competing teams aren’t allowed to feed the public, and you have to be a team member or invited guest to get in a team’s booth. That means BBQ Fest is a lot less fun if you don’t know any of the teams. They do have vendors (including former champions) who sell to the public. You can also sign up as a People’s Choice judge and get to sample competition BBQ.

I will be writing more about my team and BBQ Fest this week. It is my 11th year on a team. I will have tips for BBQ Fest visitors, and tips for first-year team members.

One of the other local BBQ teams had an exciting announcement this week. Porkosaurus’ products can now be bought in the gift shop at the Peabody Hotel. They haul off trophies by the truckload every year and their sauce and rub will definitely make a good impression at your dinner table.

It’s a night of legends at FedExForum as Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and Joe Walsh come to town. Show starts at 7 PM.

Whoa, this is interesting news:

The Flyer’s Toby Sells (@TobySells) reports that Patrick and Deni will operate the restaurant, re-branded into a concept called The Front Porch, from June through Halloween. There will be new outdoor seating and a new menu, and they may run a golf cart shuttle from Peabody Place to Beale Street Landing.

All-you-can-eat Thursday returns to AutoZone Park this coming Thursday, May 11. A special ticket to the Memphis Redbirds vs. El Paso Chihuahuas will get you an all-you-can eat buffet with burgers and all the sides.

Hmmm… wouldn’t be surprised if I see Seth in my neck of the woods on Thursday…

Country duo Locash will play Tin Roof on Beale Street on Friday, June 2.

Jim Seward will bring his middle-aged, middle Tennessee comedy to the High Cotton taproom for a free show tomorrow evening, May 9, 7:30-9 PM. The show will feature Cortney Warner, Natasha Ferrier & Derik Zoo and will be hosted by Doug Gillon & Jonny Bratsveen with Ben Aviotti.

That’s it for now. Back tomorrow with more.

Errrrbody prints koozies and Sunday news

Yesterday around noon I was sitting on a bar stool at Earnestine & Hazel’s, listening to the jukebox, taking in the smell of Soul Burgers, watching the Music Fest goers walk past the door. “You got your BBQ team situation figured out? You get some more members to join?” Clarence asked me.

“Oh yeah, as recently as two days ago we had someone sign up,” I said.

Now, Clarence knows I’m on the Moody Ques. Heck, Saturday before last we more or less turned Earnestine & Hazel’s into a Moody Ques bar, with my teammates Eric, Jeremy, and Jeana there. However, the people sitting next to me yesterday would have had no idea I was on the Moody Ques, given that my PBR bottle was in another team’s koozie.

Stepping into my Director of Public Relations role, I saw an opportunity.

My BBQ team gets rubber wristbands printed in the colors of the honored country every year. Members wear these during BBQ Fest to let the off-duty MPD officer at the door know they are team members, and to let the bartender know they have priority in line. Once BBQ Fest is over, most of those rubber wristbands get thrown in a drawer. However, I wear mine year-round. It’s a conversation piece, a way to get people to ask about the Moody Ques. It works too. I recently gave away my ’17 wristband to an out-of-town visitor. Which reminds me, I need to text our team president and have him bring me another wristband.

I’m not a stay-at-home guy. I go out most days of the week. Five of the places I frequent – Blind Bear, Silly Goose, Belle Tavern, Majestic Grille, and Earnestine & Hazel’s – have PBR in bottles or cans. When those bottles or cans sit on the bar in front of me, I realized, they need to be wrapped in a Moody Ques koozie.

To make it clear, this is something I am going to pay for out of my own pocket. I’m not going to get the team to fund it – our treasurer Misty has enough on her mind already. I am also not looking at this as a 2017 team benefit – it’s too late, BBQ Fest is too close, and I would have to pay rush pricing. That said, when I do get them, if the order is big enough I will try to make sure every team member gets one.

Instead, I plan on using the koozies as a 2018 marketing tactic. Every year there are people who think, “All right. This is the year I’m finally going to join a BBQ team.” As I learned in college psychology class (RIP Dr. Cloar), familiarity breeds likability. If they make that decision in March, and they’ve been seeing the BBQ team’s logo on my beer for nine months, and they’ve inquired about it and heard my stories, they’re very likely to ask, “Hey Paul, are there spots open on your team?” Even better would be if I could get people to ask, “Hey Paul, does your team need a sponsor?”

So, I put the word out on Facebook that I might be interested in getting some koozies printed. I did not expect the response I got. People were texting me. People were private-messaging me. People were tagging their friends in the post. By the end of the day Saturday I had fourteen different leads on getting koozies printed. Actually fifteen, because I need to see if our T-shirt printer does koozies also. Apparently I’m the only one in town without a koozie-printing machine.

On to the news… Trolley Stop Market is hiring once again. They are looking for two line cooks and two pizza preppers. Apply in person between 10 AM and 5 PM Wednesday-Friday, and bring your resume and three references.

Volunteer opportunity at a Victorian mansion: As summer approaches, the Woodruff-Fontaine House gets more tourists and more visitors. If you are interested in giving tours, working with their extensive textile collection, and helping out with special events, email contact@woodruff-fontaine.org.

If you’re looking for live music today but in a less busy environment than Music Fest, check out Songwriter Sessions at the Ghost River taproom today from 5 to 7. This week they have Alex Greene, who has played with Reigning Sound, The Subtractions, and Rolling Head Orchestra. He is rarely seen solo. He plays keys and some guitar.

Not far away, Electric Church plays Loflin Yard 3-6 PM.

Still got an hour and a half until D-RANKS with B-RAD at Blind Bear. I think I’ll go walk around and watch the freak show that Downtown becomes during Music Fest weekend. Back tomorrow with more news.

Outdoors Inc. comes Downtown and more Saturday news

Sometimes just the right store opens at just the right time.

Outdoors Inc. has opened in the Peabody Place office tower facing Main Street, in the location that used to be Life Is Good. It looks like Music Fest attendees will get by without needing rain jackets and rain boots this year, but keep them in mind for BBQ Fest.

I wonder what the last year was that we got through both Music Fest and BBQ Fest without any rain? I wonder if it’s ever happened?

For those not going to Music Fest today, or not going until later on today, here’s my suggestion: Buy a Big Ass Beer on Beale Street and go sit on the concrete blocks in front of Silky’s and watch the freak show go by. Good, cheap entertainment. Of course, as I said a couple of posts ago, you’re welcome to join me at Earnestine & Hazel’s this morning (opens 10 AM).

Discover the Dinosaurs: Unleashed comes to the Cook Convention Center tomorrow 9 AM to 7 PM. Twenty life-like dinosaurs will come to life in an exhibit for kids age 2 to 12.

Watch out for kids standing on street corners with buckets saying they are raising money for Memphis Streets Ministries. This is a scam and the executive director of the nonprofit says they do not raise money that way. The kids will usually tell you they are raising money for their basketball team, AAU team, or something similar.

The all-new Blue Suede Brigade is on the streets of Downtown. Although they will still be friendly guides who provide information to visitors, they are also licensed security guards who will patrol the streets on foot and on bike. They have been trained how to keep situations from escalating. This comes after a contracted third-party security force was disbanded late last month.

Next Friday, May 12, will be Armed Forces Night at AutoZone Park. “The Leap Frogs,” the U.S. Navy parachute team, will parachute into the park before the game. First pitch is set for 7:05 and fans are encouraged to be seated by 6:45 to witness the Leap Frogs’ entry into the park. The Navy Brass Quintet will perform in the plaza outside the park beginning at 5:30 PM, and there will be displays and interactive exhibits. Active duty and retired military personnel can receive a discount on two tickets to Redbirds games not just on Armed Forces Night, but for any game. A valid military ID is required.

I have some possibly useful information for my readers in the nonprofit sector: You can integrate Google Custom Search into your website for free without any ads if you are recognized as exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3). You must be able to prove that you qualify. It’s very easy to set up Google Custom Search – you tell Google what domains to crawl and index, and it gives you a code snippet to add to your website that produces the search box. Google search on your site is much, much better than the search that comes with content management systems such as WordPress.

Time to spread a little sunshine in South Main! Farmers Market is first up, then Earnestine & Hazel’s. Mid-afternoon you might see me on the very concrete blocks mentioned in this post. I wonder if the Jesus freak from Tulsa carrying the big sign will be there this year. He’s gotten to know me and hopes one of these years I will see the error of my ways… and every year he sees me with the big ol’ cup of sin known as a Call-a-Cab. One day I will be burning in everlasting Hell, or so says the pamphlets handed out by his minions. Guess I better enjoy the cool weather while I can!

Friday update #2

Reminder to those attending Music Fest this weekend: Don’t buy printed paper tickets from the “Got tickets. Need tickets” guys who work the well-traveled Downtown corners. These guys are often scammers selling copies of printed paper tickets. Once the QR code on a printed ticket has been scanned at the gate, that information is recorded and copies of that ticket can’t be used. Buy your tickets at the Music Fest ticket booth or from authorized vendor TicketFly.com.

The Redbirds will have their team store open tomorrow and Sunday, 10 AM to 2 PM, for those who want to do a little shopping on their way to Music Fest.

The Redbirds have big plans for Mother’s Day, next Sunday, May 14. Moms will get an ice cream treat (normally only given to kids 12 and under), and moms will be allowed to run the bases with their kids after the game. Gildan will have a “Pampering at the Park” event going on, with mini-massages and mini-manicures. Gildan reps will hand out T-shirts, including kids’ “I love my mom because ___” T-shirts. The first 1000 women in the gate will receive a carnation compliments of Holliday Flowers. First pitch is 2:05 PM and the opponent is El Paso.

That day, the Redbirds will also offer a special ticket that includes brunch on the Club Level and a Dugout ticket to see the game, plus catch on the field before the game. These tickets are $35 per person. Brunch is from noon to 1:30 and includes shrimp & grits, scrambled eggs with cheese, waffles, roasted garlic breakfast potatoes, country sausage, bacon, tortellini, tortellini with grilled chicken, a salad bar, fresh fruit, danishes, croissants, cornbread muffins, a champagne and mimosa bar(!!!), chocolate covered strawberries, and MEMpops.

Kooky Canuck has $5 34 oz. margaritas all day for Cinco de Mayo. They’ll have the Predators-Blues game on at 7 this evening and the Oilers-Ducks at 9:30.

Blind Bear will have $4 Silver tequila shots (the good stuff) today for Cinco de Mayo, and also $6 margaritas made with the same good stuff. $5 beef tacos.

The Broom Closet at 546 S. Main is having a Spirit Doll Workshop Sunday, May 7 from 2 to 6 PM. A Spirit Doll embodies your hopes, dreams, and prayers, and can help you communicate with the parts of yourself that are hidden or deeply protected. Dana Taylor, local artisan, will lead you in the process of birthing your Spirit Doll. Cost for the class is $20.

I already have a Spirit Doll so I guess I don’t need to attend the class.

The piece of shit who broke into a St. Jude patient’s car back in March has been arrested. The 4-year-old, in town to have a brain tumor treated, lost her luggage, her leg braces, a PlayStation, diapers, blood pressure pills, and a 6-month supply of chemo and radiation medicine. I don’t see the judge being lenient with this guy.

The latest edition of The Rub, the CA’s podcast about all things BBQ, interviews Heath Riles of Victory Lane BBQ. Victory Lane is one of the most winning teams in Tom Lee Park and around the regional BBQ circuit, and Heath is a friend of my team the Moody Ques.

Just a few more hours until Downtown turns into a freak show. I plan to lead off on the Silly Goose patio and watch it all begin. Later my spirit doll Perjorie T. Roll and I will head south to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at my “home away from home on the south side,” Max’s Sports Bar. Perjorie and I may stop in Earnestine & Hazel’s to do a little celebrating there too! Happy Music Fest weekend everyone!

Friday update

I remember one of my BBQ teammates complaining recently about the new streetscape in The Edge. “I used to be able to zoom down Marshall and then Monroe to get home, but now they totally screwed up that intersection,” she said. “TABLES in the STREET? Who’s going to go sit where they could get hit by a car? What were they thinking?” To that teammate: Guess what’s going to happen right outside your favorite cocktail lounge:

DowntownMemphis.com has a list of Cinco de Mayo specials going on today.

RiverPlay, the new temporary park on Riverside between Court and Jefferson, opens today at 3 PM and will stay open until 10. You will be able to rent roller skates and check out basketballs, ping-pong paddles, chess pieces and equipment for other games for kids and adults. There will be food trucks rotating through the park on a daily basis. There will also be programming including 3-on-3 basketball tournaments, theatre, live music, fitness boot camps, and yoga. YOGA!

Terence Patterson who runs DMC tweeted a preview video of RiverPlay:

Suggestion for anyone who wants to pre-game for Music Fest Saturday morning: Legendary dive bar Earnestine & Hazel’s opens at 10 AM Saturday. That may be 15-16 hours earlier than you usually go, but you can still get a beer, you can still get a Soul Burger, you can still play the jukebox, and you can still go upstairs and see where the working girls took their customers. If you want to hang out with your favorite blogger, I will be there from 10 AM tomorrow to noonish, 1ish, maybe even 2ish. I will play it by ear as to what time I leave. Come join me!

Before I go to E&H, of course, I will hit the Memphis Farmers Market, where Strawberry Fields Forever is this Saturday’s theme. Thanks to an unusually warm winter, strawberry season came early this year. They are big and juicy. Live music by The Skitch 8:30-10 and Austin Holcomb 11-12:30. The Market happens every Saturday under the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson from 7 AM to 1 PM.

Meat lovers in particular should check out this week’s Market, where Claybrook Farms will have the May Bundle on sale at a special price. You get six 12 oz. ribeyes, four 12 oz. strip steaks, and four 1.5 lb. packs of ground beef for $150. That’s normally over $185 worth of food.

If you can’t wait until 5 to get your fill of music at Music Fest, Billy Gibson and Linear Smith will perform at 11:30 AM today at the Center for Southern Folklore.

Oh dear Lord. SENSES is re-opening. Saturday night is the opening night with a $20 cover charge and “DRESS TO IMPRESS” prominently featured on the flyer. I will not be attending.

That’s it for now. Possibly a second post at lunchtime.

Cinco de Mayo Eve update: Fidget cubes and more

Yeah, I know a lot of people call today Star Wars Day, but I dare to be different.

Last night I played trivia at the Blind Bear with my friend Stacey, and she had the coolest thing: a Fidget Cube. This is a six-sided hand-held stress reliever with a different activity on each side. You can spin a dial, run your fingers over rollers, rub a surface that resembles a worry stone, flip a switch, glide a joystick-like device, or click buttons. It is one of the highest funded Kickstarter projects. I want one for my desk at work!

There will be an opening party for Open on Main at 7 and 9 N. Main tonight from 5-7 PM. These storefronts will house a different business each month through November. Tonight there will be live music from The Pocket, a live painting demonstration by Adam Exelbierd, wine and hors d’oeuvres, and a raffle with proceeds benefiting St. Jude.

Change is coming to Peabody Place – the street, not the former mall that is now the ServiceMaster headquarters. Starting June 26, the city will embark on a demonstration project that will add bike lanes to what the CA calls “a stretch of Peabody Place from Front to Fourth” (although that is the entirety of Peabody Place, not just a stretch). There will be protected bike lanes along with murals and portable kiosks where artists can show their work, in a partnership between the city and the UrbanArt commission. A few parallel parking spaces will be lost on the street. This is part of a plan to complete a cycling route between Downtown and Midtown, meeting up with cycling lanes being put on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue.

Frankie Hollie & The Noise headlines tonight’s Peabody rooftop party. Your $10 cover (or entry with $150 season VIP pass, which can be purchased at the door) gets you live entertainment plus a buffet of chicken taquitos, tortilla chips and dip. If you’re a VIP there’s also a taco bar, refried beans, chicken enchilada dip, and cinnamon churros. The drink specials are traditional margaritas, cinnamon apple margaritas, and Firefly blackberry lemonade moonshine. Doors open at 6, ladies and hotel guests free before 7.

Celtic Woman: Voices of Angels comes to the Orpheum tonight. Showtime is 7 PM and tickets are $42-102.

Random thing I discovered yesterday: I was looking at Google Maps yesterday, trying to discover alternate routes out of Downtown while Riverside is closed. Any place on the map that is known to Google is reviewable, including the Probation & Parole Office at Crump and Kentucky. Four people have submitted reviews. One user gave the office a 3-star (out of 5) review on Google, while three users gave the office a 1-star rating. That averages out to a pitiful 1.5 stars out of 5. Sounds like the probation and parole officers could stand to read a few customer service books! Those of you who visit the office, don’t forget that you can walk across Crump after you’re done and get drunk at The Dirty Crow Inn!

Scam alert: If you get an email notification that someone shared a Google Docs file with you, contact that person and asked if they really shared the file. I am hearing that there is a very sophisticated phishing scam happening on that platform right now.

Holly has a look at the new Front Street Deli. Very cool: They’re going to have delivery, including beer. Very, very cool: They’re apparently going to have a kiosk at Paula & Raiford’s for late night delivery.

I didn’t discover it until recently, but local BBQ team Porkosaurus has a really good Twitter account showing off what you can create with their locally-sold sauce and rub. Follow them at @porkosaurus.

901 Wings at 97 N. Main is now open.

Moody Ques BBQ team menu news: We’re going to have bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers and a roasted vegetable orzo pasta salad in addition to the entrees and sides I named in yesterday’s post. Who sez we got nothin’ to eat? We’re gonna have so much to eat in our booth that our members are going to have to do a 3-day juice cleanse post-BBQ Fest to atone for their sins! (Hopefully our team attorney will have less of a problem with this statement than “We’ll get you so drunk in our booth that you’ll have a seizure and die”)

Inspirational quote of the day:

Wanna gamble? Frontier has announced a nonstop flight from Memphis to Vegas. Or, “LAS Vegas” as my friend Bicycle Bobby calls the city.

That’s it for now. Time to grind out the afternoon at work then Silly Goose happy hour. Back tomorrow with more news.

Wed update #2: Saucer re-opens, a note on my focus at BBQ Fest this year and more

The Flying Saucer is back open, a day earlier than previously announced. They have a new beer selection and a new menu that includes gourmet burgers.

Looking to get away from the Music Fest madness that will happen Downtown Friday night? I have a suggestion. Wiseacre Brewing Co. out on Broad Avenue will host a brewery tour at 6 PM. They’ll explore beers that are “sour” versus those that are fermented with the wild yeast called brettanomyces. Sampling will include Golgi Apparatus, a Belgian Trippel brewed with brettanomyces and a Berliner weisse, Beach within Reach with watermelon. $10 per person and you can sign up here.

Bedrock Eats and Sweets at Main and Vance is looking for Saturday line cooks for an 8 AM to 3 PM shift. Additional shifts will be available but are not required. Email brandi@bedrockeatsandsweets.com to apply.

Michael McDonald has been announced for an Orpheum date. His first new album in 10 years, Wide Open, will be released September 15, and he will go on tour to support it, with a Memphis visit scheduled for November 4 with special guest Marc Cohn. Tickets go on sale at the Orpheum box office Friday, May 12 at 10 AM.

When the levee breaks, have no place to stay… if you have friends or family in Pocahontas, Arkansas, keep a close eye on the news. A Black River levee broke and the town is under a flood emergency.

I hear there’s bad flooding in southeast Missouri as well. I hope everything is OK with my BBQ teammates Jeremy and Jeana’s farm up there.

Beale Street Caravan has announced two big shows not this weekend, but next weekend (the weekend between Music Fest and BBQ Fest). On Friday, May 12, Al Gamble, George Sluppick, and Joe Restivo will put the band back together. The City Champs were a popular band in Memphis several years ago, releasing albums in 2009 and 2010. However, offers of better-paying, wider-touring projects broke the band up. They have stayed in touch, though, and on May 12, they will be back on stage together at Loflin Yard (9 PM showtime) and they have even written some new material. Tickets are $10 in advance at brownpapertickets.com. Cover charge at the door will be $12.

On Saturday, May 13 at Loflin Yard, ten-piece Lovelight Orchestra will perform the sounds you might have heard on Beale Street in the 1940s and 1950s. Think of the sounds you might have heard at The Palace on Beale, the big-band sound on Duke and Peacock Records. The sounds of hometown kids of that era who came up through the music programs of Booker T. Washington and Manassas High School. This show will be taped for broadcast on radio program Beale Street Caravan. Tickets are $10 in advance at brownpapertickets.com. Cover charge at the door will be $12.

Want to check out the new Memphis Grizzlies Memphis Escape Room at Main and G.E. Patterson? Retweet what you see below and you might get to go for free.

Been thinking about photos at BBQ Fest. In past years, I have taken 200-300 photos a day and have posted them to my blog the next morning. The trouble is, I have relied on Google Picasa as a fast way to edit the photos and get them online. Picasa has been discontinued, so I will be using Google Photos, which is not quite as fast or user-friendly. So, if I can only post, say, 50 photos a day, I asked myself, what kind of photos should be my priority?

The answer is obvious… the food. The Moody Ques are a competition shoulder team, but we do more than cook to impress the judges. We feed our members and their guests very well, with 2 meals planned for Wednesday night, 4 meals for Thursday, 4 for Friday, and pulled pork all day Saturday. There will be sausage and cheese plates, burgers, wings, ribs, brisket, pizza and “a surprise” by the cook team in addition to pulled pork. Of course there will be sides and desserts too. My plan is to take photos of every type of food that is served in our booth BBQ Fest weekend. There is an inaccurate, outdated perception out there that if you come to our booth, you won’t get anything to eat. That has not been true for the past two years and has not been true since our current cook team took over the kitchen. For 2017 I plan to completely squash that perception once and for all. Request for my teammates – if food is being served and you notice I am not in the booth, text me and tell me “Paul, get down here” or take photos of the food yourself and text them to me.

Don’t worry, I will get photos of the team and the booth as well – but the food will be my main focus. I feel that is the best way to fulfill my Director of Public Relations role with the camera.

All righty then, that’ll wrap this one up. I’ll be out at the Silly Goose after work getting silly.

Wednesday update

One of the things I like to do on this blog is give my readers a sense of what it’s like to be on a Memphis in May BBQ Fest team. We’re less than two weeks away from load-in and build, so it was time to go shopping in preparation for BBQ Fest. What I bought:

Cargo shorts: Yes, I know these are a fashion no-no, but for BBQ Fest they are necessary. Four pockets are not enough. I need six. I have to carry my keys, pens, my iPhone, my external charger, a camera, spare batteries for the camera, paper wristbands for booth guests, and samples and other random stuff I get handed in Tom Lee Park. Really, thinking about it I wish we had ordered team shirts with pockets so I’d have a 7th one.

BBQ Fest sandals: No, I don’t mean Memphis in May official sandals or anything like that. The idea is that a week in the muddy, swampy park is going to ruin whatever footwear I have on, so I don’t want them ruining my good sandals. I always go to Payless and buy an el cheapo pair to wear to Tom Lee Park.

Rain ponchos: Two-mile walks from the south end of the park to the Downtown core in the pouring rain are not fun. Trust me, I know this from experience. I have three ponchos in reserve. By the way, those of you attending Music Fest or 901 Fest should keep ponchos in mind too. Gift shops on Beale sell these. I think Downtown Walgreens does too.

I’ll add a Music Fest tip for those who have moved to the Downtown core or South Main the past year and therefore don’t already know: Leave work early on Friday. Traffic and parking turns into a nightmare from about 5 on. I pay for a parking garage, but if I’m not home by 5 I find myself parking on level 6 rather than level 2 or 3.

Tacos & Tunes returns to the patio of Felicia Suzanne Restaurant this Thursday, May 4, at 7 PM with live music by Deering & Down. This is a weekly event with different entertainment every week and taco and margarita specials.

Got a couple of pieces of news about the Ghost River taproom. They’re opening up at 2 PM Friday, May 5 to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Beer-itas, their Grindhouse ale with margarita mix, will be back and will be made all day. Fuel food truck will be on site at 4 to serve up some tacos.

In Sunday brunch news, Flying Sobies has been such a huge hit that Ghost River is extending its brunch hours, formerly from noon to 4 PM, to noon to 9 PM. Flying Sobies will be there all day slinging fried Cornish game hens, in any of five sauces (or plain), paired with waffles and fries. They’ll be serving Bloody Beers and will have other beer specials on some Sundays. Crockett Hall will host Sunday Evening Slowdown: Songwriter Sessions with a guest each week 5:00-7:30 PM.

If you’re going to Music Fest Friday night and aren’t staying Downtown, I would advise you to not take Union as your route back to Midtown or out east. There will be a sobriety checkpoint at Union and East in the Medical Center District from 8 PM to 2 AM.

Janet Jackson is coming back to FedExForum for a December 6 concert. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10. The show is part of her State of the World tour.

That’s it for now. Probably a second post at lunchtime.