Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 3: When I was Walking in The Land of the Delta Blues

I awoke feeling uncomfortable due to the weather around 6 am and realized the only possibility of getting warm and staying so lay in driving. So I leaned across the seat groping for my keys to get some heat blowing while stuffing the luggage in the trunk. I crawled into the drivers seat and reached for Wilson and plugged in "nearest coffee". I hit up Starbucks then headed west toward Memphis. While on the highway I took in as much of the Tennessee countryside as I could, it was fairly un-intriguing with little or no noticeable points of interest on the way. I may have been in the wrong part of Tennessee but I came away nonplussed, it was like eastern Washington only with a more prominent scattering of trees, mixed with some random "Palouse" like hills. I rolled into the land of the blues around noon. I had no desire to see Memphis and even less interest in blues music history and was intent on breezing on past and get over the Mississippi River and into Arkansas. But something caught my eye in the way of a huge Billboard sign "Blues national music festival" I was probably never going to be here again so at the last moment I swerved onto the exit and hit the on ramp into City Center. I figured if I didn't like it I could leave early. "Wilson" was telling me to turn left onto historic Beal Street which was blocked off due to the music festival.I found an alternate route heading toward the Fed Ex center where the Memphis Grizzlies played.  

      At this point I was taking turns faster than I knew what was happening, one way streets were common and the stoplights were conveniently located on side street poles, so you had to keep glancing from side to side to not accelerate into oncoming  traffic. My stress anxiety at a high I navigated around  road blocks with people honking. People on the east coast are way too happy on the horn.  It was all the restraint I could muster not to slow to a crawl then a stop, get out and walk over to the car and yell "hey Flintstone, lay off the horn or ill park the d**n thing right here, and you can walk to wherever your going". I saw the FedEx Dome and a red light shoot by me on one intersection. I eventually found a parking garage and headed out toward Beal Street. I found a Starbucks sign and was peeved to discover no wi-fi but I did meet this Guy from Australia, who was a writer, he told me I should start an online blog if I enjoyed writing, and jot down anything that comes to mind. He inspired me to do so, I I got his name on a peice of paper to look up his blog but I misplaced it, it prob. ended up in a lint wad, he also told me this was actually a world-wide event and blues artists from all over the world came here. I was unaware of the proceedings and flirted with the idea of staying around for the night but instead decided to hit up a few of the bars and hang around town for a bit. I cared so little about blues music that the significance of such an event was not still not worth the ticket money or fighting  hordes of people. In one bar there was a band playing from Ireland, the lead singer had a packer hat on and the guy in back looked like a gentleman from the late civil war era, the last member was a large man piping on this massive sousaphone. the pipe wrapped around his entire body, and he was sweatin' it pretty hard, it looked like from the amount of effort he was exerting he should be a lil thinner. There were signs flashing band names and blues artists who I had never heard of and music playing from open doors and windows as I traversed the historic street. Many artists, I learned came here with nothing but a trumpet and saxophone and bag for personal belongings; attempting to make a living and reach fame by honing their trade, with names  like Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson. In a way I felt similar yet had no desire to be toting around such cumbersome belongings or desire to play them. Yet I related to the wandering yeoman theme of those adventuring blues artists. As I was leaving the Memphis "Hard Rock Cafe" Marc Cohn's song "When I was walking in Memphis" all of a sudden hit me, running through my mind: " I boarded the plane. Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues. In the middle of the pouring rain. Yeah I got a first class ticket. But I'm as blue as a boy can be. Then I'm walking in Memphis, walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale. Walking in Memphis, but do I really feel the way I feel" I was walking in Beale too at that time. I walked up to the statue of Elvis and a seemingly unusually generous homeless man took my pic, only to want money for it, I pitched him a dollar, it was all the cash I had in my wallet, he wasn't happy, but I didnt care. I then went back to my car and headed west on I-40 toward Little Rock.

       I felt the approaching storm beat against my lil car as I made my way trough Arkansas. I stopped at the first town and got some cocoa and coffee, while at a subway I glanced in the mirror and noticed how bedraggled I was getting and how far along my beard was getting. I thought: this can't continue, and looked for a cheap motel. When I arrived at the Super 8 I walked out into a fierce gale, there was already ice coating the parking lot. I felt like a creature of the night seeking refuge and shelter before the storm. I turned on the news in my motel room and heard weatherman say an epic storm was about to torrent throughout the midwest. The area he circled on the map was west of my location. He advised to stay indoors and avoiding driving if possible. I arrived safe and  I knew approaching adventures in the icy cold lay ahead.

No comments:

Post a Comment