Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tennessee Road Trip, Pt. V
I woke on Mike's couch, patted his dogs and went to shower myself. Then I quietly repacked my stuff in the van, now featuring a thin film of dog hair, and hit the road again.
Full tank of gas and I was searching for a Cracker Barrel down the road, but I kept passing them by. In mind was a stop at the Loveless Cafe which I didn't expect to find. There to my wondering eyes appeared a sign with the Loveless as the food source at this exit, so I took it. Four and a half miles off I-40 at the start of the Natchez Trace, the Loveless is renowned for its secret biscuit recipe and country breakfasts. On the weekends, which is when we inevitably would come through with the dB's, there is a long line to get in. Today, however, I was seated immediately; my memories of a heroic meal there on an ancient morning was confirmed as not just consigned to history. I bought some preserves at the store, and began heading toward Memphis.
I lived in the city for several months in 1978, before I moved to New York to join the dB's. They were not easy months. I worked at an unairconditioned t-shirt printery across the road from Crown Electric (for you Elvis completists); and I spent a lot of time in the public library to beat the heat and to keep up with the doings of Chris and friends via ads in the Village Voice. While I lived here, I recorded at Sam Philips Studio on Madison Avenue with Richard Rosebrough, staff engineer and drummer. Richard was about the only person I met that took me seriously, and we cut a bunch of songs that ended up as demos for the first dB's album. The police and fire departments went on strike at the same time toward the end of my sojourn here, which meant National Guard armed troops on the corners of downtown roofs and a sunset curfew. It was actually an eventful couple of months in Memphis, but I was ready to head to New York.
When I got here today, I killed a little time in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore out East. It was a B&N without any music or DVDs, a bookstore that only sold books, how about that?
My host family is that of Robert Mache who live in a beautiful home that Robert has done a lot of renovation work on since they moved here after Katrina. Robert played lead guitar in the Continental Drifters, and he's stayed musically active here in the Bluff City; but he also commutes for gigs back in NOLA when he gets called, it's just downriver after all. The Maches have a nice apartment upstairs which they offered to Chris and me for the duration of the Folk Alliance shebang.
After Candace cooked a delicious vegetarian dinner, I headed over to Ilene Markell's nearby home to rehearse songs with her. Ilene played bass with Chris and me on the Mavericks record, and she also toured with us to support that record. She is the finest, most soulful and intuitive bass player I've ever gotten to work with, so it was great that she wanted to do these gigs with us. Ilene had obviously done her homework, and the songs, new and old, sounded just fine. It's nice to have a bass player who has that unerring sense of rhythm, especially when it's one of only three instruments up there.
I hung out for a little while after we finished rehearsing with Ilene and her husband Ben, and then I trundled back to my garret at the Maches for sleep.