May 15, 2012

2012 Beale Street Music Festival recap, Day Three

The third and final day of the Beale Street Music Festival at times reminded me of a day at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, given the 90-degree temperatures and elevated humidity that accompanied Sunday’s action.  But I’m getting a little ahead of myself …

Gypsy and I began our Sunday with a quest to quench another craving for a good Bloody Mary and a filling brunch to go with it.  We remembered the Bardog Tavern last year for both, so we decided to stop by.  Unfortunately, by the time we got to Bardog at 12:30 p.m., there wasn’t a single seat left.  I couldn’t even blame Gypsy’s punctuality issues, either, since they don’t even open until noon.  We tried to wait out the crowd with a Bloody Mary along the back rail, but nobody seemed in a hurry to eat fast.  I guess I can’t blame them.  The omelets are very, very good, as are the Bloody Marys (as long as they go easy on the horseradish).     

No sooner had we finished our first drink when our friends Dan, Trish, Jake and Beth walked in.  After a quick assessment of the situation, our search for breakfast turned into a search for lunch.  We eventually settled for a 30-minute wait at Huey’s.  I won’t go into great detail (Huey’s realy deserves its own blog someday), but suffice to say a Bluez 57 Burger and a large Yuengling on tap did the trick.  And if it didn’t, Dan made sure everyone was stuffed with an order of gigantic potato skins for the entire table.  Gypsy passed on the appetizer but did manage to take down most of her Little Miners sliders. 

We then made the long, slow walk to Tom Lee Park and caught Old 97’s already playing at the Horseshoe Casino Stage.  It was mid-afternoon at this point, and the sun was seriously baking the area in front of the stage.  When I forego shyness and take off my shirt to expose my furry gopher body, you know it’s hot.  I even thought at one point that it was too hot to drink.  But the heat did not take away from an outstanding performance. 

Old 97's attempt to beat the heat.

Gypsy pretty much had the same reaction, and I think it’s safe to say she enjoyed Old 97’s even more than I did.  It couldn’t be the good-looking dudes in the band, could it?

From the Horseshoe stage, Gypsy and I moved on to catch the start of Chris Robinson’s Brotherhood at the Orion Stage.  Not much has changed about Chris since his last work with the Black Crowes … still sounds excellent, and still could use a sammich. 

Like yesterday, we decided to take a break from the heat and go back to the hotel to cool off.  We returned for two more acts on our “must see” list – Bush and Alison Krauss & Union Station.  Hey, at least nobody can accuse us of not having diverse tastes in music.

Bush put on a show that was more than worth the entire day’s admission.  In fact, Gypsy and I both felt Bush was the best show we saw of the festival.  They played a perfect blend of new material with crowd favorites, and really, what more can you ask for an 80-minute set? 

Alison Krauss & Union Station were excellent in their own right, although after Bush, hearing four or five melodic ballads in a row can drag on.  Plus, I was amused by the fact that we could hear Primus from the next stage over their vocals several times.  But, to the band’s credit, they were not distracted by the carryover noise.  One of the highlights of the show was a lengthy solo on the dobro by Jerry Douglas.

Somewhere off in the distance past this guy in the red cap is Alison Krauss & Union  Station.
As an aside, I was not aware that band member Dan Tyminski was the singing voice for George Clooney in the movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” until it was mentioned during the show.  So, it was fitting that their last song (before the encore) was “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow.”  It got a HUGE reaction from the crowd.

We actually left during the encore to avoid a repeat of the night before and beat the rush to Beale Street.  Although we were mildly exhausted at this point, we still wanted to get a late dinner before ending the night.   The Blues City Café at the corner of Beale and Second, and the adjoining bar behind it (George Paul’s Last Call) got our attention.  I had always wanted to try the food here, so we got a seat looking onto Second Street and people-watched while we ate. 

And we got a good show, too.  The cops stopped, and eventually confiscated, this car.  The search went on almost the whole time we were there.  Arrests were made.  Free entertainment for all the onlookers.   

As for the food, the menu leaned toward Memphis standards – barbecue, catfish, steaks, gumbo.  I ordered a Shiner Bock bottle and, since I had not had Memphis barbecue yet this trip, a half rack of ribs. 

And I have to admit, I’ve had better.  They were decent, but they tasted like they were boiled before put on a grill.  It was good, but it wasn’t as good as I was expecting.  On the plus side, the sides of slaw and baked beans were both very good.  And Gypsy’s skillet shrimp were excellent – the best food either of us ordered.  

And since I don’t like to be negative, I have to also put in a good word for the service.  The place was packed and both the bartender and our waitress were very attentive to us given the circumstances.

All in all, it was a rather mundane conclusion to the festival.  At least we didn’t wind up in the back of a squad car.  We went back to the hotel to crash and save some energy for an extra day in Memphis on Monday to visit Sun Studios and hit the casinos in nearby Tunica, Miss.  More on that later. 

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