Quick post

Hey everyone, really not much of a post today, sorry. I’ve had my mind on other things besides Downtown news as I prepare to be off a week for BBQ Fest.

I do have one piece of advice for other BBQ teams. People like me who take off the whole week tend to live like we’re on another planet, a planet of staple guns, Visqueen, forklifts, Natty Light, scaffolding, and charcoal. We tend to miss any news that happens.

Don’t do that next week. Next week could be the most significant week in national news in over 40 years. Put some good news sources on your Twitter feed and check it periodically.

I may be taking a week vacation from a company that sanctions a card game… but we could all be playing in notrump pretty soon.

I’m not taking a vacation from this blog though, so check back.

BBQ Fest 2008: It’s always darkest before the dawn

2007 was the first year for The Ques Brothers, the team that was the predecessor to my team The Moody Ques. One of our teammates worked for Terex at the time and arranged a generous sponsorship. We had a large, two story booth wrapped in an image of Terex equipment. There was plenty of food, plenty of booze, everyone had a good time and we all agreed that we wanted there to be a second year.

However, 2008 would have its challenges.

For one thing, our teammate with the Terex connection had moved on to another company. Also, Memphis in May created a new rule that sponsor signs on the outside of booths had to fit certain measurements; as a result, the Terex wrap became illegal. For those reasons, Terex decided not to return as a sponsor. We arranged a small sponsorship with Downtown restaurant Circa by John Bragg, but we could not find a presenting, title sponsor who would put up the several thousands of dollars that Terex did.

On April 23 of that year, we had a team meeting at the Flying Saucer. Team captain Chuck told us that we were three grand in the red. It’s one of the few times I have ever raised my voice at a team meeting. “Why didn’t you tell me we were that far in the red?” I told Chuck. “I could have used my blog to recruit sponsors, and more members.” I had no idea our outlook was that bleak.

The team leaders assured me that everything was fine, that we would get through this.

The lack of sponsorship money meant that we couldn’t afford to pay a company to erect scaffolding. That would have meant that a two-story booth was out of the question, which would have been bad news because the river view from the second story was one of the major draws to our booth. We (or at least I) wanted to establish the Ques Brothers as one of the best parties in Tom Lee Park, and it would be very hard to do that on one story.

However, we had an out. You can only erect scaffolding that did not come from a Memphis in May-approved vendor if you own the scaffolding. We had a team member who owned scaffolding. Yay, problem solved!

…Well, until we got to load-in and saw the scaffolding. It was rickety, shitty, and possibly dangerous. It only covered about a third of the length of the booth. It nearly fell over when we had a forklift erect it. But on our limited budget, we would have to make do.

The scaffolding was not raised, so we spent a good portion of the week (into Thursday, the first public day at the time) nailing wooden boards together so we would have something to walk on other than mud. To make our booth look nice for the judges, we laid donated carpet samples of all different sizes and colors over the boards. Instead of a sharp-looking wrap for the outside of our booth, we had fabric. The booth was by no means a palace – and the Valero booth next door with a $30,000 budget made it look even worse by comparison – but we would have to make do.

We got through Friends & Family Night on Wednesday, but overnight storms moved through Downtown Memphis, ripping our fabric decorations to pieces. Our booth was a shambles when we arrived Thursday morning. We spent hours redecorating and sweeping out mud, trying to make our booth look as good as we could – really, trying to make our booth less horrible would be a better way to phrase it. It really looked like Mr. Murphy of Murphy’s Law had visited us in every possible way.

Then amazing things started to happen.

Thursday night we hooked up the iPod to the sound system, shined a spotlight on a disco ball I had donated, and the party began. And before long it became THE place to be in Tom Lee Park. Our teammates were there, our friends were there, and quite a few owners of Downtown businesses paid us a visit. Everyone wanted to get in. There was plenty of beer, and everyone in the booth was dancing. To this day I would rank Thursday night of BBQ Fest ’08 as the best party the Ques Brothers or any of its successor teams ever threw. I looked over at the $30,000 booth next door with the Valero corporate sponsorship and thought, “Beautiful booth… but we’re having more fun than they are.”

Friday night we had a birthday party for one of our team members. It was not as wild as Thursday night, but there was just such a feeling of team unity. We were all in this thing together.

Saturday, of course, was judging day. The shoulder teams always go first, with the judges coming between 11 AM and noon. I prefer not to arrive at the booth until after the judges have left, so I pre-gamed at the Saucer that day, not getting to the park until a little after 2 PM.

I found my teammates standing outside our booth quietly. Inside our team leaders and head cook were presenting to judges. I was confused. “What’s going on?” I asked a teammate. “I didn’t think they ever came this late to shoulder teams.”

“If the judges come back a second time, it means you’ve made the top 10 in your division. If they come back again, you’ve made the top 3. This is the judges’ third visit.”

TOP THREE! We were going on stage! We were getting a trophy! We were getting prize money! Sure enough, about 6:45 this evening, the announcement was made. “Third place in shoulder, the Ques Brothers.” We all went up on stage and collected our trophy.

Thanks to the prize money, along with tips left at the bar and a last-minute recruitment drive, we finished the year with money in the bank, having dug out of that $3000 hole from only three weeks before.

Our head cook at the time, Willie Wagner, took the trophy back to his Chicago restaurant Honky Tonk Barbeque. A month later, Mayor Richard M. Daley came out to the restaurant to issue a proclamation congratulating Willie for representing the Windy City well at the world championships of BBQ.

After our Thursday night party and our Saturday night trip to the stage, scraping together enough money was not an issue in 2009. Many people wanted to join our team, with membership ballooning to about 70. Matt Mullenweg, head honcho of WordPress (the very WordPress used to publish this blog) and a huge BBQ fan, heard about our 3rd place finish and offered a WordPress sponsorship. In addition, Holliday Flowers came on board as booth design sponsor, seeing a unique opportunity to show off what they can do for event design. The professional scaffolding was back, and the booth was beautiful and the floor was raised off the mud. Only one year later, we had a better booth than the ’08 Valero booth.

Just a reminder that things can change quickly at BBQ Fest. Optimistic about 2017!

Thursday update

Last night the Moody Ques met at the Holliday Flowers warehouse and staged bars, tables, chairs, and storage units for BBQ Fest load-in. Deputy Director of Public Relations Perjorie T. Roll was a tremendous help.

Moody Ques news I learned last night: We’re doubling down on the gummy worms soaked in booze this year in the booth. Oh my.

I saw the people returning from the Freewheel bike ride while we were loading equipment. It looks like a fun, relaxing way to get some exercise and meet your neighbors. The next ride is Wednesday, May 17. It will depart from 603 Monroe and will explore Downtown and the Clayborn Temple area. The ride is free and you can reserve one of their bikes if you don’t have one.

Get sweet on Mom is the theme at the Memphis Farmers Market this Saturday. You can buy her flowers at Whitton Farms, Gardens Oy Vey, or Sue’s Flowers. Find her the perfect gift at Erica Bodine Pottery, Cosgrove & Lewis Soaps, Gardens Oy Vey, Studio 1688, or Garden Path Studios. Kids can create a teapot frame for a Mother’s Day gift. Live music by Bashville 8:30-10 and Steve Schad 11-12:30. The market runs from 7 AM to 1 PM every Saturday under the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson.

Catch the Navy Band’s Brass Quintet after work! As part of Navy Week, they will perform at the Center for Southern Folklore from 5 to 7 PM today.

After the Navy Band wraps up, you can take a short walk down the street to hear the sounds of Colombia! Memphis in May presents Herencia de Timbiqui at the Orpheum at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $15.

The Redbirds are back in town and they host El Paso tonight at AutoZone Park at 7:05. There will be $2 drafts at select locations throughout the park. There’s a special ticket that gets you all-you-can-eat burgers, hot dogs, and sides. College students can get a left field bluff ticket for $5 with valid ID.

The development of a pedestrian bridge over Front Street, connecting The Pinch with Bass Pro at the Pyramid, has taken a few steps forward. This was part of the original Bass Pro plan but was left on the backburner for years.

Cafe Pontotoc will have returning artist Elayna Scott back for a live art session tonight from 6 to 8 PM.

On The Edge: Cars & Coffee happens the second Saturday of every month from 9 AM to noon… which means it is happening this Saturday, May 13. Auto enthusiasts of the Mid-South come together in The Edge, Memphis’ original automotive row, once a month to display their favorite cars for all to see. It happens in the parking lot next to the old Kudzu’s Bar & Grill. There will be a pop-up tent near the street, you’ll find coffee, donuts, and a sign up sheets if you want event reminders.

In other Edge District news, the Memphis Medical Center District Collaborative will host a Public Art Fund Information Session next Tuesday, May 16, from 5 to 7 PM in Edge Plaza at the corner of Monroe and Marshall. If you have an idea for a public art project in the Memphis Medical Center District, there’s help for your vision through a public art fund. Get funded up to $2500 per project. Learn more

Holly has a good post on everything you need to know about RiverPlay at The Fourth Bluff.

Max’s Sports Bar hosts another crawfish boil Saturday, May 13, with doors opening at 11 AM and the first batch coming off at 12:30 PM. You get two pounds of spicy delicious crawfish along with taters, corn and sausage cooked in the boil. Kind of surprised to see this on the calendar, because Max told me he might wait for May festival season over to bring the boils back. Not disappointed to hear about this one though! Saturday is not a big load-in day for my team, so I may have time to stop by!

The View, the rooftop bar atop the Residence Inn by Marriott at Main and Monroe will have live music by Shufflegrit today and tomorrow 6-9 PM. They are open Thursday-Saturday starting at 4 PM with happy hour 4-6 each day.

I don’t know if I have any readers who love mac & cheese, but just in case I do, Mac & Cheetos are back at Burger King for round 2.

That’s it for now. I will probably hit the Silly Goose as usual on Thursday after work. Back tomorrow with more.

Wednesday update and important Moody Ques announcement

MOODY QUES ANNOUNCEMENT: Our staging of equipment at the Holliday Flowers warehouse, originally scheduled for tomorrow evening, has been pushed forward to tonight, Wednesday, May 10 at 6 PM due to people’s availability. If you can come help, please do, even if you come late. I am arranging a Lyft carpool out there departing the Silly Goose at 6 PM for anyone in the Downtown core who wants to join. Holliday is at 440 Monroe in the Edge District.

One of my favorite local bands will perform at the Peabody rooftop party tomorrow evening, Thursday, May 11. Aquanet is a cover band performing ’80s hair band hits. If you like the music of Motley Crue, Poison, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Winger, Warrant, and Cinderella, you should come check them out. Doors open at 6 PM, music starts at 7. $10 cover (or $150 season VIP pass), with ladies and hotel guests free before 7. Your admission includes a buffet of Colombian guacamole with lime tortillas and beef empanadas. If you’re in VIP you get an additional buffet of Colombian arroz con pollo, chorizo quesadillas, and chicken tamales. Banana margaritas and cherry zing moonshine will be the drink specials.

Fourth Bluff Fridays returns to Memphis Park on Front Street this Friday, May 12, kicking off an 8-week run. This is a family-friendly pop-up beer garden event with river views, live music, and food trucks. The TapBox will be on hand pouring 10 craft beers. For this Friday’s grand opening, Iron Mic Coalition with DJ Capital A will provide the music 6:30-8:30, and the Fuel food truck will be there as well as MemCity Design.

The MBJ has a slideshow of plans for the interior of Arrive Hotel to open at 477 S. Main, in the building that formerly housed the Memphis College of Art graduate school. They hope to be open by Memphis in May next year. The hotel will house a gastropub and live music venue seating 120, and a high-end 98-seat restaurant offering “Mexican food with a Southern twist.” Interesting…

A new sign has been installed on Beale Street to make it easier to find the Withers Collection Museum on Beale Street. Withers took the iconic “I AM A MAN” photos during the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike.

A music festival this Friday, May 12 called Visible in May will honor the Visible Music College 2017 senior class. There will be three live music stages, food trucks, pop-up shops, local vendors, games, prizes, and a photo booth. 2:30 to 7:30 PM. It will be at Visible Music College, 200 Madison.

VERY, VERY COOL: 15-year-old local entrepreneur Moziah Bridges, founder of Mo’s Bows, maker of custom bow ties and neckties, has struck a deal with the NBA licensing him to make NBA-themed merchandise.

Prediction for BBQ Fest: There will be at least one team whose booth is decorated with sombreros, pinatas, and burros and a sign that says “(team name) honors Columbia.” No it won’t be my team.

That’s it for now. Couple beers at Silly Goose after work then out to Holliday to help with staging.

BBQ Fest: Tips for first-year team members

Back with another one of my posts about BBQ Fest which happens on the river next week. This post is going to be directed at first-year BBQ team members – in particular Moody Ques first-year members, but a lot of what I am about to tell you would apply to any team. These are some tips to help you get the most out of your BBQ team experience.

First of all, get the phone number of at least one teammate who has a “24.” In your team packet, you’ll get a plastic wristband that gets you entry to Tom Lee Park during public park hours Wednesday-Saturday. (I tend to snap mine real loose so I can slip it off at night.) However, you’ll notice that 17 of our members have a different-colored plastic wristband with “24 Hour Access” printed on them. These people can come and go anytime they please, whether during public park hours or not. The cooks need these of course, and many of the team leaders will have them. Not only does a “24” give you the right to be in the park anytime you need to, it lets you bring outside food and alcohol in. So if you’re bringing a side or a dessert or your own beer, and you have a regular public park hours wristband, you’ll need someone with 24-hour access to meet you at the gate.

(Side note: I myself don’t wear a “24.” I am offered one every year but turn it down. As Director of Public Relations, there’s really nothing that will be going on in the park at 3 AM that I need to report about.)

Next up: Let’s talk about guest wristbands. For the busy nights (Thursday and Friday) team members get a number of guest wristbands so their friends can come to the booth and visit. These paper wristbands do not get your invited guests in the park, so they will still need to pay for a ticket at the gate. What the guest wristband does is let our off-duty MPD security at the door know that your guests were invited to our booth by a team member.

First piece of advice: Unless you are ONE HUNDRED PERCENT certain your guests will come, do not hand out any guest wristbands in advance. Wait until guests are physically in the park and are calling and texting you that they have arrived. The reason is that a high number of wristbands handed out in advance never get used. People have stuff come up and decide not to go to BBQ Fest. Or they visit so many teams in the Ribs division that they never make it south to Shoulder. Those guest wristbands are like gold at BBQ Fest for people not on teams, so treat them that way.

The advice in the paragraph above is doubly true if the people you’re inviting are in the service industry. Nothing against service industry folks whatsoever, but a lot of times they will pick up shifts at the last minute so their co-workers can go to BBQ Fest. Wait until they are in the park.

Don’t give out a guest wristband to someone who a considerable number of your teammates know equally well as you do. They will get in the booth one way or the other, so don’t worry about it. Save your guest wristbands for people who would not get in without knowing you.

If you’re not going to use your guest wristbands, let one of the team leaders know. There is always a need for extras.

If you feel it is appropriate to ask, encourage your invited guests who are not team members to feed the pig (leave a tip). Team members are not expected to feed their own pig. However, if you visit other booths and enjoy other BBQ teams’ hospitality, it makes the Moody Ques look good if you feed their pig.

It is very possible that you will ruin a pair of shoes at BBQ Fest. If we get even one good rain in the week preceding BBQ Fest, the sidewalks will be covered in mud. Run to the shoe store and get a pair of shoes you don’t mind throwing away at the end of the weekend. If the weather is nice and the shoes survive, bonus.

If you’re outside the booth and the ice truck rolls by, stick your head in the door and shout “DO WE NEED ICE?” We usually do.

If you look at the river bluff, every so often there are signs with numbers on them. I think these are for riverboat navigation, but they can be extremely useful for giving invited guests an approximate idea where your booth is in the park. Look and see which numbered sign is closest to your booth. Houses are also good for approximating location (“we’re across from the white house with balconies on all three stories”). By the way, this advice applies to meeting up with people at Music Fest and 901 Fest as well.

On Thursday and Friday nights we have an off-duty MPD officer working the door, if you aren’t busy, he’d appreciate it a lot if you ask him if he needs anything. It will likely be hot in the evening so he might appreciate a bottle of water. Or he might need someone to watch the door for a couple of minutes while he sweeps the booth to make sure there are no problems.

Around the park there are vendors selling fresh-squeezed lemonade. If you’ve hit the booze a bit hard and are starting to feel tired and dehydrated with hours left to go in the day, one of those lemonades and maybe an hour or two break from alcohol can do wonders for helping you catch your second wind.

Judging happens from 11 AM to noon Saturday for shoulder teams. During that time only the presenting team members and the cooks will be allowed in the booth. Team members are invited to come stand outside (if possible wear your team shirts) to politely applaud the judges as they leave. We can pull a keg outside so team members can have beer. The park opens at 10 that morning and it would be nice if we could have a few volunteers to come get the booth in pristine condition for the judges.

For those who would prefer to wait until the judges have left, I will organize a team meetup at a nearby location where we can grab a few beers and then walk over to the park together. Details to follow.

If we’re told the judges are coming back and we have to get out of the booth again… don’t feel inconvenienced, because that is great news! It means the judges are trying to figure out the top 10, and we’ve made it. Trust me, in that case the party we’ll have Saturday evening will more than make up for the extra time standing outside in the afternoon.

I hope these tips helped… if you have any questions, please ask. Back at lunchtime with Wednesday news.

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!