Hustle & Flow in the Streets of Memphis

 Hey ... ain't that  the cat I jammed with hangin' with Taryn ? I recently found out she and her brother's band cut their demo on a PS 2 game called MUSIC MAKER. No Shit !


Memphis not Egypt

The one Stateside.

The one internationally known as a mecca for musicians  as far as I am concerned, since most of the cash I have survived on throughout my days as a drummer, as flowed through the streets and jukes of Memphis.

NOTE: Please remember I played drums in college. I worried 'bout marching and I didn't not pay much attention in English 101 although the teacher was damn cool. Steve Ebe can tell ya all about it.

 Sorry for the typos.

Hopefully 'nuff said.

Just like it has for over a hundred years, the place has served has a refuge for the musicians from Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas, who have been entering the city gates or crossin' those bridges for their own different reasons.

Some to perhaps catch a riverboat down to New Orleans or up to St Louis ... some to record at the legendary SUN studios and make a record for "they Mommas" ... or perhaps just seek gainful employment in the old tyme music industry. Which they couldn't find in the rural towns they grew up in.

"Rock n Roll Money"

"Cuz the Blues had a baby and they called it Rock n Roll"

Crossin' the Mighty Mississippi into Memphis Town

Yes, the jobs have flown from Memphis like the river itself.

The gig maybe a blues jam at the now gone Poor Reds or a heavy fly date to play behind the likes of Issac Hayes, Tanya Tucker, Wynonna or my fav the time I even got to fly to NYC once to do Cool Hand Luke's drum roll entrance !

So I think ya get the pic ?

Memphis has been good to me musically but, like every major city it has had it's share of pitfalls.

Some which have left me crawling back out of the streets of South Memphis penniless and in between jobs that were high profile and paid enough to write home and tell Momma. Leaving me with enough cash to get cars and serious drums and well ... just fun stuff !

But no regrets.

I often returned from the underbelly of the city with more soul than any white man should be allowed to carry in his drumstick bag at one time. 

And the good times.

Well they're just good.

Very good.

I would like to add that out of all the pro and con gigs I have worked in that town, for instance; things like the Memphis Blues Ball, some high profile political events, or major shows at the Omni New Daisy on Beale right before rushing over to help out John at the Overton Park Shell.

or let me see ...

Jammin' on percussion with my ole pals SON OF SLAM and keeping asses in seats at that lil' Irish pub MURPHY's, where I finally was exposed to the presence of Timothy Leary in person.

One night we all kept the crowd for two more MURPHYS' encores after we had done three, while I passed out my percussion instruments to the crowd and encouraged them to damn well join in. They rocked !

But the best is sometimes free.

The best gig, as in the one I always enjoyed the most, is the one right there at Beale Street's Handy Park. Man you can feel the funk "slithering" outta the ground from the footsteps of the likes of Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf, Tommy Johnson, Sam Carr, and of 'course WC HANDY.

  The immortal WC Handy watches over the park. Some local legends have it that he left Memphis for NYC in disgust after an incident which involved the rolling of a black man's severed head down the middle of  Beale Street.

I can remember many a warm summer day when I got offa tour bus and threw on some raggdy ass clothes, dug out the most broke down looking snare and bass drum I had and headed down in to HANDY PARK to play for tips and tips alone.

There the music is truly adored.

Be it by the tourists from all over the world yearning for one of the few spots on the park benches or the local street folk, who are holding down the those benches. But they will gladly slide over for few of a drinks of a tasty libation or in some case just to share the music with the newcomers.

Now this gig is strictly for tips.

The old pickle jar in front of the stage with the likes of the late great bass man BIG T barking over the mic, "come up here and put a dollar in the tip bucket and tell us where your from." or my personal favorite, " If you put a $100 in there you will have good luck the rest of your life, but I will have good luck TONIGHT !"


 Yes sir folks been gathering on Beale for a long time

You know I have seen many a good, possibly gonna be a great player, get lost in all the biz and shuffle that comes with this industry and when that happens to me (cuz I sure as hell ain't no exception to the rule) I tend to "mosey" on down to the park to get in touch with the real reason I am playing in the first place.

The love of the music.

Course, there were days there when you could make an easy living just outta that bucket and there were some days which completely sucked and we were barely lucky to get hamburger money or change for a forty.

I found more often than not the enjoyment came straight from just sittin' with folks and passing the bottle while tellin' tales of what's went down in the park over the years. The old timers are becoming few and far between , but a few still remain.

You never know what your rewards might be for tips as well !

Hell ... I remember this one time when I was playing behind Blues extraordinaire Jimmy Wolfe that I was tipped in a very unorthodox, yet thoughtful manner that involved ... well ... use your imagination and think about the scene in HUSTLE & FLOW where they are haggling over the microphone in the store.

There's more than one form of currency in the streets of Memphis. It's always been that way and probably always will.

BTW: Check out Jimmy Wolfe's site. He is on my friends list. He is an awesome guitarist and one of the main cats I worked the park with on many a sultry day.

But enough ads

Memphis, if ya catch my drift man is just plain cool. Funky and a hugh part of America's musical history that we should be damn proud of !

But like any positive thing there is always a negative side and in the words of one of my favorite writers:

 Hunter S Thompson

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.

The Dark End of the Memphis Streets

Check out the Rock City Angel's version of "Dark end of the Street" to be released in 2006

Like many a career musician I have had to go through some personal lil' demons (read suits) that although I have kept them at bay most of my life, I know they are forever and always ready to sprout again under the light of a blue moon.

Memphis is of all the places I have been ... the place that has taught me how to keep those dragons at bay and I recommend a nice lil' stay in the Bluff City for any aspiring young musician to your ROAD FEET wet before going out into this real business of music.

I learned the ropes in that town early. Having spent time in both extremes of what the town has to offer.

From jet setting it at the  South's grand PEABODY HOTEL (where my SONOR drums kept a room for a month or so) to crashing three months on the floor of a Memphis whorehouse, while spending days hanging with my stripper friends and passing out on the nasty dance floors before being drug home ... where ever that may have been.

Now for those of you who don't know me all that well

Before you take a hankering of any bad ideas regarding my current lifestyle I would like to remind ya that all this lil' street education was a long time ago ... in a land far, far away.

I finally grew up musically and emotionally (well a lil' bit) but I know the beast is always at the door. Ya just gotta have a strong door.

Things are brighter now.

Alot brighter than they were then.

So no need to worry about falling back into my old habits and gettin' lost down on Summer Av or somewhere 'round South Memphis' ALKA club or Three the Hard Way Club.

If I did ... please don't come looking for me.

They don't take a likin' to too many white folk in there ... if they don't know 'em that is. Hey that's just the way some parts of Memphis is ... no offense. You can't change history for some folks. Well maybe if your "Rafford" ?

But not to worry

I am sure some of you folks are familiar with the old term "Once a junkie always a junkie" and I fight that line with much success a day at a time. Being a career musician I have of course been exposed to all the drugs and drink. Fun when your young, but you might say I got "sick n' tired of being sick n' tired".

But my personal shadows are always lurking and I find they are part of the very music which inspires me. In fact some of the very fabric of my co-songwriting. EXAMPLE: Rumblefish

or A Lil'  SOUTH MEMPHIS Story

 Once I was nearly arrested for working with a young black rapper called BIG MAN 'round 1995. We had broke from the session to grab some Barbacue and got pulled over on the way back.

Reason ? Not the food. Hell no ! Although try that place out some time.

Cop said the a blackman and a whiteman didn't look right driving through this part of Memphis town in my new limited edition T BIRD. Did he ever think maybe we were trying to patch up the bond the Booker T had so well ... before the shooting of DR King ?

Through Writing and Recordings ? Check out Hustle & Flow to catch the white man/blackman scene has it works Memphis style

Incidently the recordings came out kicking ass. Bigman took 'em and ya just might never know when ya will hear RINGO & THE RAPPERS ... better known by SOUTH MEMPHIS SLIM as ELMO DEE

But that's another story

For another time.

until then.

Beale Street is a lil' bit Disney but worth the ticket if only for sheer history of the blues alone

For those of you who wanna come to Memphis with visions of "Walking in Memphis" floating through your head with your feet ten feet offa Beale. Here are a few places I would recommend to make sure and catch.

Eat at the Blues City Cafe on Beale street.

The price is right "onna pricey" street and the (think DOES outside Greenville, MS) Tamales & Ribs & Steaks are damn good. You veggies can find something too ... but I ain't sure what it is. Just ask.

You can sometime find one of my friends and part-time road managers there.


But see if ya talk to JW keep this in mind. He and I shared many a good time on the road but I ain't shit compared to his twenty year plus gig ... road managing the Killer, JERRY LEE LEWIS.

So say hello for me but keep in mind you are walking in the footsteps of legends when you step on the bricks of Beale.

.. The Killer in one of his least known promo pix

Once your in the Beale Street neighborhood. just well swing 'round the corner and find the CENTER FOR SOUTHERN FOLKLORE.

I at one time thanx to the good graces of QUEENBEE Ms Judy, helped manage this place. You will find there any info you could possibly desire regarding the history and culture of the South and some take homes that are incredible. 

I ain't kiddin' one bit ... you music fiends wont believe it !  While your there ... ask Judy how to get to WILD BILLS ... a taste of music the way it outta be !  

Now if ya are still around through the evening, I highly suggest visting the World famous legendary Poplar lounge. Where you will find every local picker playing. From my friend ALVIN'S Weekend JAM SESSIONS to the legendary Jim Dandy and Ricky from Black Oak Arkansas (most Wednesday nights)doing their acoustic set.

Yes Jim kicks ass on acoustic. Listen to the "LAST DUTCHMANS' GOLDMINE" sometime from one BOA records !

Jim washing clothes in one of his blacker periods

If ya want a taste for something a lil' newer. A stones throw away from the aforementioned Handy Park ya can find the Omni theater.Where ya can take in the national acts, as well as some of the better up and coming locals while still enjoying the smell of Beale street.

I saw some of my closest kindred spirits pass through those doors on their way outta the Memphis grind and into the attention of the world music scene.

From old Angel running mates TORA TORA to the heavy drive of SALIVA or has I like to call em ... a mix between ole pals BLACKBONE and some teenagers I once knew called MODERN IMMATURITY with a few guitars players Durango and I worked with thrown in for good measure.

They're own brand of HUSTLE & FLOW

Course I could keep ramblin' about Memphis for days. I love the place.

Like I said, for me it is both a blessing and a curse, and once again I find myself stepping back into the Hustle. To put together a group of guys that ain't played together in years and make it flow. Sorry I couldn't leave that one alone.

The ever elusive Bobby Durango ... singer from RCA keeps a hide away there and it is home base for the Angels.

See there the problem (curse/blessing) lays ... these are not your straight lace, be on time, at the airports types to start with. These are real rockers from the street with a hunger to come back and take a bite. No matter the cost. 

But given a Rock City rebirth, which is beginning to start brewing ever so nicely. I think it's worth the time to risk my personal fears in lue of the real thing, and see if the band can just rock a hard stage once more and bring joy to those who have waited, watched, and bought our new CDs for too long.

I'm thinkin' it's like the BLUES BROTHERS 1st movie The way the cats get back in the groove and in a way it is, but with things much more dangerous than A Star Wars Princess packing a weapon. No, there's another side of it


Some of you know what I talkin' about others ... just be happy you don't.

They say nothing worth really doing is ever easy.

I have always heard that anyway
 But for some odd reason I think this session could be kickin' if we had some PAYNE'S BARB Q !

If you are so inclined see the movie HUSTLE & FLOW  I think you will get a serious handle on this particular ramblin' of writin' I have layin' down today about the streets of Memphis.


Thanx for droppin' in