Last week, I went to Memphis with ten other teachers for a conference. The conference was all day Wednesday.  We arrived Tuesday evening.  We weren’t about to waste a night in Memphis.  So we headed to Beale Street to find a place for dinner and check out some music. 

When it came to dinner, I voted for Rendezvous – the famous Memphis barbecue place, but I was outvoted in favor of the Blues City Cafe.  Not wonderful food, but certainly okay.  They had an apple dumpling to die for!  I’m on the look-out for some tiny cast iron skillets so I can copy that dish.

They had a band singing in the bar – the lead singer sang Johnny Cash songs and sounded just like Johnny Cash, BUT he looked like Jerry Springer.  It was quite a combination.   He was good – great sound and he rocked out on some of my favorite Johnny Cash songs.  There was a rowdy crowd in the front with a lot of cheering and hooting and hollering.

After the first set, the lead singer passed our table and one of the other teachers – I’ll call her Edna – asked if he could sing an Eric Clapton song – any Eric Clapton song.  She LOVES Eric Clapton.  The singer was a good sport and said he could and would.  During the break Edna talked to me about how much she loves Eric Clapton and how she hoped, hoped, HOPED that the guy would choose “Wonderful Tonight” to sing.

Minutes into his second set the lead singer pointed Edna out to everyone and said the next song was dedicated to her.  They chitchatted briefly.  Everyone cheered for Edna and she waved to everyone.  Our little table of ten was suddenly the center of attention.  I should note that Edna is a grandmother – the oldest of the teachers there – she has already retired from teaching once, and then came back.  She has gray/white hair and a very grandmotherly sweet face.  When the singer began singing “Wonderful Tonight.”  Edna put her hand to her heart – it was perfect!  Her eyes glistened with tears at the tender words.

About that time a male patron came over to our table and pulled Edna out on the dance floor.  She wasn’t unwilling.  It was a gentlemanly gesture since she was so obviously thrilled about the song.  Other couples started dancing, too. 

However, once “Wonderful Tonight” was over, the band started a foot-stomping song and things got a little wild when an elderly cowboy decided he wanted to dance with a teacher, too.  Big cowboy hat, bowlegs and insistent attitude.  He went from one of us to the other asking us to dance.  We had watched him dance before – and it looked more like manhandling than dancing.  His version of dancing was to whirl his dance partner this way and that way with double-handed turns and reverses.   He was a showoff who made his dance partner look like a contortionist.  We all declined his less-than-subtle invitations. 

However, apparently his pride was on the line, and he was not going to take no for an answer.  He finally managed to literally drag another teacher to the dance floor where he proceeded to twirl her around unmercifully.  As soon as the song was over and she was back at the table, we made our exit.

It was amazing how many families with children were walking Beale Street late on a Tuesday evening.  Music was coming from various clubs as we walked by. 

The next day we were doubly happy that we had partied a little the night before because the conference was “good” but not fantastic.

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8 Responses to “Walking in Memphis – He sounded like Johnny Cash, looked like Jerry Springer, and sang Eric Clapton”

  1. patty Says:

    That sounds like a wonderful evening. Its times like that that get ya through rougher times.

  2. Ruth Says:

    Sure enjoyed reading about your visit to Memphis. Your post are always great reading.

  3. Mushy Says:

    Although don’t do it as much as we used to, my wife and I used to go out every weekend night, and to start things off I would fix her a drink, turn on “Wonderful Tonight”, and take it to the bathroom where she was preparing for the evening. It was our special time.

    We did Elvis, but not Beale, so we’ll have to go back before it’s too late to party.

  4. Christie Says:

    Wow, that sounds like fun. Sounds like Edna had a great night!

  5. Sam Says:

    Who cares if the conference was boring, it’s the night out that counts. Sounds like you girls had a fun.

  6. Jessie Says:

    Oh, I love Johnny Cash! But ewww to think of the Man in Black looking like Jerry Springer. Well, just close your eyes and listen so the look doesn’t ruin it.

  7. Jane Says:

    Sounds like fun but I’m with you….I would have wanted to go to the BBQ joint!! But Edna had a night to remember.

  8. The Education Wonks: December 2006 - Thoughts And Ideas Freely Exchanged Says:

    Kramer auto Pingback[…] trips are forgettable? Next week’s midway host The Median Sib went down to Memphis and had an unforgettable experience. Key vocabulary needed: Johnny Cash, Jerry Springer, Eric Clapton, and… […]

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