Thur update: Music Fest lineup, Wonder Bread bakery acquired, KKK stupidity, Shelton starts shopping club

The lineup for Memphis in May Beale Street Music Fest has been announced. Big names include The Black Keys, Smashing Pumpkins, Sheryl Crow, Alice in Chains, ZZTop, Dwight Yoakam, The Black Crowes, Jerry Lee Lewis, Lucero, Al Kapone, and many more. I’ve seen mixed comments about this year’s lineup, both good and bad. The three-day music festival takes place on the river at Tom Lee Park May 3-5.

Flower Foods has purchase the Wonder Bread brand. Part of the purchase includes the 91-year-old bakery Downtown on Madison Avenue. The bakery has been closed since December. Good news that we will once again enjoy the smell of bread baking as we drive down Madison.

The KKK is stepping up plans after having their permit approved for the March 30 rally. Plans include a “cross lighting,” meaning a cross burning somewhere outside the city. Seriously. In 2013 they’re doing this. Once again, best advice is to completely ignore these idiots and not give them the attention they seek.

Shelton Clothiers is beginning a new shopping club. As a member of the club, they’ll send you clothes tailored to your needs at the beginning of each season, or whenever you request. You can keep what you want and return the rest using a 10 day prepaid return label.

Last night I started at the Silly Goose, where BBQ team vice-president Clay filled me in on a few ideas for the booth design, as well as what is going to happen at the bar. I need to find out what I’m allowed to blog but things really appear to be heading in a good direction.

After a Saucer stop, I headed over to the Blind Bear. Trivia was going on. One of the questions was, “Other than fingerprint, what body part produces a print that can uniquely identify you?” Too bad I wasn’t playing, because none of the teams knew the answer and I did – the tongue. Fun and busy night at the Bear.

Same plans for tonight: Goose then Saucer then Bear. I’ll hang along at the Blind Bear a little longer than usual tonight, to catch Amy LaVere, John Paul Keith, and Shawn Zorn performing as Hotel Mirrors. They take the stage at 10.

Wed update: Amy LaVere and John Paul Keith at Blind Bear tomorrow, iOS Kindle app bug, praise for Aldo’s pizza, Bluff City Poker standings

Live music alert! Amy LaVere and John Paul Keith will perform tomorrow night, Thursday, February 28, from 10 PM to 1 AM at the Blind Bear. This should be an excellent show by two of Memphis’ best musicians. Great way to wrap up the month of February and I plan on being there.

Do you read books using the Kindle app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch? Don’t upgrade to the latest version. There’s a bug that will erase your entire library of books. Amazon is working on a fix.

More accolades for Memphis food: Travel + Leisure Magazine has named Memphis number 14 on its list of 20 cities to grab a great pizza. Part of the reason for our city’s high ranking is Downtown’s own Aldo’s Pizza Pies and its pulled pork and coleslaw pizza. Hog and Hominy out east was also praised in the article.

Bluff City poker host Muruako asked me to share the current standings in the Bluff City poker league. That encompasses the Monday game at Silly Goose, the Wednesday game at Double J, and the Thursday game at Dancin’ Jimmy’s. I’ve managed to break into the top 10!

Heading out to grab lunch. I’ll be out about 6 tonight. Silly Goose is likely my first stop.

Tue update: Mudbugs in March, food truck rodeo, Jerry Lee Lewis club on Beale, Bardog win at Soup Sunday, Bass Pro, liquor brand ambassadors, perform for Downtowners at lunch, KKK rally permit approved

Get ready for spring festival season! Mudbugs in March will be back in Court Square for its second year on Saturday, March 16. There will be an authentic Louisiana crawfish boil, with $5 general admission and $35 VIP pass that includes all the crawfish you can eat. There will also be twisted mac & cheese from Hard Rock Cafe, a gumbo contest, and BBQ from 2011 Memphis in May BBQ Fest champs Fat Side Up. FreeWorld and The Mason Jar Fireflies will supply the live music. The event will be from 2 to 8 PM.

In other Court Square news, there will be a food truck rodeo there tomorrow.

A rock’n’roll legend will soon have a club on Beale named after him. Jerry Lee Lewis’ Cafe and Honky Tonk is set to open on May 1st at 310 Beale, in the building that was Pat O’Brien’s and most recently has been operating as Dancin’ Jimmy’s. The Killer will not be there regularly but plans to make an appearance opening night, and may do occasional fan appreciation nights. His memorabilia will be on display. There will be live music at the club, and a menu of Southern food. About $150,000 will be spent on renovations to get the club regularly for the opening.

Congratulations to neighborhood bar Bardog Tavern on their win for Best Soup at Youth Villages’ Soup Sunday. Bardog also won the spirit award.

Bass Pro wants to put illuminated signs of the Bass Pro logo on the four sides of the Pyramid. There is some debate about the signs, which are 100 times larger than what has been the standard for maximum size in that area.

Ever wonder what a liquor brand ambassador does? Find out in this New York Post article.

Performers of all types: Apply to be part of’s spring lunchtime series. (PDF)

The city has approved the KKK’s permit to rally at 140 Adams from 1:30 to 4 PM on Saturday, March 30. Participants will not be allowed to wear their masks. Officers assigned to that rally will go through riot training. MPD Director Toney Armstrong advises Memphians to ignore the rally and go about their business as usual that Easter weekend. The rally is to protest the renaming of Confederate, Jefferson Davis, and Forrest Parks. I agree with Director Anderson: The best thing we can do is ignore these fools.

Time for beer. Saucer is the likely first stop tonight.

Moody Ques 2013 BBQ team update

Over the past week I’ve received a lot of inquiries from members of the BBQ Fest team I’m on, the Moody Ques. “We haven’t heard anything,” they told me. “What’s going on?” they asked. “Is there going to be a team? And if there is, are the problems that happened last year going to be addressed?” I had those questions myself, and set up a meeting with Clay, our team vice-president, and got the answers a couple of weeks ago. I’ve now been given permission to share that info with our team. Clay suggested that I use my blog to share the information, because let’s face it, no one looks at our team website.

As I said last week, I had other teams interested in having me join. I took in all the information I’m about to share, and after processing it all I decided I was going to remain with the Moody Ques. That said, this is not going to be a “Last year was awesome and this year will be even better!!!” statement. I would have zero credibility if I did that. We all know there was some stupid stuff that happened last year, and our team leadership needs to be held accountable. It’s going to happen, right here. I’m taking the same approach I did during BBQ Fest week last year: The filter is completely off. Okay, let’s do this.

(Since our team president is a lawyer, I guess I better insert that none of this should be taken as a contract or a guarantee, just what I’ve been told will happen.)

THE FOOD: This year we will be partnering with our next door booth neighbors from last year. Many team members went over and sampled their food, and it was delicious. So their team of about 10 members will join forces with us – they’ll supply the food, we’ll supply the party. You may have noticed the numerous trophies decorating their tent last year. These guys know how to win cooking competitions and we’re looking forward to winning with them. 49th out of 51 (our placement last year) is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE and we’re taking the steps we need to take to prevent that from ever happening again. If we were not I would be announcing that I had joined another team, not telling you the reasons I’m staying with this one.

We recognize that last year, there were long stretches of time when there was nothing to eat in the booth. We are committed to fixing that. We’re going to get our cooks to agree to two full meals a day, plus some minor snacks in between. We also had problems with the timing last year. It doesn’t do any good for food to start coming off the grill at 10:15 when the park closes at 10:30. This year we are going to feed our team members in a timely fashion.

One other complaint I kept hearing about last year was that THERE WAS TOO DAMN MUCH CHICKEN. I’m not sure who screwed up that order but it will not happen again this year. This year we will actually serve BBQ at BBQ Fest. Ribs, pork shoulder, that kind of thing. What a novel idea. If you want chicken there’s a Jack Pirtle’s on Thomas.

THE BOOTH: This year we’re going to keep things simple. We’re not going to build an elaborate booth and attempt to win a prize for it. We’re leaning toward a one-story, completely open booth. If you’ve seen The Hogfather and some other teams, you’ll know that it is possible to have a one-story structure and still be a huge party. Location is not yet decided, but if we go one-story it is more likely that we will try to move to the riverside. We will save so much money by not having to erect elaborate scaffolding that we will be able to afford it if we choose.

One other change that we’re going to have from last year is TAP HANDLES THAT ACTUALLY POUR BEER. Functionality is more important than appearance this year. I know a lot of team members wished they could have poured a beer to go with their thirty bazillion pounds of uncooked chicken, but the tap wall didn’t work. This year, we’re keeping it simple and the beer will flow freely.

Oh, and one more thing… THIS YEAR WE’RE NOT GOING TO FLY THE FUCKING FLAG UPSIDE DOWN. With Sweden as the honored country it’s actually impossible to do so. I’ll make it my personal responsibility to make sure we don’t find a way to do something equally stupid, like flying Switzerland’s flag.

TEAM LEADERSHIP: Moody will still serve as team president, but she has requested that her day-to-day involvement be minimal. Vice-president Clay and secretary/treasurer Frank will handle most of the decision making and day to day stuff. If you have questions that aren’t covered here, Clay would probably be the best person to ask. Frank makes his living as an accountant and does a great job managing the team’s money with accuracy and transparency.

THE BAR: I know there were people who had problems with those two bartenders who worked for us last year. They will not be back. It’s long been my opinion that you need professional bartenders, preferably ones who already know most of the team members prior to the start of BBQ Fest. This year we’ve got that covered.

Jamie and Jeannette.

The Blind Bear is back on board with us as a sponsor. If for any reason Jamie and Jeannette can’t work the peak times (Thursday and Friday evenings), they’ll get people who work at the Bear to do it. I don’t think we could possibly ask for better people to run a bar.

Also: Team members will have different wristbands than guests this year. That was one of the hugest mistakes of last year in my opinion. If the line at the bar is four or five deep, a team member ought to be able to hold up their wristband and get priority service over guests. Team members will still have the rubber bands, but we’re going back to paper wristbands for guests.

THE DOOR/GUEST ACCESS: One of the things we did right last year was to have an off-duty MPD officer, Moody’s brother, working security for us. Good security is a must at BBQ Fest and we are happy to have him back Thursday and Friday nights. I know for a fact having him last year prevented problems.

Other than that, though, guest access was very badly handled last year. The rules changed in the middle of the festival and that was not acceptable. Friday night in particular was just a fucking disaster. I myself had three guests who could not get in because of that rule change. It was very embarrassing to have promised they could come in and then they were turned away. Other members had similar problems. I very nearly quit the team and joined Squeal Street because of this, and this was one of the main things I needed to hear would be done differently for 2013. After talking with Clay I am satisfied that team management has this under control.

I’ve already mentioned the wristbands. Team members will have their own rubber wristbands, and will be given paper wristbands in the team packs to hand out to guests. Number of guest wristbands per team member has yet to be determined. Team members will also be able to meet their guests at the door and get them in. Of course, at peak times there may be a wait to get guests in, because we can’t go over the capacity the fire marshal sets for us.

If you have any concerns about the door talk to Clay, or contact me and I will pass on the info to him.

THE MUSIC: Memphis in May does not allow BBQ Fest teams to bring in professional DJs with all of their equipment. You have to use an iPod or something similar to provide the music for your team booth. That said, there’s no reason we can’t have a professional DJ create a playlist and put it on an iPod. We’re still working on this but that is the direction in which we’re thinking.

THE SPONSORS: Our main sponsor last year, WordPress, has not yet committed. However, I know they are hunting for a house near BBQ Fest to rent that week, which is a strong sign. Their financial commitment will likely be about half of what it was last year, but that’s still significant. With a much less elaborate booth design and with the new cookteam supplying the food, we should have no problem remaining within budget. We have backup plans in case WordPress does not come through.

As I mentioned, Blind Bear is back as a sponsor and they will be running the bar.

MEMBERSHIP: Clay has confirmed the dues will remain the same as last year: $250 individual, $350 couples. You must be a real-life couple to join at the couples rate.

We need to get an email out to last year’s team members. Hopefully that will happen this week. We also need to get a PayPal link set up so people can, you know, pay their dues and stuff. The team has enough money in the bank to cover the Memphis in May entry fee already, but we need to know who is coming back fairly soon so we can get Friends & Family Night tickets, wristbands, etc.

After mentioning the Moody Ques on the blog last week, I’ve already had one new person express an interest in joining. We need to find out who’s returning and who’s not, but I’m fairly confident there will be a few spots open.

I want to close out by saying I bear no ill feelings toward Double J, who was our sponsor last year and will not be coming back. They are a fine place to grab a steak or some ribs and listen to some live music. And besides, where else can you get a free limo ride to a Grizzlies or Tigers game? Although we’re not working with the Double J folks this year, they’re still our friends.

Nor do I bear any ill feelings toward Brent from Holliday Flowers, our booth designer last year who has decided not to come back. If you need an event planned, he is absolutely the person I would recommend you contact. I have been to events he has done, both BBQ Fest and elsewhere, and his design is absolutely outstanding. He’s expecting a baby around the time of BBQ Fest and I wish him and his family the best.

Team members or prospective members, email me at if there are questions and I will pass them on to the team leaders. (Edit: Clay has given me permission to post his email address too. It’s I’ll try to get a Tuesday news update post up after work.

It’s about time

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I went to the Silly Goose tonight and came out victorious in poker. That hasn’t happened in a while, despite numerous seconds and thirds. Tonight I took the main prize, a $50 gift certificate at the Goose.

I had a sick hand where I went all in with Queen-Deuce. I was extremely short stacked and had to do something. My opponent turned over AA, obviously not what I wanted to see. My Queen was a diamond, and when four diamonds fell on the board I hit my flush and stayed in, cracking the Aces. A short time later I won. Shout-out to my opponents Brian and Winn who were the other two of the final 3 and played some outstanding poker. I really enjoyed it.

Home eating some chili cheese tamales from Huey’s then bed. If you want to join for poker Jamie hosts a game tomorrow at the Blind Bear at 8. Free to play.

Getting creative with raw oysters at the Flying Fish

Yesterday I got hungry mid-afternoon, and decided to take advantage of the 50 cent raw oyster deal that the Flying Fish runs on Sundays. I got a little creative with my oysters. Here’s what I did. I started, obviously, with a raw oyster:

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I remember when I was a kid in school, and it was chili day in the lunchroom. Some of the kids crushed up saltine crackers inside their packets, and then dumped them in the chili and mixed them in. I’d never thought of doing it that way, but it seemed good. Yesterday I decided crushed crackers would make a good topping for oysters as well as chili.

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Next it was time for a little hot sauce. The Fish has about five different bottles of hot sauce, in various flavors and heat levels, on each table. I selected Melinda’s Habanero Hot Sauce.

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Since habanero is one of the spiciest of all peppers, only a few drops were necessary to do the trick.

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I was by no means done adding peppers to my oyster, though. I had ordered a basket of fried jalapeno peppers for $2.99.

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The peppers came with a cup of ranch dressing. I dipped a pepper slice in a generous portion of ranch, and then placed it atop the oyster.

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Now the oyster was ready to eat. Pro tip if you do this: Make sure you get a good firm stab into the pepper as you pull the oyster out of its shell with your fork. If you don’t, the pepper will likely fall off the slimy oyster before it makes it to your mouth. I learned that on the very first one.

While at the Fish, I made note of a few other things on the menu that I want to come back and try.

  • Gumbo and grits, $7.99
  • Jambalaya, $8.99
  • 18 oz. jumbo margarita. Didn’t notice the price. I guess the Fish will be my new go-to place for margaritas now that Rio Loco has closed.

That’ll do it for now. I may reverse my usual running order of Saucer then Goose because I may need to talk about BBQ with some people. I will have some team info to post tomorrow. I know people have been waiting on it.

Made it to heads-up at poker last night but didn’t win. Perhaps tonight will be my night.

The Oscars: One of my least favorite days of the year

I could not tell you the last time I went to a theater and watched a movie. I can tell you that it has not happened yet during this decade. I just am not a movie person. And therefore I couldn’t care less about the Oscars. Which is a problem because every damn bar in the city, it seems, shows the awards ceremony with sound on. You can’t get away from it.

It also seems like a different crowd comes out that night. I remember two or three years ago, I ended up at Bardog on Sunday night. Now, keep in mind that Bardog is a locals’ bar less than a block from where I live. It’s just about impossible to not know someone in there. But on that Sunday night, I knew not a soul, and everyone in the room had their eyes glued to the TV. Except me, that is. “Where did these people come from?” I wondered. “I’ve never seen any of them before.” The Oscars kill half of my Sunday Fun Day.

Last night I was in Blind Bear about midnight, and Jamie asked if I’d be playing poker today. At the time I was undecided, but now it seems like a damn fine idea. Poker is the anti-Oscars.

Although, I have met one Oscar I liked this weekend…


About 7 last night I went in the Majestic for dinner. I wanted to stick with something in the medium-priced range, as I’d already made a generous donation to the Flying Saucer Fund yesterday. I’d pulled up the menu on my phone and pretty much decided on the Majestic’s tender, juicy roasted half-chicken.

Before I could get the words out of my mouth, bartender Frank said, “We have a special tonight. It’s Filet Oscar, an 8 ounce filet topped with crab meat and Bearnaise sauce. It comes with sides of asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes.”


I ordered it medium rare and it came out perfectly prepared. The crab meat/Bearnaise not only served as a delicious topping for my filet, but as a delicious dipping sauce for my garlic mashed potatoes. Although I spent a little more than I intended for dinner, I had absolutely no problem with it because I got a first-class meal. I had no idea the green Muppet who lives in a garbage can knew how to prepare such a fabulous steak.

(Apologies for mentioning a filthy garbage can in a food post. I’ve seen worse, though.)

I wish I’d asked Frank to recommend a nice red wine to go with the filet, but as I said I’d been hitting it hard at the Saucer for several hours. I settled for a Coke with my meal. That allowed me to keep going until 2 AM, something I haven’t done a lot of on the weekends lately. I caught about an hour of Jayna Morgan and the Sazerac Sunrise Jazz Band at Blind Bear. They were excellent, authentic ’20s speakeasy music. I wrapped things up at Bardog, taking a tip from my friend Pete who reminded me it’s really good in there very-late-night.

I didn’t get up until 10:30, so I won’t make brunch at the Majestic today. I’ll probably lead off at the Saucer, then migrate to the Silly Goose where I need to discuss a few things with people. Then on to poker at Blind Bear. Perhaps I’ll bring a set of earplugs so I don’t have to hear the Oscars while I play.

Sat update: Beale Street Landing, cheap craft beer, Mad Earl hiring, and a milestone plate party

The Memphis Business Journal posted updated information about the restaurant that is going to operate at Beale Street Landing. It will be called Riverside Grill and will have a 20-foot vertical rotating sign on Riverside Drive. There will also be a Maggie Moo’s inside Beale Street Landing, and the restaurant will sell bottled water and soft drinks for the people who are out enjoying Tom Lee Park.

I figure most people who read my blog read Kerry’s I Love Memphis Blog too, but for those who don’t, she wrote a post yesterday about where to buy craft beer cheaply in Memphis.

The Mad Earl, the new sports bar on Madison opening next month, will be interviewing from 2 to 7 PM Monday through Friday of next week.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I had a rather significant plate party to attend last night at the Flying Saucer. If you join the bar’s UFO Club and drink 200 different beers, you get a plate on the wall with your name on it, and a bar tab to have a party for you and your friends. Last night was a milestone, because it was Gary “G-Rock” Smith’s TWENTIETH plate party. 200 different beers, 20 different times.


In addition to the beer, we had an ice cream cake to celebrate the achievement.

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After the party ended, I decided to keep my tab open with our server, Ciara, and hang out for a while longer. I didn’t want to stand at the bar, since I didn’t have my tab there. So I hung out by the doors that separate the inner bar and the Garden and watch people stream in after the Grizzlies game. I had three different people come up and tell me they read my blog. That was really cool, and I had a really good time talking to the people I met last night. About 12:30 I decided it was time for bed…

But wait! I hadn’t been to the Blind Bear yet. Being mayor of three bars on Foursquare is not easy. So off to the Bear I went for a PBR.

Plans for today: Another plate party. My friend Bill will be joining me in the “7 plates” club. His party is at 3, but since I like to be fashionably early I’ll probably get there around 12. After the plate party, plans TBD.

Fri update: LUVGLO, Double J/NASCAR, Central BBQ/cornhole, ticket scalpers, Memphis wrasslin’, bikes and burritos

LUVMUD, which did the 5K mud race on Mud Island last year, is coming back Downtown. This morning they announced that their LUVGLO night run will start and end at the Tennessee Brewery. Start time is 9:30 PM on Friday, April 26. More info here.

Double J will open their Loft Bar early this Sunday, at noon, for the NASCAR race.

Later in the day Sunday, Central BBQ Downtown will hold a cornhole tournament. $5 buy-in, with proceeds to benefit St. Jude. $3 beers. Start time is 5 PM.

There’s a good guest column by the Orpheum’s Pat Halloran in the Commercial Appeal today. He’s supporting legislation to make Internet ticket scalpers more accountable. He tells a story of a family who paid $215 per ticket for a show on a California-based ticket site, when they could have purchased tickets in a similar location from the Orpheum’s box office for $15 apiece. Many of these sites pose as the official Orpheum site, or the official site of the acts who perform there.

Good Facebook page to “Like”: Classic Memphis Wrestling

This is a really neat story: Bike riders distribute warm burritos to the homeless in Midtown and Downtown. They also hand out clothing and hand warmers.

That’ll do it for now. Got a friend’s plate party at the Flying Saucer tonight that is rather significant. Will probably pre-game at the Silly Goose for a beer or two first.

Thur update: Mad Earl Facebook page and more info, new florist, reaction to Memphis/Olympics, Majestic to open early Sat. for Tigers crowd

The Mad Earl, the new sports pub on Madison that plans to open on St. Patrick’s Day, now has a Facebook fan page. “Like” the page to receive updates on what is going on with the Earl. See my previous post from last night for more information about this new bar.

By the way, I re-read the Daily News article about the Mad Earl, and I saw that their signature sandwich will be a Chicago-style Italian roast beef sandwich. That’s one of my very favorites! Shout-out to my buddy Chuck in Chicago who makes great Italian roast beef sandwiches.

Further information just released: Most of the food at the Mad Earl will be prepared sous-vide so it will be ready super-quick.

Driving to work this morning, I noticed a new florist/boutique. It’s called J. London and is at 26 S. Second, which would put it just north of the intersection at Monroe. Unless I’m mistaken, that is the first florist we have had Downtown in several years.

MemphiSport has posted a collection of tweets tagged #MemphisOlympiad, in response to Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton receiving a letter asking if Memphis would be interested in hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics. They left out one of the best tweets I saw, though, which suggested that aggressive panhandling could be made an Olympic sport for the Memphis games.

The Majestic Grille will open early, at 10:30 AM, on Saturday, so that patrons can enjoy brunch before the noon Tiger game at FedExForum vs. Southern Miss.

Time to get rained on as I run to the car for lunch. Possibly back with a second post this evening.