Friday night I headed down to Melrose to see the Melrose and Kirby game, but I discovered when I got there that Kirby High School had not brought their band to the game, and since I had already seen Melrose this year, I headed on to Crump Stadium to see the Central/Whitehaven game. Both of these schools have relatively large bands this year, and both were in full battle mode all night. Central’s band is known as the Sound of Midtown, and is a young program that seems to be on the right track. Whitehaven, known as the Sounds of Perfection, is an incredibly-large high school band that could easily rival many colleges, and is one of the best high-school bands in the country. Unfortunately, perhaps because of the tense, close football game, there was no “fifth quarter” afterwards, with Whitehaven’s band leaving the stadium immediately after time had run out.
Last night, September 12, 2013, Memphis’ Young Avenue Sound recording studio was the setting for a clandestine listening party for Maybach Music Group‘s new Self Made 3 album featuring French Montana, Meek Mill, Omarion, Rick Ross, Yo Gotti and more. Despite a rumor that Rick Ross would be present, he didn’t appear, but a lot of other celebrities did, including Hot 107‘s DJ Q, Memphis rap artist Skool Boy, Select-O-Hits’ DJ Bay, Maybach artist Whole Slab AKA Slab McNab AKA Deuce Poppi, Memphis rapper Urban Jones and CEO Miami Mike. In addition there were lots of models, plenty of Belaire Rose to drink, and plenty of wings from Wing Stop.
On Wednesday September 11th, the September edition of The Music Exchange/Memphis Record Pool took place at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street, bringing out an all-star crowd of Memphis’ best DJ’s and artists, including DJ 007, Gangsta Blac, Miscellaneous, Snootie Wild, Chiccen, Urban Jones and DJ Bay of Select-O-Hits. The restaurant was filled to overflowing, and was literally standing room only.
Memphis’ annual Juneteenth celebration is held in Douglass Park in North Memphis, and generally runs from Friday to Sunday. The event offers food, dance and music performances, climbing and bouncing opportunities for kids, basketball, family fun, and of course political campaigning.
On a Thursday evening after work, I drove down to Oxford, Mississippi to eat dinner and shop at my favorite bookstore, Square Books, and then I noticed that a new frozen yogurt place had opened directly on the square called YaYa’s Frozen Yogurt. I decided to try it before heading back to Memphis, and I found it was really good.
Grambling State University and the University of Louisiana at Monroe have only played football against each other since 2007, and have only met three times, despite the fact that the schools are only 30 miles apart. Such were the legacies of college segregation, but when the Tigers and Warhawks started scheduling each other, the event became known as the I-20 Classic, since that interstate connects the two campuses (as well as a third, Louisiana Tech, for that matter). Grambling hasn’t fared well in any of their meetings with ULM, but I decided to drive down to Monroe for the day to attend the game, hear the bands (particularly Grambling’s), and the check out the tailgating and festivities. Although the weather was somewhat hot, it was a perfectly beautiful evening for football, and there was a huge crowd of people tailgating and partying outside the stadium, which is directly beside Bayou DeSiard. Unfortunately, Grambling’s team has been struggling this year, and they lost the game 48-7, and there was very little band activity and no Fifth Quarter. Grambling’s Chocolate Thunder drumline played a couple of cadences in the stands, and the full band played an abbreviated halftime show, and a couple of tunes in the stands, and that was all. 100.1 The Beat was advertising all kinds of “official” after-parties after the game, one at Club Encore, one at the Members’ Club, one at Club Siroc, and an old-school set with a band at the Monroe Civic Center. I would have liked to have gone to any or all of them, but as the drive back to Memphis was going to take five hours, I grabbed a frozen yogurt from Orange Leaf and hit the road.
One of the beauties of Monroe, Louisiana is the abundance of water. Downtown sits on the Ouachita River, and the north and east are along Bayou DeSiard, so lovely waterfront views are everywhere, and several restaurants in the city take advantage of that, including the Waterfront Grill, built on the shore of Bayou DeSiard near the campus of the University of Louisiana at Monroe. For over 20 years, the Waterfront Grill has been treating Monroyans to gorgeous sunsets and some of the best food in Louisiana, from seafood of all kinds to filet mignon, to casual sandwiches and burgers. True perfection in restaurants is rare. Sometimes good food is marred by indifferent service, or an attractive setting is ruined by mediocre food or high prices, but the Waterfront Grill offers consistently good food, with impeccable service in a lovely setting at prices that might not be cheap, but are reasonable. And in 19 visits or so over as many years, I have never once had a disappointment. Few restaurants can meet that standard.
5201 DeSiard Street
Monroe, LA 71203
The main street of downtown West Monroe, Louisiana is known as Trenton Street after the town’s original name before it was renamed West Monroe. The street is also known as “Antique Alley” because of the large number of antique malls, specialty stores and gift shops that line it. On Saturdays, the street is alive with activity.
Finding espresso and cappuccino has never been easy in the Mississippi Delta, but it is getting easier thanks to the opening of new coffee bars like Crave Bistro in Cleveland, Mississippi. As the name suggests, Crave is not only a coffee bar, but also a full restaurant open for breakfasts and lunches, and it also features a selection of sweets and desserts, including cupcakes. I tried a chocolate one, and found it irresistibly delicious, if a little messy (eating them in your car is NOT advised). Crave closes at 5 PM, so get there early!
On Friday September 6, I was asked to drive out to the Brownsville to be a judge for a showcase of young artists sponsored by Memphis independent label Yae Muzik. The event was held at a club called Rhythms, located on Highway 54 a few miles west of Brownsville, and featured performances from some up-and-coming rap artists like Trey Stax and Pistol Paco