If you’re in Memphis and are a fan of the blues, you need to get Downtown this week and treat yourself to some of the best live music you will ever hear. The International Blues Challenge kicks off today and runs through Saturday. Blues artists come from not just all over the country, but all over the world, to compete and be heard by producers looking to award recording contracts.
Today is the International Showcase, featuring artists from outside the U.S. A few years ago the president of the Blues Foundation gave me an inside tip that this is the “sleeper” event of IBC. A lot of the artists haven’t even arrived yet. It’s a chance to hear some great blues in an intimate venue before the crowds show up. This year the International Showcase is at Club 152 starting at 6 this evening.
Wednesday and Thursday are the IBC quarterfinals, with artists playing short sets in clubs in and around Beale – in fact, there are so many artists that heated tents have to be set up in Handy Park for additional performance space. A wristband ticket gets you entry into all these venues for one price. It’s an all-you-can-hear buffet of the blues. Plus, if you’ve never been in some of the venues on Beale Street, here’s your excuse to go check them out.
I’ll give you an insider tip – in past years the Flying Saucer has been a quarterfinals venue, and they tend to be open to the public without cover charge or enforcing the wristband requirement. So if you love craft beer as much as you love the blues, that’s a spot to check out.
Got a lunch suggestion for Thursday of IBC week. Canadian-themed restaurant Kooky Canuck, on Second Street across from the Peabody Hotel, will host the Great Canadian Polar Bear Blues Showcase Thursday beginning at 11:30 AM. This event is open to the public with no pass or wristband required. Not only will you hear some great music but they have a menu full of Canadian food. My recommendations: the maple flank steak, the Donair Poutine, the Yonge Street Burger, and the S’mores.
Friday beginning at 6:20 PM, the IBC semifinals take place in clubs on Beale Street. Same deal as the quarterfinals, where you buy a wristband for one price to get entry to all the clubs.
The IBC Finals will be at the Orpheum on noon Saturday, with doors opening at 11:30. An IBC pass or single-day ticket will be required for entry. Insider tip: My friends on the New Wing Order food truck will be parked outside for those of you who are hungry.
Yesterday was MLK Day, and I took some time to read Dr. King’s April 16, 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail after several people I follow on Twitter recommended it. I have to say, as a white man who grew up in the South it is a severe deficiency in my education that I never read this letter until well into middle age. I know MLK’s day is over now but nevertheless, I recommend it to all my readers. It is not a short letter, and probably took me about 35 minutes to read. However, it is a valuable insight into what Dr. King was thinking at the height of the civil rights movement.
I can’t help but think, had I grown up a generation earlier in my hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, coming of age around the time Dr. King wrote this letter, I might well have been one of those white moderates Dr. King talked about. White moderates of the time, King wrote, disappointed him far more than the Ku Klux Klan. With the KKK, he reasoned, at least you knew what you were getting. White moderates, on other hand, said they were for racial equality, but they were not committed to it to the point that they would fight for it alongside their black brethren. It saddens me to think I might have seen things that way in those times. Maintaining social order and not rocking the boat is less important than justice.
The past week I’ve been mentioning that I read a book that changed my life, a book that made sense out of a number of things that previously made no sense. I have discussed the book a bit on social media, but up until now I have not revealed the book’s title on here. Enough of my readers have asked me that I now will. It’s called The Gaslighting Effect by Reva Steenbergen. It is available on Amazon and Kindle. It is a nonfiction book that profiles a particular personality type. It is only 109 pages and well-written, a very easy read. It’s available on Amazon and Kindle, with the Kindle version being only $9.99. Please Note: There is a similarly-titled book called The Gaslight (without the “ing”) Effect. This is a different book from the one I am talking about. Sometimes it comes up before The Gaslighting Effect in search results, so make sure you find the right book if you look it up.
I don’t want to see too much on this blog about my personal connection to the book – as Dana Carvey playing George H.W. Bush on SNL would say, “wouldn’t be prudent.” However, I will say that I have made myself something of a public figure by writing this blog the past 15 years; I have put myself out there far more than most people. People who read this blog know my habits, my likes and dislikes, who my friends are, which places I hang out, what things make me truly happy in life. I don’t regret any of it, I wouldn’t change a thing, but it makes me especially vulnerable to the tactics of abuse described in this book.
I could write many paragraphs more about the book, but I better not. I encourage those of you who have had your curiosity piqued to buy and read the book, or ask me about it face-to-face, or both.
MemphisWeather.net has a new blog post up about precipitation expected in the Mid-South tomorrow. This is shaping up to be the kind of day I absolutely HATE. In the morning it’s going to be raining and around 40… yet temperatures are going to fall throughout the day, hitting freezing around noon. As of the time MWN posted yesterday afternoon, for Wednesday afternoon they were expecting an accumulation of 1/10 of an inch of ice and 1/2 to 1 inch of snow.
The reason I hate this kind of forecast is that anyone who has the capability to work from home tomorrow, ought to do so, but how do you justify it when you call in at 8 AM and your manager goes, “You can’t get here because it’s 40 degrees and drizzling?” Let me make it clear: Memphis drivers DO NOT know how to drive on even the tiniest ice accumulations. They go too fast. They follow too close. They don’t understand that you can’t slam on the brakes. It’s not that I’m afraid of driving on ice. It’s that I’m afraid of driving on ice alongside IDIOTS.
(Edit: MWN tweeted this morning that new models coming in indicate the temperatures tomorrow may trend a few degrees warmer. I hope so but I’m still going to let my rant about ice and idiots stand)
On a better note about the weather, it looks very promising that sometime between noon and 5 tomorrow, Bardog Tavern will have $2 Fireball on special. Remember, it has to be actual snow. Sleet won’t do it. I won’t be joining you in partaking, but for those of you who shoot Fireball, enjoy… and be extra careful getting home.
Let’s move on to sports… we’ll start off with some good news, as the University of Memphis Tigers cheer team brought home a national championship Saturday. Congratulations to them! Way to make our city proud!
247Sports has an article on getting to know top Memphis commit James Wiseman. Wiseman is not a flashy player, instead exuding a quiet confidence. I like that. What’s the last time the Tigers had a true starting center? Shaq Goodwin, Tarik Black and Pierre Henderson-Niles may have played the 5 but they were really power forwards. Really, the Tigers have had starting lineups of two to four guards and one to three forwards for years and years, stretching back into the Calipari years. Even the year of the (vacated, thanks Cal) championship game, neither Robert Dozier or Joey Dorsey could really be called a center. Thinking about it, Lorenzen Wright may have been the last real 5.
The Grizzlies are having one of their beer tasting nights at Friday’s game. The special ticket gets you a tasting of featured beer Goose Island Elysian 6 and there are options for Pinnacle Level for $50 or Terrace Level at $40. The beer tasting starts at 5, followed by the Grizzlies getting blown out by the Sacramento Kings at 7.
I won’t be going to the beer tasting, because these days I need something at least 100 proof to be able to watch this team. They were absolutely terrible against the Pelicans yesterday on national TV, a game most commentators expected the Grizzlies to win since NOLA’s star Anthony Davis was sitting out. I don’t know why this team loses all interest in winning after 24 minutes of play. Of particular note was JaMychal Green, who logged 5 points and 6 fouls. I haven’t read Grizzly Bear Blues’ report card for last night’s game, but a grade even lower than F needs to be invented for what JaM did last night.
I’ve had it. It is time to blow it up. Nothing less than a major move is in order. In my opinion at least one of Wallace, Bickerstaff, JaM, Gasol, or Conley needs to be gone by the trade deadline. I don’t like the idea of it being Bickerstaff because it makes the Grizzlies’ revolving coaching door look even worse. I also don’t like the idea of losing The Conductor who is still in the prime of his career. However, I think it’s time to embrace the idea that this is Jaren’s team now and start building around him. Everyone except him, Kyle Anderson, and Dillon Brooks should be shopped on the trade market.
Let’s move on to football. I mentioned that my friend Rahul has been a real butthead to me a week ago Sunday at brunch, and therefore, since Rahul is a big Kansas City fan, I would be rooting for the Patriots in the AFC championship game. However, on Sunday I gave him an out: An apology and donuts might convince me to change my mind and root for the Chiefs. “None of that Krispy Kreme crap. I want good donuts, something like Gibson’s.” I told Rahul that I was watching the early game in the back room of the Blind Bear, and that he could have UberEats deliver the donuts if he didn’t want to lose his seat wherever he was watching the game.
About 3:45 Hanin, the bartender working brunch at the Blind Bear, came in the back room with a plastic bag. “Rahul had this dropped off for you,” she told me.
“Well!” I thought. “For once Rahul has decided to be a decent human being.” I was wrong. I opened the plastic bag and found this:
Rahul sent me Captain D’s fries covered in powdered sugar. That’s his idea of donuts. The Patriots beat the Chiefs and I am so glad they did.
It figured Rahul would frequent a place whose motto is “It’s Gotta Be D’s,” though.
As for the Saints-Rams game, what a horrible no-call. People are saying, “The rules will be changed so this won’t happen in future seasons.” Well, that’s nice. What about this season? What if NOLA players miss out on a Super Bowl ring because of a blown call? What if coaches miss out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses for reaching the Super Bowl?
For now, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Time to run a few errands then get out and about. Back tomorrow with more news.