So tonight is the big Punch Party; a Gold Unit tradition five years running.
The basic premise is this: The band "hosts" the party which just means we set the date/time/location, nominate and elect the 5 judges, and decorate.
Then, anyone who wants to enter a punch (alcoholic of course) to be judged signs up. The categories are: Best Taste, Worst Taste, Most Alcoholic, Best Presentation, and Best Overall.
There are some on this show ::cough cough keyboardplayers cough cough:: that take this event very seriously and try to pull out all the stops.
I'm trying to cover the fact that I've never made a punch before by going all out with presentation (not necessarily of the punch itself).
Anyway.....while the punch is chilling in the fridge, I'll write about Memphis since I never got around to it.
After narrowly (like seriously.....nar-row-ly) escaping the wrath of Gustav, we made it to Memphis.
I learned 3 things during my stay:
1. There are more annoying beggars in that city than anywhere else I've ever been.
2. Beale Street is comparable to Bourbon St insomuch that it's a tourist trap that all of the locals avoid.
3. Circus people know how to celebrate a birthday.
The major event of the stay was going out for Jeff's birthday with about 20 show people.
Our first stop was B.B. King's. Unfortunately, it ended up being just as bad as I had imagined (minus the awesome company mind you). $5 cover (whatever no big deal) but the lady at the register gave me my change and held back a dollar, held it up and asked "for me? for me? for me? for me?". Ummmm...what? It was obvious she was going to stand there with my dollar until I gave her permission to drop it in her tip jar. Yeah, a tip jar for the woman collecting the cover at the door.
I ordered a double Jack and Coke and learned too late that I had made a mistake. I'm used to the Pittsburgh version where a double Jack and Coke is twice as strong and don't cost no doggone $14.00. Lame.
The band was pretty good. I had foolishly mentioned to Justin that if I could hold my own playing the blues that I would like to sit in (keep in mind this was not an open session). No sooner had I mentioned this then Justin said "Ok well you're playing tonight."
"Uh no, I really don't want to sit in"
"Yes you're sitting in. I'll be right back"
The band was on break so he was off talking to all of them trying to convince them to let me come sit in. Seriously, I had no desire to sit in with a bunch of real blues musicians and make everyone including myself uncomfortable. But he wouldn't let it go. Asking over and over, talking to every single band member.
A couple other show people caught wind of what was happening and joined in trying to get me to play. I'm all for sitting in places where I'm comfortable. This was NOT one of those places. When the band took the stage for the next set Justin told me "OK it took a lot of convincing but they are probably going to call you down to play".
So, I left and went across the street. When I came back out our whole crew had decided to move to another bar. Phew. Crisis averted.
We ended up at Coyote Ugly. Yeehaw.
We were the only ones in the bar and there was only one bartender.
It ended up being a great time though with the crew we had out. We had drunk Ollie (hi-laaar-ious) providing commentary to the show on the TV. It was that dude that travels around the world and eats disgusting local food. T'was MST3K worthy.
There was one of those punching bag arcade games where you (obviously) punch it and it gives you a score of manliness or something. Things were going fine until Robbie stepped up to the plate. He wound up, charged forward, and completely whiffed nearly falling to the ground. To his credit he did hit it on the second try and scored....well....it registered anyway.
Eventually a Russian dance party ensued which I was able to take a quick video of before the bouncer came over and gruffly informed me of their 'no video' policy.
The acrobats of course eventually started stacking on each other and the ICG's ended up posing in the bathtub thing.
Donnie scored big outside the bar. Some drunken bum and his trashy buddy approached him with a plastic bag and said:
"Doan even say nuttin' til you see what's in this bag"
Turns out to be a pair of shoes.
"These are $200 shoes man, how much you give me? How much you give me?"
Donnie made an offer of $5.
"$5?!?! These are $200 shoes...blahblahbalhblah"
::dramatic pause:: "Damn. Ok man gimmie the five bucks"
"Oh, I only I have $4 actually"
It's worth at least $20 to have the opportunity to pay $4 for a pair of shoes a dirty bum is selling out of a bag in Memphis
After closing out CU, we meandered down the street and found a bar open until 3. I bailed and went home but a couple people kept the party going.
I didn't experience the aftermath first hand, but apparently Jeff had quite an adventure later that night involving a lack of clothing, losing balance, an open trailer door, a set of trailer stairs, and the pavement.
Total Rockstar birthday.
So that was Memphis. I went to the Rock and Soul museum which was OK and I got satisfy my need to visit Wolf River Harbor and be a good Jeff Buckley fan.
It was a bit morbid but rather funny with my GPS announced "Arriving at Jeff Buckley on right" since that's what I named the location. Good stuff.
It is freaking pouring here in Bloomington. But it feels sooooo good to be back in the North with cooler temperatures. I don't know if it's just the air or maybe the trees but you can just tell when you're back in the North. Feels good.
Bloomington report coming including what I'll be able to remember of the Punch Party.