Day 1…Tuesday May 9th…
My pilgrimage to Memphis for the Blues Music Awards
(formerly the WC Handy Awards) started after my morning air
shift as I headed to Birmingham to spend the night with a
dear friend of 25 years , sportswriter Ron Ingram..Some of
you might have met Ron through the years or at the Blues
Power  Christmas party.  While Ron finished up at the
Birmingham News, I attempted to watch at least part of
American Idol. After enjoying a good meal at a Mexican
Restaurant, we caught up on everything in sports and music.
By the way, Ron told me he has a new book coming out, his
third, in the near future

Day 2…Wednesday May 10th…
Wednesday morning I waited for the morning storm to pass
through Birmingham and set out for my three and  a half hour
trip to Memphis at about 8AM..everything was going smoothly
until I started getting closer to Tupelo where I ran
into the first of three storms. As most of you know driving in
the rain and wind for any period of time will wear you out and
that it did…finally the rain subsided about forty five minutes
east of Memphis..I sort of bypassed Memphis and headed
straight for the Gold Strike Casino in Tunica, about 23 mile
from downtown Memphis, checked in, and made a little
contribution to somebody's big jackpot in the slots

After a short rest I headed another 35 miles south to Helena,
Arkansas to visit my friend Sonny Payne.  If you’re a regular
listener of Blues Power, you’ve heard me mention Sonny,
who has been the host of the daily King Biscuit Show since
1946.  In fact Sonny is nearing his 15,000th show.  At 80
years of age Sonny has a lot of get up and go, in fact after a
couple of his famous martini’s and some great conversation
we got up and went…went to his favorite watering hole and
eating establishment, Oliver’s , at the corner of Cherry St and
Sonny Payne Blvd. . While we enjoyed the usual good meal at
Olivers and a couple of more martinis, sonny brought me up
to date on a lot of people and the things going on.  I headed
back to the Gold Strike about 10pm knowing I’d better get
some sleep now because there would be very little of that the
rest of the week, I was right.

Day 3…Thursday May 11th…
Thursday morning I was at the Marriott downtown Memphis
by about 10am.  The pre-awards get together, the awards
dinner and the post jam are held across the street at the
Cook Convention Center.  As I walked into the lobby of the
Marriott the first person I ran across was Eddie  Shaw, sax
player, former band leader for Howlin’ Wolf for many years.
With Eddie was someone that looked very familiar, he
resembled a character actor that I’ve seen in numerous
movies and television shows. I thought, well, maybe it’s not
who I think it is and if it is I’ll find out later who he might be.  
Next, I ran into Paul Oscher and his great wife Laurie.  First
thing Paul says, “I’ve got something for you” and handed me
a one song dvd of a performance  in Feb at Woodsongs Old
Time Radio Hour, great stuff.  Paul was talking to  former
bandmates, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Pinetop and a couple of
other guys so I didn’t stick around.  As I was walking away,
Billy Boy Arnold  walked by and sat down, so I went over,
introduced myself and we talked for about ten minutes while
he waited for his breakfast.  Billy Boy had come to Memphis
for the Ponderosa Stomp held the previous two nights at the
Gibson Guitar Hall. What a true gentleman, gave him one of
my Blues Power t-shirts and  excused myself when his
breakfast arrived.  As I headed towards the lobby I ran into
another one of my favorite people, Ann Rabson, who
informed me she  was going to be at the King’s Palace Friday
evening with Rich Del Grasso, the blues mandolin player.  I
told her I would definitely be there for at least one set…I try to
catch her every year somewhere, she’s always great.

As I went across the street to the Convention Center to see if
the sound checks had started, I again saw the mystery man
with Eddie.  After seeing them a couple more times I decided
that maybe they were doing a movies about Eddie and his
great musical history and that this gentleman  would portray
Eddie and was just following him around.  The sound checks
had started, this is always a great time to watch…some of the
sound checks I watched were that of  Nick Moss, Shemika
Copeland, Elvin Bishop with Tommy Castro, Big George
Brock, Otis Taylor, Kim Wilson, James Blood Ulmer, and
Janiva Magness.  One of the songs Janiva did at the check
was, “You Were Never Mine”, co-written by Delbert
McClinton, she nailed it and got a rousing ovation from all the
other artists and everybody watching the sound check.  I
could tell this was going to be another magic night.  Then I
saw Bob Margolin walk in, he asked me where I was the last
time he was at the BBC, told him about my bout with the 24
hour virus.  He said, as usual he enjoyed his trip to the BBC in

Back to the Marriott, where I ran into EG Kight, we talked
briefly and then I noticed the whole Delta Groove label was
checking in…As I call them..”The West Coast Music Mafia”..
guys like Junior Watson, Al Blake, Rusty Zinn, Eli Flectcher,
Richard Innes, Johnny Dyer, Finis Tasby, Leon Blue, Kid
Ramos, Mitch Kashmar, Frank Rozak, and Randy Chortkoff
the owner of this great and relatively new label. Got to talk to
most of them, gave out my t-shirt .  I was really looking
forward to their appearance at the New Daisy Theatre Friday

Went back to my room for a quick turn around trip and got
ready for what should be a great evening. One of my first
duties when I got back to the convention center was to find
out the identity of our mystery person. I asked Paul
Averwater, who was in charge of production, and he informed
me that was the actor, Stan Shaw, the son of Eddie Shaw.
So I went over and introduced myself got them to sign one of
my nineteen guitars I got signed in a two day period.  During
the pre-awards gathering I was fortunate to meet Steve
Cropper, who was there to back Shemika , along with a
bunch of other  artists and fans and people in the business.

About 8PM the awards banquet and show started  with great
entertainment. Everyone sits at a table that holds ten and
you never know who will end up at your table.  Enjoyed ribs
and chicken and great music. In between the awards we
enjoyed performances by Paul Oscher, Nick Moss and the
Flip Tops, Janiva Magness, Kim Wilson who joined Finis
Tasby, Elvin Bishop and Tommy Castro, Magic Slim  and the
Teardrops, Rod and Honey Piazza, tab Benoit, Shemika,
Mitch Kashmar, Hollywood Blue Flames, along with
everybody I mentioned that was at the sound check ..again
great stuff.  Then the post awards jam, artists that got
together..Nora Jean Bruso, Zac Harmon and Eddie Shaw
really tore it up with Elmore James classic, “It Hurts Me Too”.
Also got to enjoy Rich Del Grasso, Sister Monica, Jeff Stone,
Bob Margolin, EG Kight, Mac Arnold, Kim Wilson , Charles
Wilson, Eddie Turner,  along with others sitting in for one or
two songs.
The plug was pulled about 2:30 am… well it’s back to Tunica

Day 4.. Friday May 12th…
After going to bed about 4am, I’m headed back to Memphis
about 10:30…not moving quite as quickly as I was yesterday.
This is the day I do my shopping like getting my posters and  
making my yearly visits to the shops on Beale. I start it by
going to Issac Hayes’ Restaurant to pick up some of his
delicious BBQ sauce, the to Lansky’s at the Peabody to see
if they have a shirt I can’t live without.  I have gotten a shirt
there almost every year I come up.  Here is a shop that has
men’s clothing you will not find in this area,”Lansky’s Clother
to the King”, this is the gentleman that use to sell Elvis his
outfits.  Mr Lansky still works the store and is very active and
a very good salesperson . While he’s “taking” my money, he
tells me stories about Roscoe Gordon  and Rufus Thomas
two of his favorite  customers and friends. Got to have him on
my show one day.  If your ever on Beale, take a walk into all
the shops and especially”Tater Reds”, Red has a lot of
interesting memrobillia on the walls and ceiling.
About 1pm I decide to have lunch at one of my favorite
places, Rum Boogie Café, I had the Rufus Thomas Funky
Chicken sandwich. While eating I noticed that Inside Sounds,
a Memphis record company was having a showcase from 2-
6pm featuring their artists; Sandy Carroll, Dave Evans, Billy
Gibson and Daddy Mack, so I ordered another beer, and
made myself comfortable . Dave Evans, who does a
traditional solo act was first. Sandy and her band came into
to set up, we started talking and they joined me while Dave
was on stage.  Sandy is the wife of producer Jim Gaines,
whom I’ve had on my show several times. Jim has produced
everything Carlos Santana has done, SRV, Van Morrison,
John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Luther Allison. In fact go to
his website and check out the whos ‘ who. Sandy, like her
husband has a lot of stories, was very interesting.  She and
her band put on a great show, Sandy really enjoys what she
does and it reflects in her show. After her show along with a
couple of friends we stayed to build up our tab and enjoy the
afternoon.  About 7pm we decided to go next door the the
Kings Palace to see Ann Rabson and Rich Del Grasso and
also to eat.  Sandy who is an excellent keyboard player
wanted to see Ann, whom she’d never met.  In our talking,
Sandy thought her song Toolbox would be a great song for
Ann.  Ann loves doing the double entendre songs.  Had
some delicious gumbo along with hot wings, plus the great
set by Ann and Rich Del Grosso. About 9pm I decided it was
time to venture to the New Daisy Theatre to see..Kim Wilson,
Mitch Kashmar, Hollywood Blue Flames, Mannish Boys, and
Paul Oscher.  What an evening that turned out to be. Great
music until about 2am….time flies when you’re having fun. Had
to call Jim in Enterprise , just to let him hear what he was
missing. After they put the cap on they great show  I headed
back to the Rum Boogie where Bob Margolin was holding a
jam session til 3AM, again great music until they pulled the
plug, then it was back to Tunica…I was now tired.

Day 5… Saturday May 13th...
Believe it or not, I didn’t roll out of bed until 10am, just time
enough to  shower, dress, and pack for 11am checkout.
Went back to Helena to have lunch with Sonny, the hit the
road about 4pm for that 8 hour drive back…got enough new
music to listen to all the way to Dothan. Well, four days and
eight rolls of film later, I’m already looking forward to next May
to do it all over again….by the way you were conspicuous by
your absence…enjoy the pictures
Blues Music Awards 2006