Irie Vibes at Handy Park with The Chinese Connection Dub Embassy

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There’s not a great deal of reggae activity in Memphis (perhaps because our city has very few Caribbean residents), but we do have one really good reggae and dub band known as the Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, so when I saw that they were playing on the outdoor stage at Handy Park downtown on August 15th, I called my homeboy Otis Logan and he and I went down to check them out. Early in their show, they provided the backing for former American Idol participant Lil Rounds and for the rapper C Beyohn, but it was on their own set of songs that I was most impressed. After an original opening, they launched into a reading of the Dramatics classic “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get’, followed by a ska classic instrumental known as “Rockfort Rock”, and finally with the timely political original “Tyrant”, which the lead singer skillfully connected to the recent police shooting of Michael Brown and the militarized police response to peaceful protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite that somewhat grim reminder, the vibe of the evening was good times and good fun.

Bike Night on Beale Street

Although the Jus Blues Music Awards was supposed to kick off with an opening reception last night at the East Memphis Hilton, I never could find it, so I stopped by Muddy’s Bake Shop for a chocolate peanut-butter cupcake, and then headed down to Beale Street, where they were having Bike Night because it was Wednesday. There was a band on stage in Handy Park which I had not seen there before, and I noticed that the little bar on the corner of Beale and Rufus Thomas (Hernando) has been renamed Club Handy.

A Friday Evening on Beale Street

Despite the commercialism, Beale Street can still be somewhat fun, particularly during the summer. There’s usually live music and barbecue in Handy Park, and street performers on the two blocks of the entertainment district.

Deep Blues on Beale

It’s ironically hard to hear to authentic blues on Beale Street, the alleged “street where blues was born”, but it’s not impossible, at least on certain days. This afternoon found some traditional bluesmen out on the street, and the usual band playing in Handy Park despite the chill in the air.