Ferraro’s announces prizes for new Tuesday trivia night

(Edit: I typed this post this morning before work. Since then, the increasing threat of severe weather has forced me to change my tune from “will attend” to “maybe.” See the MemphisWeather.net blog for more information on the upcoming storms.)

Kevin Cerrito, host of the new Tuesday trivia night at Ferraro’s Pizzeria and Pub, has announced the weekly prizes.

1st place – $50 gift card
2nd place – $20 gift card
3rd place – $10 gift card
Best team name – pitcher of PBR

The team formerly known as the Rapscallions plans on being there. I say “formerly known” because we might as well compete for best team name. We have a team member who is very good at coming up with names. Ironically, he hates PBR. That’s OK though, I’ll drink it, and besides we have other team members who are always up for mooching a free beer.

To recap, the trivia night starts at 8 and will end around 10. Maximum 8 per team, which may force us to break into 2 teams. Ferraro’s is smoke free, but there’s a patio for those who are into inhaling cancer causing agents. Homemade New York-style pizza pies and excellent calzones.

Ferraro’s is on Jackson near the intersection of Main. Free parking.

Wonder if my team will get hit with a cell phone penalty. We don’t cheat, but some of our team members are bad about texting, tweeting, checking Facebook, playing Words with Friends, etc. during trivia.

I’m probably going to hit Bardog’s happy hour around 6, then walk or trolley to Ferraro’s a little after 7 if anyone wants to join. (Edit: If weather is bad, will just stick around Bardog, close to home.)

Too bad Memphis Minnie’s dead; the next few weeks would have provided plenty of songwriting inspiration

In 1927, the Mississippi River flooded and was 60 miles wide south of Memphis. 14% of Arkansas was under water at one point. It prompted Memphis Minnie to write the song “When the Levee Breaks,” made famous 43 years later when Led Zeppelin covered it.

If Minnie were still with us, the next couple of weeks would likely have provided her with a lot of songwriting inspiration. Riverside Drive wasn’t around in 1927, but ten years later, it was under water in the 1937 Mississippi River flood. Early next month, the river is predicted to experience the worst flood since 1937.

Music Fest will not be affected, but this is not good news for BBQ Fest and possibly Sunset Symphony.

Fast facts:

  • Memphis in May’s electric bunkers are at 41.7 feet. A crest above that level could cause the electrical system to have to be pulled, leaving BBQ Fest teams to rely on generator power.
  • Current forecast is for the river to crest at 44 feet on May 8, but that number is expected to be revised upward tonight. May 7 is the beginning of load-in and build for BBQ teams.
  • Record river stage was 48.7 feet in 1937.
  • 49 feet and Tom Lee Park would become part of the mighty Mississippi.
  • The river would have to reach 56 feet to threaten homes on Mud Island.
  • For those who don’t live in Memphis who are worried my neighborhood could be flooded, don’t. The Downtown Memphis core sits on a high bluff. Front Street and points east are safe.

Lots more information in these articles about the rising river:

Attn Memphis Grizzlies: Downtown Memphis needs your help

This morning, I looked at Twitter, and one of the sports radio guys I follow made a very good point: Friday night, parking Downtown is going to be ridiculous. Tens of thousands will be going to Beale Street Music Fest; Game 6 of the Grizzlies-Spurs playoffs will surely sell out; and there’s a Redbirds home game that night. Parking garages will be jammed. I may have to leave work early just to make sure I get a space in my own parking garage.

I know the Grizzlies are preparing for the game tonight, but I’d like to ask them a favor: You guys can help alleviate the Downtown parking situation Friday night. All I need you to do is win tonight’s game, then win on the road at San Antonio Wednesday. If you do that,┬áthere won’t be a game Friday at FedExForum. That will provide considerable traffic/parking relief.

So, what do you say, can you help a brother out? After all, I did change my blog’s colors to Grizzlies colors.

Beer tip

Yesterday afternoon, while hanging out at Bardog Tavern, I received a beer tip from one of my blog’s regular readers. BP Riverside, located at the corner of Riverside and Carolina, has 5-liter refrigerator kegs of Newcastle and Spaten Lager for $20. You don’t need any special equipment to operate the kegs. By my calculations, you’ll get about ten and a half pints from one keg, which works out to $2 a glass of premium beer. Not a bad deal at all.

It’s lunchtime and given the weather, I have no inclination to go out. Staying in and working on a couple of things. For one, I’m answering a set of questions Kerry from the I Love Memphis Blog sent me. I’m scheduled to be one of her 365 Memphians in an upcoming post. She’s meeting me at the Saucer tonight to take my photo. As much as I hate not having Grizzlies gear on tonight, I feel the need to wear my Ques Brothers shirt and represent the BBQ team.

I’m also working on a long post about Music Fest people-watching. The good news is, none of the people-watching I will describe requires you to spend any money. If I get that done before my hour is up, I’ll publish it; if not, it’ll be up tonight.

Visiting an old friend

You know, it’s weird… I’ve been Downtown for nine years now. I write a blog that a lot of people consider the go-to guide for what to do on the weekends. And yet, on Saturday nights lately, I find myself searching for things to do.

One group of people I know, who call themselves the Wolfpack, make the circuit of bars and clubs. They do Bardog then Local then Bar None then Silly Goose then Raiford’s then Club Shadows followed by a late night snack at Blues City or Cockadoos. They have fun but I couldn’t do it on a weekly basis. For one thing, they prefer to be at each bar when it’s at its most crowded. Although I’m a big fan of most of the places I just mentioned, some of them are less fun when they are super busy. People constantly crowding you, bumping into you, you know? Plus, I can’t see myself making a regularly weekly habit of partying with 22 year olds at Shadows at 4 in the morning.

Another group of my friends goes to the Blue Monkey every Saturday. Now, while I think the Monkey is a fantastic bar in general, Saturday is karaoke night. I cannot think of anything more BORING than spending the best night of my week listening to horribly crappy singing. Did my friends all turn 60 and move to a trailer park? Sometimes I wonder. Also, given the amount of rent I pay to live in the Downtown core, I want to hang out in the core most of the time, not have a regular Saturday night gig at a bar almost a mile’s walk away. Yes, I know there’s a trolley but it stops running at 1.

So, on a few Saturdays recently, I’ve ended up by myself. Which is fine – I’m an only child and have been comfortable doing my own thing my entire life. I feel the need to vary things up though. Hanging out at the Saucer all the time gets old after a while.

Yesterday, after spending a few hours at Max’s, I hopped on the trolley to ride north. I decided to get off at Beale Street and visit an old friend – my mug at the Tap Room.

Beale Street is full of bars that attract mainly tourists (Hard Rock, BB King’s) and dance clubs that mainly kids go to (Alfred’s, 152/Shadows). But the Tap Room… now that’s my kind of bar. Dark, wooden interior, memorabilia including beer steins and unusual beer cans. Nice, long bar with 20 beers on draft, full liquor selection. Bands play on the weekends, but not so loud that you can’t talk to the person next to you. Games on TVs at each end of the bar. Really good food, because they share a menu with King’s Palace next door. The Tap Room used to be my nightly home, from about ’03 to ’05 before I got on a roll with the Saucer. It had a really good mix of people, balanced perfectly between locals and out-of-towners.

As for my mug, they have a “Mug Club.” When I joined, I paid $20 (it’s probably a little more now) and was given markers to decorate the bottom of my mug, including its number (52). Mug Club members get a discount on beers in their mug, and they get extra value on every beer they drink. I believe the mugs are 23 ounces, compared to the usual 16-ounce pints. One of my friends actually bought mug #1 from its original owner, so he could say he’s #1. Nowadays there are so many Mug Club members that they don’t even bother numbering them.

I ordered dinner, going with the seafood pasta: Shrimp, crab and scallops in a cream sauce. Absolutely delicious. I highly recommend it. The Chicken Pontabla (chicken and cheese over potatoes with Cajun spice) is another can’t-miss dish.

Although it had been close to a year since my last visit, the Tap Room still felt like home. I need to get a regular Saturday rotation of bars going – something less ambitious than what the Wolfpack does – and the Tap Room deserves to be on the list. Saucer, Tap Room, maybe Bar None. As much as I love Bardog and Silly Goose, they get so crowded on Saturdays that I don’t go much, unless I know friends are going too. Maybe Rehab Disco or Raiford’s if I want to end the night at a dance club – both of those clubs appeal to kids and grownups alike. I need to spend more time at Rockbottom, the locals’ bar on the ground floor of Rehab, in particular.

In any event, my Saturday schedule will be thrown all out of whack next week, thanks to Music Fest. Reminds me, I need to do a post about Music Fest people watching. Maybe I’ll work on that this afternoon since the Saucer doesn’t open until 5.

Reader question: Which is the best night to go to BBQ Fest?

After yesterday’s post about BBQ Fest, I had a reader ask an excellent question: I plan to go to BBQ Fest, but only one night. Which is the best night to go?

Here’s my take on it.

Wednesday is Friends & Family Night, not open to the public. It’s extremely hard to get a ticket. On a large team like ours, it’s difficult to get tickets even for spouses.

Thursday is my favorite night. In my team’s booth – we have a large team with about 50 members – it tends to be a big party with our friends. It gets very busy, but the mood is generally fun and festive.

Friday is when the masses arrive. It’s still fun, but the mood gets a little more tense, particularly at the booth entrance where freeloaders who obviously don’t know anyone on the team try to get in. Also, the cooks begin to prepare the championship meat on Friday night, and we want them to be able to concentrate and do their best.

Saturday, in my opinion, is the worst day to go for a couple of reasons. For one, the judges come by in the afternoon, and everyone has to be out of the booth for the presentation. Then a few hours later, everyone’s out of the booth again attending the awards ceremony. After the awards, many teams start tearing down the booths (not us – we party until they kick us out). Many teams are visibly tired out by Saturday – it’s a lot of work to be on a team. Also, you don’t get as much time to party on Saturday. The park closes at 10, as opposed to midnight Thursday and Friday.

So, if you only go one night, Thursday sounds like the best… BUT…

It’s expensive to organize a BBQ team. As I mentioned in a previous post, a budget of 20 grand is reasonable for a large team. To help cover expenses, many teams get corporate sponsors. Some sponsors, as part of the deal, ask for a “sponsor night” where they can bring in clients. The teams wait on the sponsors during sponsor night and tend to limit outside guests. Not all teams with sponsors have sponsor night; for example, my team’s sponsors, WordPress.com and Bar None, are cool sponsors who want to party with us, not order us around, and we have full run of the booth every night.

So, my answer would be, check with the teams that invited you, and all things being equal, go Thursday. If a lot of the teams are doing sponsor night on Thursday, go Friday.

Hope that helps. Hard to believe that two weeks from today, we’ll be building the team booth. Or, I should say, two weeks from today I’ll be sitting at the Saucer drinking beer while teammates with a stronger work ethic than mine build the booth.

Couple of random pics

Cleaning old pics out of the camera. Here are a couple of random ones:

Uncle Ray, who loves to have his picture taken, and Robo at Shelton Clothiers Thursday night. Shelton partnered with the Squeal Street BBQ team for a benefit for LeBonheur. Attn Robo: I’m going to try to direct a birthday party happening Downtown tonight toward your favorite Saturday night place. Birthday girl is someone whose photographs have frequently appeared on this blog (recently, the same photo over and over).

I’ve been playing poker with Brick a lot lately at the Silly Goose’s Monday Night Texas Hold’em game (free to play, 10 PM). Based on her strategy, I suspect that Brick has been reading poker books. Particularly, the poker book that states, “K-3 is a powerhouse hand that is easily strong enough to call an all-in move pre-flop.” I busted Brick out of the tournament Monday night.

Someone post pics to Facebook of last night’s toga party at Max’s! Didn’t make it down there, because I was dealing with a bout of severe laziness. Highlight of my evening was the Cajun chicken eggrolls I had at Majestic Grille.

I will be at Max’s this afternoon for their courtyard party. I don’t know if I will stick around to watch the Grizzlies game – would prefer to head back to the core before evening – but I want to be there around 2 PM to catch Dynaflow play. Three bands, beer specials, crawfish, two HDTVs outside. It’s definitely the Downtown event of the day, so come down!

Early warning: BBQ Fest

It’s the start of a nice, relaxing Easter weekend, but I want to give everyone an early warning: Memphis in May BBQ Fest starts in less than 3 weeks. At BBQ Fest, about 250 teams compete in ribs, shoulder, whole hog, and Patio Porkers. The thing is, due to health regulations, you can’t go in the team booths and eat unless you’re on a team, or are an invited guest. So, now is the time to start gathering invitations.

(Note: As an invited guest, you still have to pay to get in the festival.)

A few tips:

  • Ask around among your friends; find out who you know who is on a BBQ team. Memphis is one of those towns where everyone knows someone. You probably know more team members than you think.
  • Look for people who are wearing BBQ team T-shirts and polos. That’s a sure indication they’re either on a team, or are very close to someone who is.
  • If you’re new to Memphis and have never been to BBQ Fest, use this to your advantage. Team members realize it kind of sucks to be at BBQ Fest when you don’t know anyone on a team; being on the outside looking in is no fun. As a result, many teams tend to be sympathetic to newcomers.
  • When you get invitations, be sure to get the team name. Most of the teams have similar names, some variation of pig, hog, swine, etc. It’s easy to get down to the park and have no idea whose booth you’re invited to. Write the name down or put it in your phone.
  • If possible, get their booth number as well. If you have an iPhone or Droid, the Memphis in May app will let you look up the team, find the booth number and get an approximate location in Tom Lee Park.
  • Let them know that you understand it’s expensive to run a team (budgets in excess of $20,000 are normal for the large teams), and if they have a tip jar you’d be happy to stick a few dollars in.
  • Be appreciative. Ask nicely, and be grateful if an invitation is extended. Don’t act like it’s your God-given right to come in. Being a douchebag is not a good strategy to get in booths.
  • Don’t ask if you can bring 8 other people with you. That’s unreasonable. One person, sure. Two, maybe. But don’t expect to ride up with your entire posse and be welcome.
  • Ask if they use any kind of system to denote invited guests – wristbands, cards, etc. – and arrange to get one.
  • If you go to Music Fest, that’s a good opportunity to network for BBQ Fest, because of the sheer number of people you’ll see there.
  • If you ask and are told no, be understanding. As a member of a team, I hate telling potential guests no, but sometimes I have to. We can’t allow more people in than the capacity set by the fire marshal, and it’s not fair for me to let 75 invited guests in when my teammates only have a few guests each.
  • Find out what dates and times are best for you to stop by. Many teams have a “sponsor night” when they have to limit guest access.

(Edit: A frequent guest of my team’s booth just reminded me that wearing a tube top is an excellent strategy for gathering booth invites.)

The early bird gets the worm. Start early, and you won’t get caught in a mad scramble to get in booths when BBQ Fest opens to the public.

If you want more info about BBQ Fest, you can get details here.