US Road Trip Epilog: 8th June 2005

Get on out there on Highway 51. 250 or so miles due south. With the benefit of hindsight this is a bit too far to be traveling in one day in this heat, especially as I still daren't use the aircon.

Highway 51 through Kentucky
Highway 51 through Kentucky. Well, it was about time for a 'through the windshield' photo.

The car runs impeccably all day, though given the heat it's still not overly happy when waiting at traffic lights in Drive, and by late afternoon we're parked-up in the hotel (following, of course, a check on the transmission fluid). I think we'll both have a day off from driving tomorrow.

Big Ass Beer
Can you guess where I am yet?

Yes, a return to Memphis. Well I could hardly drive straight past the place, could I? My motel room downtown overlooks Court Square and shortly after I check in a blues group start playing in the little bandstand there. I don't know if all visitors to Memphis get this kind of welcome, but I'm certainly grateful.

The band above were playing outside one of the bars on Beale St. Being a southpaw myself, I'm always interested to see left-handed guitarists. This guy, like Jimi Hendrix, plays a right-handed guitar upside-down. That might explain his storming solo on All Along The Watchtower, then.

Bikes on Beale St.
Bikes on Beale St.

The boys are back in town. Well, to be honest, the middle-aged-or-older men are back in town. Bikers often make for a loud and enthusiastic crowd when watching a band, and this lot are no exception.

The Dempseys
The Dempseys in action. At this point the double bass player has abandoned his instrument and is assisting the lead guitarist. The Dempseys do this kind of thing a lot.

What drew me in to the Blues City Cafe was not actually blues at all, it was something more akin to psychobilly - like Hank Williams meets the Ramones with added amphetamines. It's immediately obvious that The Dempseys are something a bit special. The nearest bands I've seen to them are probably The Sadies, a Canadian band who tour the UK fairly frequently, and the country-punk of Jason And The Scorchers. They close their first set with a medley that incorporates Steppenwolf, Jimmie Rodgers, The Sex Pistols and Johnny Cash. You don't hear that every day.

As well as being musically gifted, there also very funny and great to watch. The double bass player actually manages to play the thing behind his head and, as in the above photo, the band members all like to assist each other from time to time. During some songs they like to swap instruments so that, for instance, you might end up with the lead guitarist on drums, the drummer on double bass and the bassist standing on top of the double bass playing lead guitar. It's a hell of a show.

US Road Trip Epilog: 9th June 2005 >