Memphis Music & Heritage Fest keeps getting better every year

I had a great time at the Center for Southern Folklore’s Memphis Music and Heritage Festival.  Seems like it keeps getting better every year… more people attending, better bands, better variety.  Great food too, inside the folklore hall… I had some homemade chili yesterday.  They have meat and vegetarian varieties.  They also have BBQ shoulder sandwiches, and Ella Kizzie’s chicken, greens, and hot-water cornbread.  There are street vendors selling funnel cakes, corn dogs, and the like.  Circa has white and red sangria for sale for $5.

Here’s a pic from yesterday.  Three tube tops – nice!

Looking forward to another fun-filled day… at least hurricane refugees arriving here from New Orleans will have something to occupy their mind today.

Heading back there in a few minutes to get started until day 2.  Festival runs all day today, so come on down.

It’s official: Interim will take over the Daily Grill

The CA had an article this morning announcing that the rumors are true:  East Memphis restaurant Interim will take over the Daily Grill.  The restaurant will not be named Interim (they have yet to pick a name) and will emphasize fresh fish, although there will also be chicken, burgers, steaks, oysters, and other menu items.  More details here.

Fun Trolley Tour last night.  Mikey the Camera Nazi had his monthly porch party outside his condo, and I tried my luck at cornhole and found that my skills had improved considerably since last time.  After that I went to Calhoun’s with some new friends for beers.  I didn’t make it to Aquanet’s performance at the Red Rooster, so I’ll have to catch them next time.

I put gas in the car for the first time in three months this morning.  That Riverside BP is a gem.  Bought a couple of breakfast sandwiches to take home.

Time to get dressed and head down Main for the Memphis Music & Heritage Festival.  I’ll put a fresh battery in the camera and take pictures.

Friday update: Tube tops, veggie wine dinner, discounts for locals, where to eat prime rib?, is it time for a Downtown charity beer fest?, and more

While researching listings for my new happy hour search engine, I happened upon an article from a Denver newspaper listing some Ladies’ Night promotions. I was especially intrigued by this one:

“The Walnut Room, 3131 Walnut St. The Walnut’s ingenious ‘Tube Top Sundays’ provides ladies clad thusly with free drinks from 2-5 PM.”

Attn Memphis bars, restaurants and clubs: Here is a promotion just begging to be copied. This is one of the best ideas ever, and any local bar that copies it has about a 99.9% chance of seeing me as a customer. If I ever take a vacation to Denver, I know where I’ll be Sunday afternoon.

Circa is having a vegetarian wine dinner on Wednesday, September 3. If you read the article in this week’s Memphis Flyer, you know what a great vegetarian chef John Bragg is. His dishes will be paired with wine from Heller Estate. 5-course dinner, $75 with wine or $55 without.

Memphis Travel, the Convention & Visitors Bureau site, has a page for locals. There you can download coupons to use around the city. Most of the local museums offer discounts, as do other venues including Center for Southern Folklore Circuit Playhouse. You can also enter a trivia contest to win a Memphis “stay-cation” for locals.

I had a reader e-mail me asking where to take guests from Tokyo for prime rib. That one has me stumped; I don’t eat prime rib that often. There’s the Blue Monkey but I think they’re looking for someplace a little more upscale. Any suggestions? They don’t have to be Downtown restaurants. E-mail them to and I’ll pass them on.

Got an e-mail from one of my trivia team members, mentioning that the beer fest at the zoo tonight is sold out, and that Art on Tap got so crowded last year that the Dixon saw fit to raise the admission fee to $50 for non-members.  He pointed out that Memphians clearly love their beer festivals, and suggested that it’s time for a Downtown charity beer festival.  There’s a ball someone could pick up and run with (although I still think it’s the second-best idea in this post, after “Tube Top Sunday”).

So McCain’s VP pick is Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.  If he wants to make the case that Barack Obama is too inexperienced to lead the only remaining superpower, why did he pick someone far less experienced?  I bet today will be remembered as the day McCain blew the election.  Yeah some Hillary Clinton supporters might give the McCain-Palin ticket a look, because they want to see a woman in high office… but a woman who is staunchly pro-life?  Seems like that would be enough to turn away just about every feminist out there.

I had a good time watching Obama’s acceptance speech last night at the Majestic Grille, enjoying a whole roasted garlic chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans as I watched.  And I still have enough left on my gift card to go back and have one of Patrick’s filets.  Life is good.

Announcing my new drinking search engines

My new search engines are ready for rollout.  Here’s the scoop on each one:

Happy hour and drink special search engine – on this page you can search for happy hours and daily drink specials in your area by city/state or zip code, and by day.  I’ve added about 25 listings for Downtown Memphis, but eventually I hope to have listings nationwide.  If your favorite bar has drink specials and you don’t see them, you can use our friendly interface to add them.  Bar owners can also edit listings if they find information on the site that is out of date or incorrect.

Cheap beer search engine – here you can search for bars in your city that sell one or more beers for $2 all day, every day.  If you know of a bar that has a great deal on beer and you don’t see it, you can add it.  This search engine is only for beer deals that are “all day, every day,” available to all patrons of legal age, without additional purchase.

I hope you find these useful… it’s possible you may find a bug or two, a browser in which it doesn’t display properly, etc.  If you do just e-mail me at and I’ll look into it.

Over time, I’m hoping that these search engines will build up enough listings to be useful not only to Downtown Memphis or Memphis in general, but nationwide.

Memphis Music & Heritage Fest: Complete schedule and Paul’s Picks

Here’s the complete schedule for the 2008 Memphis Music & Heritage Festival, to be held Saturday and Sunday on the Main Street Mall at Peabody Place/Gayoso.

And here are my picks:

noon Greg Hisky & his Dixie Whisky Flyers (Peabody Place at Main stage)
noon Jimmy Crosthwait – puppet show (Trolley Stop Stage)
1:15 PM Charlie Wood (Folklore Store stage)
1:30 PM Mr. White (Gayoso & Main stage)
2:55 PM Ella Kizzie Southern cooking demo (Trolley Stop Stage)
6:30 PM Alicja Trout & the River City Tanlines (Gayoso & Main stage)
7 PM Giant Bear(Peabody Place at Main stage)
8:30 PM Al Kapone (Gayoso & Main stage)
8:45 PM Hope Clayburn & Soul Scrimmage (Folklore Hall Stage)
9:15 PM Harlan T Bobo (Folklore Store stage)

I’ve also received a recommendation to go see Punching Nicholas, who will be playing down the street at the Tap Room on Beale at 10 PM.

noon Jimmy Crosthwait – puppet show (Trolley Stop Stage)
1:30 PM Mr. White & David Agape (Gayoso & Main stage)
2:15 PM Barbara Blue (Folklore Store stage)
2:55 PM Ella Kizzie Southern cooking demo (Trolley Stop Stage)
6:25 PM Chef Michael Patrick Creole gumbo demo (Trolley Stop Stage)
7 PM Sonny Burgess & the Pacers (Peabody Place at Main stage)
8 PM FreeWorld featuring Herman Green (Peabody Place at Main stage)
8:30 PM Exodus (Gayoso & Main stage)
10 PM Jason D. Williams
10:15 PM Blind Mississippi Morris (Folklore Store stage)

Couch surfing

I typed up a “Reading this week’s Memphis Flyer so you don’t have to” post last night, but about the time I finished it, Comcast slowed to a halt and I couldn’t post.  Checked to see if I could jump on my neighbor “linksys”‘s network, but it wasn’t available either.  It was about 11 PM.  “No Internet, guess I’ll go to bed,” I thought.  “Or, I could go have a beer.”  So I went to the Saucer and then Hoop’s Bar and stayed out until about 2.

Anyway, the main thing I wanted to mention that there’s an article on page 9 about  This is a site where you can register and let travelers know that you have a couch available for them to crash on, or that you’re traveling and are looking for couches.  The cost of crashing on someone’s couch is $0.  So, why would you offer total strangers a place to crash?  Because it’s a great way to meet people, and help travelers see new cities from a local’s perspective.  If you don’t want to offer your couch to travelers, you can sign up and select “no couch, but willing to meet for coffee or a drink.”  There are measures in place to verify people’s identities.  The system works surprisingly well and many friendships have been forged as a result.

This is very cool.  I love to meet new people and show them around and let them see why I love Downtown Memphis.  I’m definitely going to sign up as being willing to go out for coffee or a drink, and I’ll go “maybe” on the couch offer.

You can befriend people on much as you can on MySpace and Facebook, and it helps your reputation because then you have people to vouch for you.  This is important when you’re dealing with total strangers.  I’ll sign up this weekend after I get the Comcast problem straightened out.  If you’re on there, be sure to look for me and befriend me.

Other stuff in the Flyer (doing this from memory, don’t have one in front of me):  An article about the Memphis Music & Heritage Festival, with an interview with Center for Southern Folklore director Judy Peiser; an ad reminding people that Big Foot Lodge will have 34 oz. super cold Coors Light for $2 all day Sunday; and an article about Circa chef John Bragg and his history in restaurants.  When he was at La Montagne he made tofu fajitas.  I’m sure my health guru AL is salivating at the thought of those.

Sammy Zambelis, owner of Bon Ton Cafe, passed away yesterday

Yesterday I wrote that I had heard there was a death related to the Bon Tom Cafe.  I’m sad to have since learned that it was Sam, the owner.  Thanks to one of my readers for sending this to me.

Sammy Zambelis, owner & manager of the Bon Ton Cafe, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday morning.  He was 50 years old.  He has been at the Bon Ton almost every day for as long as I have been working downtown, at least 17 years.  His family owns and runs the restaurant, and they are devastated at this loss.  I do not know the family’s plans for the restaurant.  He will be missed by all that knew him.    Funeral arrangements were sent to everyone at our office, and I have included them below.

For those of you who are interested, visitation will be on Friday from 5-8 PM at the Family Funeral Home on 4925 Summer Ave. The funeral will be held on Saturday at 11 AM at St. George Greek Orthodox Church at 6984 US Hwy 70. Burial will be at Memorial Park Cemetery on Poplar and Yates.