Monday update

I don’t get the Red Ball Project at all. For those of you who don’t know, last week and this week a giant red ball that is supposedly a work of art is visiting locations around Memphis. It was at 409 S. Main yesterday and as far as I could tell, all it did was block the sidewalk. Perhaps the point is to make a media blitz that some random object coming to town is an artwork of importance, and then see how many people come take selfies with it. That’s “art” in 2016. Selfies.

Apologies for those of you who went by Maciel’s yesterday after I blogged it was open, and found it to be closed. I got that info from a reliable source – they told the person who is probably their best customer (he ate there twice Saturday) that they would be open, but I guess they changed their minds. Understandable – you have to have some rest or you burn out.

Last week I mentioned that there is a new cigar store on South Main. Its name is The Tinder Box and is at 346 S. Main.

Massively successful BBQ team Victory Lane BBQ now has its rub in Kroger. They were the grand champions at Southaven Springfest a couple of weeks ago. I also see signs that another top team may soon start selling its rub via mail too. I will try to get more info about that at BBQ Fest.

If you’re curious what caused all the wind damage this past weekend, has a blog on the wake low that affected the metro.

Train Day Memphis comes to the Railroad and Trolley Museum in Central Station Saturday, June 4. An Iowa Pacific “City of Granada” train set will be on display. There will also be E-units and passenger cars painted in Iowa Central brown and orange.

Ghost of the Blues will be on stage at the Orpheum this Friday. Said to be a “love letter to the blues,” it is headlined by Mud Morganfield, eldest son of Muddy Waters, stepping into the persona of his father.

The rescheduled MyHQ alley party is tomorrow night in Barboro Alley next to Local, with craft beer, DJ Alex Turley, ping pong, art displays, and that red ball I don’t understand.

Four and a half more workdays then my BBQ Fest vacation begins. Load-in is this Saturday through Tuesday of next week. Wednesday of next week is Friends & Family Night. Thursday-Saturday of next week are the public days and the Sunday following is load-out. Of course, I’m not allowed to be involved in the heavy lifting of load-in and load-out anymore given my new role on the team, but my public relations duties should keep me busy throughout the week.

Already getting way more “hey, can I come to your booth at BBQ Fest?” requests than I have guest wristbands to give out. To those who have asked, I will try my best to get you in, but due to us hitting capacity as set by the fire marshal during peak hours I can’t promise it. Reminds me, I have a “tips for getting into booths at BBQ Fest” in Drafts somewhere that I need to find and finish.

I have a BBQ meeting tonight at 7 at Blind Bear, so I may as well just go ahead and lead off there after work. Probably will have some news to put on the team website in the morning.

Finally! Wine Race pictures

Due to being woken up by screaming Music Festers, I have extra time to kill this morning. Remembering I still had Wine Race photos in the camera, I grabbed it and plugged it in. I was out of position for a lot of the photos and deleted more than half of what I took. Here are the ones that were left.

For those not familiar, teams of service industry staff compete in four events in Wine Race: An opening parade, a Queen of the Vine beauty pageant, a grape stomp, and a four-person wine relay. Lots of alcohol is consumed and things get pretty hilarious. It’s the last chance for these bar and restaurant employees to blow off steam before the busy Memphis in May season begins. Many of the bars and restaurants were from Downtown and Midtown, but there were some Tunica casino teams as well.

Note: This photo display is going to be dominated by one team, the Blind Bear. I make no effort to give the appearance that I am impartial. The Blind Bear is where I spend the most time, every one of the people who works there is my friend, and I can’t tell you how much I have appreciated their unswerving loyalty to me this past year.


And speaking of which, here is team Blind Bear. They won the opening parade.


Wine Race participant uniforms tend to represent the Memphis in May honored country, Canada this year. Therefore, lots of red and white and Canadian flags… and in the case of this team, a moose. We will hear more about this moose later.


More Canada-themed floats


This team did a throwback to the days of the Vancouver Grizzlies. Very clever.


Now we move on to Queen of the Vine, with lots of ass-shaking and bending over among the contestants. Well, well, well, look who got a spot in the front row to watch.


There’s an interview portion of Queen of the Vine. Leon somebody or other who’s on TV or radio or something (you can tell I did a lot of research for this post) asked each contestant a question.


This was a really well-done costume.


This contestant knew how to shake it.


Leon interviewing the Blind Bear contestant, my favorite pair of librarian glasses AKA Lacey.


The Vancouver Grizzly




Okay, you remember how I said I would have more to say about the moose? It joined this contestant on stage for her dance.


Yes, that is a dollar bill.


The Queen is crowned.

Before we continue, I want to stop here for a minute. You’ll notice that the queen is the contestant who danced on stage with the moose. However, the rules clearly state that no team member is allowed to join their Queen of the Vine contestant on stage. Therefore, it seems to be that she should have been disqualified and the crown should have been awarded to the second-place finisher… who was Lacey. A lot of people were saying Lacey was robbed, and I agree. It makes me wonder how political the judging is. If it’s a close call, are they going to give it to the team whose company is more likely to be a corporate sponsor for future Beale Street events?

Back to the photos.


Up next was the grape stomp. Bean had three minutes to produce as much juice as possible, using only his feet.


Gradually the Bear’s Sunday Fun Day crew found its way down to Beale. In the red shirts, from left to right: Colin, Tony, B-RAD, Rahul, Mary, and Stacey.


Wine relay time. Teams of four competed, two at one end and two at the other. Each team member has to uncork a bottle of wine, pour a glass, then put the bottle, glass, and opener on the tray and run to the other end. Each additional team member adds another bottle and glass. Colin was up first, uncorking the first bottle of wine.


Contestants have hurdles to jump on their way to the other side.


Prior to the event I took an informal poll on who of the Blind Bear team would be the one to drop the tray. The result of the poll was unanimous. It also turned out to be correct.


Jeannette was the third leg of the race.


B-RAD was up last.

Speed is not the only measurement of how a team did in Wine Race. At the end of the relay, the amount of wine left in their bottles and glasses is measured and factored into the final score.

The Bear lost to another team in the same heat, so I decided not to stick around and watch the end of the race. It was getting hot outside and I was getting dehydrated and cranky. The Call-a-Cab I had at Wet Willie’s probably didn’t help. Special thanks to Brinton who did an excellent job holding down the bar at the Blind Bear while the team was competing down the road.

Okay, let’s try this WordPress photo gallery thing. Here are all the photos I took:

Wow, I thought that would look like hot crap on a stick due to images being different sizes, but WordPress handled it well. Nice to know, because that means I can do complete photo galleries for BBQ Fest on here, rather than having to use Facebook.

All right, back to my day of barhopping and people-watching. I’ll be back tomorrow with more news probably.

New donut shop opens on Main + Sunday brunch recommendations

Ah, Music Fest weekend, hurry up and get over. I left my apartment for Bardog at 10:50 AM yesterday. It’s only a 1 minute walk, but I knew people would get there early and wait for the door to open. Was I ever right; there were already 4 people in line at 10:51. By the time 11:00 rolled around, the line had increased to 15. Unfortunately Bloom didn’t put a “reserved for John D, Clay and Paul” sign on the three corner seats and the people ahead of me beat me to them. We ended up at the far end of the bar, which had completely filled up by 11:05. On a normal Saturday, the bar doesn’t fill up until noon or later.

By 11:30 there were tourists hovering behind me, reaching over me to order drinks. I got more and more annoyed and finally tabbed out, making one of my earliest Saturday exits ever.

Now, here’s what was weird. Bardog was packed to the gills, but as I walked past Local, there was no one on the patio. Aldo’s Pizza Pies had two people on the patio. When I walked in Blind Bear, I found that they had brought in a second bartender, to help serve the grand total of 0 people who were there when I arrived. How is it that one bar can be so busy and others so empty?

I guess the patios may have been empty because of the wind, which was strong enough to blow out a window at Family Dollar.

My favorite pair of librarian glasses and Mary were bartending. My fav pair of librarian glasses gave me some news worth passing on: Maciel’s Tortas and Tacos has homemade tamales on Friday and Saturday. They have chicken tamales, and for the information of any vegetarians reading this blog, they have bell pepper tamales too. These are off-menu items, so I am not positive they have them every Friday and Saturday, but I was told that generally they do.

(Edit 9:50 AM: I just found out that Maciel’s is OPEN today. Usually on Sundays they are closed.)

About 1:00 I was checking Facebook on my phone, and I noticed three photos of a counter holding pastries and a cooler posted by my friend Chef Michael Patrick, who said he was “checking out the new place.”

“Where?” I replied.

“It’s a new donut shop,” the Chef replied. He said it’s open 24 hours Music Fest weekend, and he wasn’t sure but he thought it might be 24 hours every day.

A donut shop anywhere Downtown is good news. However, the Chef had even better news for me.

“Walk out your front door, hang a right, walk 10 feet, and you’re there. It’s at 8 South Main.”

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :mrgreen:

Donuts a 1-second walk from my front door? That’s what I call a top-quality tenant for my building!

I bet I have quite a few out-of-towners reading my blog this morning, trying to decide where to go eat before you walk down to Tom Lee Park for Day 3 of Music Fest. Here are a few suggestions from a local who has been doing Sunday Fun Day down here for 13 years.

Rizzo’s Diner – This is Michael Patrick’s restaurant, the chef who told me about the donut shop. He is one of the best chefs in the city and he makes a fantastic brunch. I recommend the catfish Benedict (they have a vegetarian version too). Really, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Rizzo’s is in the South Main district, at the corner of Main and Butler, across Butler from the fire station.

Majestic Grille – This restaurant in the Downtown core is located in an old movie theater, and they still have a big screen on which they show movies and cartoons from the 1930s. Their menu is “dramatic dining,” which I interpret to mean upscale American cuisine. Again, you can’t go wrong here, but I’ll give you a few picks: The smoked salmon hash, the breakfast flatbread, and the Filet Mignon Benedict. In my opinion the Majestic cooks the best filet Downtown. If you want a more basic start to the day, try John D’s Breakfast, with two eggs, bacon, cheddar cheese, grits and biscuits. The Majestic is owned by my friends Patrick and Deni Reilly, two Downtown stakeholders who are active in the community. The restaurant celebrates its 10th birthday later this spring. It’s on the very southern end of the Main Street Mall, just north of Peabody Place (the street, not the abandoned mall). This place has one of the best patios in Memphis.

Blind Bear – If you’re looking to lead off the day at a place that is more bar than restaurant, this ’20s style speakeasy is the spot for you. It was opened in 2011 by my friends Jeannette and Jamie West and Colin Bergstrom. The Sunday brunch bartender, Brad Wilson (known as “B-RAD” to the regulars), is in my opinion the best bartender in the city. The bar has a colorful group of regulars – including me, so if you go there between 11 and 2ish it is possible you  will meet me. The regulars seem to hit new standards of behavior every week, and notice I did not say high standards. I only have one recommendation for food here – not because everything on the menu isn’t good, it is, but because this one item is an absolute must try: Crawfish mac & cheese. As for drinks, they have a full menu of craft cocktails, and on Sundays they have Bloody Mary, mimosa, and Fireball specials. If you just want a beer, may I recommend the PBR? The Bear is on the same block of the Main Street Mall as the Majestic, near the intersection with Gayoso Avenue.

On a side note, I think back to last Sunday, when Brad received a coveted invitation to Squeal Street BBQ’s booth at BBQ Fest in a couple of weeks. If my name comes up, that could be an eye-opening conversation indeed for members of that team.

Oshi Burger – An Asian take on a burger joint, this restaurant is on the Main Street Mall between Union and Gayoso. I’ll start off with two words: alcoholic milkshakes. The chocolate mint one is my favorite. They have an array of gourmet burgers, hot dogs, and sides. The namesake Oshi Burger is my favorite of the burgers. It melts in your mouth like butter. For hot dogs, I like the Danger Dog (wrapped in bacon) and Mary HAD a Little Lamb (with lamb sausage). The kimchi fries are good too.

Aldo’s Pizza Pies – If you need to grab something quick that you can eat on your way to the river, Aldo’s has a by-the-slice to-go case that usually has pepperoni pizza, sausage pizza, cheese pizza, veggie pizza, and the Slice of the Day. They also have whole pies as well as sandwiches and salads. The pizza is New York style that you can fold over and eat. My whole pie recommendation for non-Memphians has gotta be The Memphis. It’s topped with Central BBQ pulled pork and sauce, mozzarella, red onion, and cole slaw. You can also build your own pizza with a wide array of sauces, cheeses, and toppings. You can even get an anchovy pizza here. They have a bar area with 30 beers on tap and PBR and 29 other beers in cans or bottles. Aldo’s is in the same block of the Main Street Mall as Oshi, between Union and Gayoso. They also have a great patio. Main Street is an absolute freak show during Music Fest so this is a great day for patio dining.

Bardog Tavern – It seems most of you have already found this one, but for the few who haven’t, this is a true locals’ bar in the Downtown core. It has been there 8 years but it feels like it has been there 30. The food is unusually good considering it too is more bar than restaurant. They have breakfast sliders and a few other items on the menu, but what you really want to do is look at the board above the kitchen window. They have Bloody Mary, mimosa and screwdriver specials for brunch. They also have PBR on tap and I believe they also have at least one beer on tap from every Memphis craft brewery (Ghost River, Memphis Made, High Cotton, Wiseacre). Upstairs is smoking and downstairs is nonsmoking. (By the way, of the others on this list, only the Blind Bear allows smoking.) Bardog is on Monroe Avenue between Front and Main. It’s owned by Aldo who also owns Aldo’s Pizza Pies. By the way if you are staying out in Midtown, check out Aldo’s other bar Slider Inn or the Midtown Aldo’s Pizza Pies location.

Not even 6:30 yet and I’m publishing this long post. The reason for that is I was woken up at 3:50 in the morning by people screaming and engines revving. So ready for Music Fest to be over.

We almost had a BBQ team board meeting today, but Music Fest prevented it. We couldn’t meet Downtown, because the people who don’t live down here would have had to pay $25 to park. We couldn’t have it anywhere else, because the people who live down here would either lose their parking spaces or pay an upcharge for an Uber. So the meeting has been postponed until tomorrow, leaving me free for D-RANKS with B-RAD at the Bear. I may hit South Main later in the afternoon.


Saturday update

Yesterday evening the rain let up, so I made the journey down to my “home away from home on the south side,” Max’s Sports Bar. Max was there and he told me he was thinking about doing a crawfish boil soon. Crawfish boils at Max’s are excellent, but he hasn’t had one in several years. I think the last one was around the time the 2012 group photo was taken. This is very very very tentative, but he told me he was thinking about the first Saturday of May, which would be May 7. I have nothing on my calendar that day, so I would be up for it. Again, this is tentative at this point, but I will keep you informed.

Also on Saturday, May 7, live music returns to Loflin Yard. Dead Soldiers play 8 AM to midnight.

Interested in playing sandlot baseball? Sandlot Memphis is gearing up for a second season. Anyone interested is welcome to come to an organizational meeting at the High Cotton taproom in The Edge Wednesday, May 11 at 6 PM. You don’t have to have any particular skill at baseball, just a general knowledge of the game and a willingness to represent yo ‘hood.

The Redball Project is at Beale Street Landing today. If you go to Music Fest you’ll be able to see a big red ball on the way in. Yay.

There’s a burlesque show at Earnestine & Hazel’s tonight. My next-door neighbor is one of the performers. Doors at 8:30, show at 9:30. $10 cover, $20 VIP. This is a 21 and over show.

Thursday I put out a request for volunteers to sign up for help with load-in, load-out, kitchen, and side dishes for the Moody Ques. I was blown away by the response. In my 10 years on BBQ teams I have never seen so many people so willing to help. The team email box was blowing up all afternoon. Yesterday I posted on the team website thanking everyone for their responses and within three hours, another six emails offering help had come in. My mind is just blown how different this team is from a year ago. We’ve got a committed group of people, our cooking is close to getting on par with the top-level teams, and although our team president keeps emphasizing that we are a cooking-first team, I want to emphasize something else… we are the BEST DAMN PARTY IN TOM LEE PARK and that is not going to change. You want to get a taste of the music we will have? Go to the Silly Goose tonight. DJ Cody. That’s our guy. He can’t bring his equipment but there’s no rule that says a team member can’t hook up an iPod to our sound system. So if you want to hang with the team that brings the damn party, come visit the Moody Ques. Team members who haven’t signed up for load-in/load-out yet and want to can email and let us know your availability.

Oh by the way, that sound system? That’s another way the team has matured. We BOUGHT it this year. This is something I have been riding the team’s ass about for years… in the past we have rented too often, or bought items only to throw them away after BBQ Fest and buy them again the following year. I am so happy to see us acquiring, storing, and re-using assets. That’s going to make the budget so much easier to manage in future years.

Not gonna let a little rain stop me from my day’s activities… Farmers market is first up, then Bardog, then maybe a little people-watching on Beale. Time to hit Publish and head south. Back tomorrow.

New dive bar The Dirty Crow Inn has opened + Friday news

After 14 years of watching my neighborhood grow, a milestone I have been expecting has finally happened: The Downtown bar scene has extended to the other side of Crump. The Dirty Crow Inn opened this week, after several months of preparation, at the corner of Crump and Kentucky. It is described as a “5 star dive bar” with eight beers on draft, four TVs, and homemade food. It is open 7 days a week 11 AM to 3 AM, so it’s an option for those who want to post-game Music Fest. I drove past the place on my way to work this morning, and the outside is about as dive bar as it gets.

Thai street food vendor Pranom Pop-Up is at Sache today noon to 9, rain or shine.

If any of my pilot friends are looking to change companies, FedEx is hiring a a corporate pilot.

Another interesting-sounding job opening is for a Geographical Information Specialist at the post office.

Paxton Lynch has been drafted by the Denver Broncos. The Broncos moved up in the draft via trade to get the former Memphis Tigers QB. This seems like a superb fit. Lynch just couldn’t have asked for a better organization where he can reach his full potential.

The Redbirds have announced a couple of special promotions happening in early May. The team will celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Thursday, May 5, with TruGreen Bluff tickets for $12 and Field Box tickets for $15. Holders of these tickets get an all-you-can-eat taco buffet from 6:30 to 8:30 in the left field picnic area, and can purchase $5 margaritas as well. Want tacos but not hungry enough for all-you-can-eat? They will be sold for $2 each at other vendor locations in the park.

All you can eat tacos? Bet the Nuh-Uh Girl wishes she was back in Memphis. By the way, welcome back to her sister the Nuh-Uh Sister, who will be moving back to Memphis in 3 weeks.

AutoZone Park will have a special Mother’s Day package for $89. The package, suitable for a gift to a mother who loves baseball, includes four field box tickets for the Saturday, May 21 game, It also includes four vouchers for King Cotton hot dogs and Cokes. There will be fireworks after the game. In addition, the gift includes a $25 voucher to Seasons 52 restaurant and the opportunity for a pre-game family photo on the field. Only 50 packages will be sold. They can be purchased here.

I had another moment recently where people whispered “Is that Paul who writes the blog?” but were afraid to come over and say hello. Those moments amuse me but the fear of talking to me is unfounded. I remember a Saturday back in September 2009, when Downtown Central BBQ didn’t exist yet so I rode out to the Midtown location with my friends Clay and Lee. As we stood in line to order, there was some whispering in the back of the room and I heard my name once or twice. Finally Clay turned around and shouted, “YES! THAT’S PAUL RYBURN!” It’s amusing because my friends know me as a normal Downtowner who does normal Downtown things. I just happen to write about it. Otherwise, I’m no different from anyone else.

Another story in the same vein… I remember one day back in early 2015, I was at the bar at the Blind Bear. It was the last Saturday shift B-RAD worked before my favorite pair of librarian glasses took over and he switched to Sundays. After I’d been there about an hour and a half, B-RAD came over to me and told me that someone who reads my blog had just left. This reader had been asking about me, Brad said, and wanted to come talk to me but was too shy. I just want my readers to know there are no barriers to having a conversation with me, then or now. Feel free to approach me.

I also want to give my readers an inside tip. A lot of people don’t make it to the Shoulder division at BBQ Fest because it’s the southernmost from the Beale Street entrance. However, the Shoulder division is the best one. Definitely don’t let the distance or any other reason stop you from walking down to Shoulder and visiting the teams you know.

Music Fest goers: City Market has ponchos for sale. That’s the grocery at the northeast corner of Main and Union.

The Schwag: The Grateful Dead Experience plays the New Daisy tonight.

MPD will have officers out directing traffic tonight as far east as Third, as far south as Vance, and as far north as Union. They will let traffic flow freely until the festival ends, then may close streets to direct traffic out of the area (which sounds like to me they want to discourage cruising, which I can agree with). If Front becomes severely congested they may close it going southbound from Jefferson to MLK.

The Daily News has alternate transit information for Music Fest. Given the weather, I bet those bike racks don’t get much use tonight.
A gift package to Memphis and BBQ Fest was given away on The Price Is Right yesterday. Watch it here.

Time to get back to work. I asked to work from home this afternoon so I could get home and parked before the Music Fest crowd got down here. When the rain started moving in, I moved back my departure time from 1 to 10. My trip to South Main tonight looks out of the question, so most likely I will take my own advice about people-watching from the Silly Goose patio for happy hour. Everyone be careful driving home, and have a good weekend.

Lettuce Toss it Up at the Memphis Farmers Market, plus Thursday news

Tomorrow night, Friday, April 29, is South Main Trolley Night, with shops and galleries in the area open late. As I posted earlier, there will be happy hour live music at South Main Sounds. There will also be live music at Double J, The Green Beetle, Earnestine & Hazel’s, outside of Guiding Point Financial, Obsidian PR, Rizzo’s Diner, Cafe Pontotoc and maybe more. Art will include Nosey42 at Stock & Belle and Women Who Paint at Art Village Gallery.

There’s a chance of storms tomorrow, but weather permitting I plan to make it down to Trolley Night. Of course, I hope to see my South Main friends down there, but it would be a pleasure to see people from other Downtown neighborhoods as well, for example Harbor Town, South End, and The Edge.

Lettuce Toss it Up is the theme at the Memphis Farmers Market this Saturday. In his 1996 movie Bring the Pain, Chris Rock talks about getting his salad tossed with either jelly or syrup. He prefers syrup. Did you know that you can get salad ingredients, jelly, and syrup at the Memphis Farmers Market? The Market had a tip for patrons: If your lettuce begins to wilt on a hot car drive home, placing it in a bowl of icy water will bring it back to life. Live music by Ted Horrell 8:30-10 and Ashlee Thomas 11-12:30. The Farmers Market is at the corner of Front and G.E. Patterson every Saturday from 7 AM to 1 PM through the fall.

Learn about chow chow from “Lil” Bit of Country in this week’s vendor chitchat.

I have a couple of links to share with Market patrons. First of all, kale is SO 2015. Here are three super-greens you probably hadn’t heard of that you need to try. Given that they think we haven’t heard of turnip greens, I’m pretty sure this article was written by a Northerner.

Interesting argument from Mashable: It’s impossible to be a vegetarian. The argument is that while animals eat plants and other animals, plants eat animals and other plants. They derive their nutrition from the soil, which is partly made up of decaying plant and animal matter. So when you eat a plant, you are eating animals. It’s all one big eco-system. Now that this matter has been cleared up, why not get in the car, stop by the dumpster to drop off the tempeh and the quinoa, and drive to Tops for a cheeseburger topped with some pulled pork?

Last month I mentioned that Diamond Dave and Seamus were going to perform on their new guitars tomorrow night in the Cavern at the Brass Door. Unfortunately that will have to be postponed, because Seamus is traveling to St. Louis.

Memphis in May warns of a ticketing scam. Buy your tickets online and print them at home, or buy from authorized vendors. Don’t buy from “Got Tickets? Need Tickets?” guy standing on the street. Those tickets are possibly duplicates that will be rejected at the gate by the bar code reader. I have had friends who have been scammed this way.

The Downtown Neighborhood Association is having its monthly happy hour at Loflin Yard today.

Moody Ques: We have a new team information post on the website. Of particular note is the menu, which includes brisket cooked by a Texan and “Frank’s Special Surprise” Friday night. Unfortunately Al Roker’s team had to back out due to a conflict.

More and more it’s looking like liar vs. liar in the fall general election. The pawn of the banks vs. the billionaire megalomaniac. Hillary basically admitted that she takes political positions because they’re expedient, not because they’re necessarily what she truly believes. Sadly, I am probably going to be casting a ballot for this woman in November. I will do so reluctantly.

That’s it for now. Normally Thursday is Silly Goose day but yesterday it was just too damn crowded and they ran out of PBR, so I am going to lead off at Blind Bear instead. Pam and Terry play at 10 so I will probably stay a while.

Al Roker to captain a BBQ team + Wednesday news

Uh oh, looks like I’m going to face some stiff competition at BBQ Fest this year. Today Show weatherman Al Roker is leading a shoulder team at Memphis in May. Roker’s Smokers is his team, and he is said to be very serious about it, with an intention of winning Grand Champion. Roker is a known BBQ lover and has even written a book on the subject. Al, I know you will be busy in the kitchen, but if you have a chance to get down to S-319 The Moody Ques for a minute, my team would love to meet you and I bet my cooks Frank and Erik would love to talk BBQ with you.

Cruisin’ Heavy headlines the Peabody rooftop party tomorrow night. $10 cover gets you live entertainment as well as a buffet of New Orleans red beans and rice and Andouille sausage. Pineapple margaritas are the margarita special this week, and the drink special is Firefly peach sangria. If you’re a VIP ($150 for a VIP season pass, sold at the door) you get a second buffet of shrimp Creole, chicken and Andouille jambalaya, and mini crab cakes. VIPs also get a tasting of Wiseacre Neon Brown from 5 to 6. Doors open at 6, band at 7.

Dawn Vinson of Daydreaming on Paper will present a workshop at South Main Book Juggler at 548 S. Main from 1 to 2:30 PM Saturday, May 7. For $10 participants will make a soft-cover, single-signature notebook and will get ideas on ways to use it. There will be hands-on instruction, journal exercises, and a handout for future reference. This class is suitable for beginners. I don’t know Dawn personally but I recommend this class. Journaling has helped me uncover secondary facts about my life that might have stayed below the surface had I not had a conversation with myself.

Memphis FootGolf Fest will happen Sunday, May 22 out in Cordova. Check it out if you are a fan of playing golf, but with a soccer ball.

Park(ing) Day Memphis happens tomorrow, April 28, from 12 to 6:30 PM. The concept re-imagines public spaces, with parallel parking spaces on the street turned into miniature pop-up parks. The event will happen in front of the Halloran Centre on Main.

USA Today has a good article on Paxton Lynch and what life is like with his friends away from football.

High Cotton Brewery has announced that the 5th and 10th customers today will get a free pint, with the 15th receiving a free trucker hat. Their taproom opens at 4.

Not going to Music Fest Friday night but want a patio view of people going by? I’ve always found the Silly Goose patio to be excellent for that during happy hour. If you’ve never seen the people who come in town for Music Fest, it is a freak show and a half and the Goose is a great place to watch. Saturday and Sunday late morning to mid-afternoon, Beale Street is ideal for people watching.

Felicia Suzanne’s hosts communal cooking classes. Contact if interested.

That’s it for now… time to run to Target and buy a pair of earplugs in case anyone hovers behind my group and prattles on endlessly about their cat this evening. I have a Moody Ques board meeting at 7, so I suspect I will have information to put out to the team at some point tomorrow.

Tuesday update #2

In case you didn’t end your day on a highlight yesterday, Scott Van Pelt of ESPN devoted his 1 Big Thing segment to the Grizzlies last night. SVP: “You can honor yourselves in defeat. The Grizzlies did.” Completely agree. Congratulations Grizzlies, because given what you had to work with, you exceeded expectations.

Hot Rods on Beale starts tonight at 6. It will happen the 4th Tuesday of every month through the fall.

Jerry “The King” Lawler’s new bar opens at 159 Beale this Friday with my friend Eric Hughes playing there from 5 to 8. There will be Slamburgers, Pile Driver drinks, and plenty of wrestling memorabilia.

Felicia Suzanne’s has added a Grit Bowl to its menu, with organic stone ground Hanna Farm Grits, brown butter, and Bonnie Blue feta.

Details of Tubby Smith’s contract with the University of Memphis have been released. Like Pastner, he will get 100% of his buyout if fired without cause, but there are no rollover clauses. In other Tiger news, the NCAA is expected to make a rule change Thursday that will allow Keelon Lawson to be reassigned to a non-coaching role, keeping his sons Dedric and K.J. here in Memphis.

I have posted trophy photos from Southaven on the Moody Ques website. Team members – check your email please. If you did not get an email last night email and I will fix it.

I posted this morning before work, so scroll down to read more Tuesday news. Leaning toward a lead-off at Brass Door for happy hour, then will decide my next stop after that.

Tuesday update

Downtown Memphis is a place where anything can happen. About 9 I was sitting at the Blind Bear, thinking, “Gonna call it an early night. Soon as I finish this beer I’m out.” Next thing I knew, I was showing tourists around. I took them to Silky’s patio because they wanted to see the goats. Then they were hungry and I described the Double-Double from Dyer’s and they thought that sounded perfect. We walked down there to find that Dyer’s closes earlier than I thought on weekdays. So I took them to Kooky Canuck for Yonge St. Burgers. Fun night.

Prior to that, they had wrestling on at the Blind Bear for a while. If you grew up in the ’90s watching The Rock, or the ’80s watching Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair, the next big talker in the business has arrived. Introducing Enzo Amore and Big Cass:

My name… is Enzo Amore. And I’m a certified G, and a bonafide stud. And You Can’t. Teach. That. And this right here, this is Big Cass. And he is seven foot tall… And You Can’t. Teach. That. Ba da boom, realest guys in the room. HOWYOUDOIN’!

A big red ball that has been all over the world is coming to Memphis. It will be Downtown for Music Fest weekend at the New Daisy, Beale Street Landing, and 409 S. Main. On May 3 it will be at the MyHQ block party in Barboro Alley.

Memphis Magazine has a great article about the DJ at the best nightclub in the world. Raiford has been going strong for over 40 years.

Another well-known Downtowner, Shawn Danko of Kooky Canuck, talks about food from Canada as we head into Memphis in May.

South Main Sounds is doing a special early songwriter night Friday so people can catch their event then head to Memphis in May. It happens 5:30-7:00 in the evening at 550 S. Main. Ashlee K. Thomas, Chris Hill, Lydia Waldrop, Todd Poole and Amy Jamison-Poole will perform.

The Redbirds have a $40 ticket to their exclusive club level tonight. I think this may be the one I blogged about a couple of days ago that includes food, beer, and wine. They play the Round Rock Express at 6:35 with the gates at 5:30. There are $1 King Cotton hot dogs every Tuesday.

Heading out to work. Possibly another post later today.

Spinach and onion pakoras @ Memphis Farmers Market, Moody Ques win a trophy and more Sunday news

As I have said many times, there is a lot more to love about the Memphis Farmers Market than simply fresh produce. Yesterday I visited my favorite food truck at the market, the tandoori truck, and tried an item I had never had before.

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Spinach and onion pakoras with a side of veggies and yogurt for dipping. This was a monstrous amount of food for $7. Cooked from scratch and it only took about 5 minutes. They have sauces you can put on your food at the tandoori truck, including an Indian plum sauce and several of the hot sauces sold at the market. The pakoras are hot when you get them, so it’s a good idea to wait a couple of minutes before digging in. By the way, I don’t know if I have any vegetarians who read this blog, but on the off-chance that I do, more than half the items the tandoori truck sells are meatless.

I found a seat at a table in the main corridor of the market, where I had plenty of room to eat my pakoras as I watched people shop.


What is the Memphis Farmers Market, Alex?

My seat in the front part of the main corridor gave me an excellent vantage point to people-watch. And many of the people were women in yoga pants! “Why have I not been coming here every week for the entire 11-year run of the market?” I wondered as I watched people walk around.

After finishing my food, I was a man on a mission. My Saturday brunch bartender Bloom had mentioned that she wanted some mint so she could make mojitos. “They sell it at the grocery store, but in such huge bags that I throw most of it away,” Bloom told me. After visiting several vendors selling green, leafy stuff including lots of kale, I found what I was looking for.

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I found a perfect-sized bundle of mint for Bloom for only $2. “Which one is the mint?” I had to ask the vendor, because it was indistinguishable to me from all the other green produce.

The Farmers Market runs every Saturday from 7 AM to 1 PM at the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson. It runs well into the fall months. The weather was beautiful yesterday but at one point I found myself wishing it was late September as I walked around the market.

I forgot that Bardog gets super busy super early the day of Hot Wing Fest. I am known for getting there right at 11 and being the first person in the door (or second if my “DAWG” John D goes in first). Yesterday I got there precisely at 11, yet I was the 12th person in the door! I barely got a seat at the bar! Luckily it was near the window so I could watch people go by as they walked to Wing Fest… and watch MLGW dig up Monroe Avenue, as they have been doing every day for the past four months.

About 2 I walked over to Wing Fest. I was happy to pay my $15 to support the Ronald McDonald House but I didn’t stay long. I made one loop through the park and I was out. Only about 20% of teams had wings out as I walked around and there were long lines for those that did have them. Too many strollers, too many people who didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other. If I go next year, my friends the Pirtles have a VIP option for an additional donation to the Ronald McDonald House and I may do that. At any rate, by 2:45 I was headed south to see my favorite pair of librarian glasses at the Blind Bear.

I considered a trip south to Max’s Sports Bar at 4:30, but decided I was comfortable where I was and remained at the Bear. Before long texts from Southaven started coming in. The Moody Ques were down there competing at Springfest and the results were good. For the first time since we started competing under our current name, we won a trophy for food! We took third in the Seafood competition. I know Erik is our point man on seafood, so congratulations to him as well as Frank, Clay, John D and everyone else who was part of the Southaven event.

There was more good news: We finished 12th out of approximately 50 teams in Shoulder. This was said to have been a better finish than our 9th in Atoka because of the number of teams.

Hey gang, someone want to take a photo of the trophy and text it or email it to me? That absolutely needs to be on the team website.

I would also like to congratulate my friend Heath and his team Victory Lane BBQ on their Grand Champion win at a MBN/KCBS event yesterday at Springfest. Great job!

Keelon Lawson has made it publicly known that if Tigers basketball coach Tubby Smith does not retain him as an assistant, his sons K.J. and Dedric are done with the University of Memphis, and they can say goodbye to 2019 prospect Chandler and 2021 prospect Johnathan. I know this is an unpopular opinion but I think Tubby needs to show Mr. Lawson the door. How can Tubby make the program his own if one of his employees bullies him and has the ammo to continue to bully him until possibly 2025?

As I walked down Main Street on my way to the Farmers Market yesterday, I noticed that a new cigar lounge is soon to open on the block between Pontotoc and Vance, on the east side of the street.

Tuesday night the Orpheum will have a free public showing of 1989 movie Purple Rain, a special tribute to Prince. If you’re thinking about bringing the kids, might want to keep in mind that this movie is rated R due to sexuality, nudity, and violence.

Cafe Pontotoc is hosting a reservations-only Cinco de Mayo supper on Sunday, May 1. $45 charge. The restaurant will open at 6 and serve dinner at 7. There will be chips and dip, build-your-own tacos, baked chicken enchiladas or spinach enchiladas with rice and beans, and tres leche. To drink there will be margaritas, Mezcal with salsa chasers, and Mexi-beers. Call 901-249-7655 for reservations.

It’s Debauchery Day! Beale Street Wine Race kicks off with an opening parade into Handy Park at 1 PM, followed by Queen of the Vine, the grape stomp, and the wine relay. If you’re not driving, get you a Call-a-Cab across the street at Wet Willie’s. Know how I joke about being “the bad, bad man with a smoothie in his hand” at the Farmers Market? I really am a bad, bad man when there’s a Call-a-Cab in my hand on Beale Street. Of course I will be supporting Team Blind Bear. About to head down there now to see if my favorite pair of librarian glasses needs any help slipping into her Queen of the Vine outfit. Back tomorrow with more news!