Melting Pot…

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Published on: February 6, 2014

I arrived home from Memphis, Tennessee last week and there is much to report! As I mentioned before, I went down with the Dan Doiron Band to compete in the 30th Annual International Blues Challenge representing the east coast of Canada. Big thanks to Dale Schimph and Cathy Prothro from the East Coast Blues Society for their tireless efforts and support. Though we didn’t bring home the prize, we had an amazing time and made some new friends and contacts.

For many newcomers to Memphis, their experience begins and ends on Beale street. It is true that Beale is a vibrant and bustling destination filled with bars, clubs, and restaurants billowing music of all sorts, but the one place that has everything I want to see is located at 926 East McLemore Ave.; home of the Stax Museum.

Stax

Stax Records was responsible for launching the careers of countless soul, blues, and funk artists like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes, and Booker T and the MG’s. I had visited once before about four years ago and it was a gratifying and emotional experience, but this time was extra special. Our organ player, a 20 year old prodigy named Leith, grew up on a steady diet of Stax artists and he credits Booker T and the MG’s as his main inspiration. To be standing with him in the same room as Booker T’s Hammond M3 he used to record ‘Green Onions’ was spine tingling to say the least, and for him it was downright spiritual. He was visibly overwhelmed.

LeithandtheM3

Standing next to Al Jackson Jr.’s drums was another goosebumps moment:

AJsdrums

We also got to check out Sun Records, which represented a starting point for many legendary acts such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. In fact, early in their careers all four got together for a jam session at Sun and we got to stand in that very room; Hallowed ground indeed!

Sunrecords

Later that day, my travelling companions indulged me by joining me on my visit to the famous Memphis Drum Shop. After much perusing, I discovered a room full of vintage drums of all kinds. Being a part of a Beatles tribute band for almost ten years, the picture below was naturally a highlight:

Allyouneedisdrums

In the evening, Brad the bass player and I caught a Memphis Grizzlies game. It was my first NBA experience and it won’t be my last. I was thoroughly entertained the entire time. For those interested, the Grizzlies trampled the Houston Rockets.

Another landmark that I unfortunately missed last time was the Civil Rights museum. I managed to rectify the oversight this time around and am so glad I did. There was so much fascinating information to take in regarding the events leading up to Martin Luther King Jr.’s tragic death as well as his historic efforts to put African Americans and minorities on equal footing. There is so much more progress that needs to be made, but it was shocking and heartbreaking to read peoples accounts of how blacks were treated back then. The picture below shows the very place where MLK was assassinated.

inmemoryofmlk

All in all, the Memphis trip was one of the best and I’m so proud and grateful to have been a part of it. Kudos to the boys in the band for all their hard work! I got to witness some great blues music, see some historic sights, catch an NBA game, and eat some tasty ribs. By the way, I never made it to Graceland this time either….there’s always next time!

Here is a link to one of our performances at the New Daisy Theatre:

Dan Doiron Band at the New Daisy

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