Howdy, friends! Sorry it's been so long since I've written, but it was a VERY busy week in Memphis. So busy that I'm almost having trouble remembering everything just to write my blog!
We got to town on Monday and immediately got what we were all waiting for.....Memphis BBQ. Almost the ENTIRE cast and crew walked through the rain to get to the Blues City Cafe on Beale street to start the week off with some ribs, brisket and steak. Mmmm.....BBQ.
Things started off quickly and extremely well on Tuesday. The boys and m'am played a promo on Tuesday afternoon at the Rock and Soul museum for the local press and reprensentatives from the theatre. Me and a few of the cast took the tour, and it was a great way to kick off the week.
I wandered around Beale St. for a while, taking in the sites, and learning quite a bit about the history of some of the buildings from some extremely nice people on the street. I then ventured into a mainstay of Beale, Tater Red's. I struck up a conversation with Tater himself about his shop, the fact that he grew up with The Quartet, and had fond memories of playing slot machines with Carl Perkins later in his life. He also pointed out the huge collection of drum heads he had on the ceiling of his store. Bands that have come through, solo performers, and TONS of national tours. So, I arranged to have our cast sign one for him, and above you'll see a picture of me presenting it to him in his store, right before he saw the show Friday night!
Along with the sight-seeing (which I will get to in a bit) we were blessed to be visited by some amazing performers. On Thursday night, Stan Perkins, Carl Perkins' son played onstage with the boys. Let me tell you....he is the spitting image of his father. Looks like him, sounds like him; and just as kind as I've heard Carl was. Now, he's a talented musician in his own right, but he joined the cast onstage to play a couple of his dad's songs: Everybody's Tryin' To Be My Baby (one of my personal favorites) and Get Your Cat Clothes on. Man, can he play that guitar. W.S. "Fluke" Holland joined us again on Friday, and it was a pleasure as always. Then, our very own music director, Chuck Mead joined us on Saturday! He played Red Hot with the boys, and though I've seen him perform in NYC at the Rodeo Bar, this was a major treat to see him tear it up with our cast. Can't wait for his new record to come out at the end of the month.
Now, back to the other events of the week. On Tuesday night, me and the Thunderstudy boys sang yet another National Anthem at The FedEx Forum for a Memphis Grizzlies vs. Houston Rockets game. We ran around quite a bit, doing a soundcheck at the arena, running back to the theatre for orientation, heading back to sing, and then back to the theatre again for opening night. We capped our busy day off by having a great opening night party back at the Rock and Soul Museum. Whew. What a day.
Wednesday we all headed over to the historic Peabody Hotel to watch our boys become honorary Duck Masters....I'd try to explain the whole thing here, but I have way too much to write. However, I do have a few videos below of the whole ceremony, so check them out, and for more information look it up on Google. We then took off for Graceland, and had a tour of Mr. Presley's famous house. I went their about 7 years ago, but it was still great to see it. Me and the boys made a great day of it, got some great schwag, which I am a sucker for, and even got to see our bilboard IN Graceland. That was a trip!
We got back from Graceland and The Jam and I went to Lansky's legendary shop. I couldn't resist....I HAD to buy a western shirt.....I mean, c'mon, the man made clothes for Elvis and Johnny Cash....how could I not? Before we left town I went back in with Rachael (who visited for the weekend) and my friend Tim and his girlfriend Gina, and was lucky enough to talk to Mr. Lansky himself! Hal, who's father started the shop, showed me some great pictures of him and Johnny and Elvis, and told some fantastic stories about "the old days".
On Friday, Billy, Rosie, The Jam and I visited the Stax Museum. What an amazing place. The original Stax Records crumbled in decay in the 1980's, but that have done a great job of revitalizing the entire block, and making a very cool interactive museum. A must see if you are in Memphis. We then went to see Johnny Cash's first house in Memphis.....unfortunately that part of town is not so great anymore.....and for fear of getting shot.....I didn't get a picture. Boo.
Rachael and I got to take the tour of Sun Studio on Saturday, and though it was very busy, it was just as cool as I had remembered it; though, not quite as cool as the highlight of our trip, which I will get to in a bit. It was so nice to get to take her there, and see the look on her face as she discovered the magic I did 7 years ago. And, of course, I bought a ridiculous amount of schwag.
Now to the highlight of our visit (the AMAZING BBQ pork-shoulder at Rendezvous notwithstanding) was BY FAR getting to record at Sun. Not only did Lee write a great new song, but he asked us to record it with him there. We have been working on it for a few weeks (hopefully you've watched the videos I posted previously; there are a bunch more below), but we finally got to walk into that studio and record. I'm not sure I can even describe what it was like to be in that room; I was just overcome with emotion. Knowing that all of those people, but especially Johnny, were in that room and recorded some of the most important, world-changing music ever created was truly humbling. Then to be able to sing into some of the very same equipment that was used by Sam Phillips? I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. Billy recorded another one of his awesome songs as well, and since the entire cast, most of the crew, and even our producers and writers were there, we all hung out and talked, listened and enjoyed the evening at Sun. Amazing.
Well, that's about all (I think), but it's really hard to explain all that we experienced, all that we saw, and all the emotion I felt. We really could've been there for at least another week, if not two or three. There's just a feeling that overcomes you as you walk down Beale, or step into the Orpheum....or, of course, in Sun Records. If you have as much of an attachment to the music as I do, I'm sure you would feel the same.
So, enjoy the pictures and videos, and keep checking back for more posts as we continue our way across this great land! See ya later, alligator!