I'm in Memphis!

Hi from Memphis, Tennessee! I'm currently sitting in my hotel room, a couple blocks off Beale, with both the mighty Mississippi river and the Orpheum theatre in view.

I don't even really know where to begin. Every moment since I left home has been sort of a dream. The flight from Edmonton to Chicago was awesome - I ended up sitting in the same row with my friend John Armstrong! I've never taken a plane, by coincidence, with someone I know, let alone in the same row haha! My flight from Chicago to Memphis was delayed; I think I was in the Chicago airport for 4 or 5 hours (which passed very fast!).. airports are never short of entertainment! When I arrived in Memphis, it was midnightish, and I had been travelling for 14 or 15 hrs. I had no idea how or where to get to my hotel... and there were no cabs coming by... so I approached a group of 3 people and asked them if they were sharing some sort of shuttle. Turns out - I was talking to the pilot, co-pilot, and stewardess from the plane and they gave me a lift in their personal shuttle!! I pretended I was with them, but when the driver realized that I wasn't going to the same hotel as them he ended up giving me a personal lift to where I was supposed to be.. so my first couple hours in Memphis I spent cruising the streets, in a free shuttle, at 1am with some extremely nice people. That was Monday.

Tuesday: strolling around. I went to the faaancy Peabody hotel to watch the famous duck walk. Apparently at 11am and 5pm EVERY day, these hilarious little ducks waddle from the fountain, down the red carpet, and into the elevator. There was a man with a baton stick talking about this historical tradition while it was going on but I wasn't really listening because I was too distracted by how funny the ducks were! After the ducks ascended, I went to the roof of the hotel with some folks and saw a great view of the town. Best part about the venture up though, was this ballroom (very Cinderella-esque!) on the top floor of the hotel where I spotted a grand piano sitting to the side... it's where I've been sneaking to warm up before my competition rounds. I got kicked out yesterday though.. so I had to find another piano (which I DID.. this lovely couple that come to the IBC every year invited me up to their hotel suite which has the same piano that "Layla" - Eric Clapton tune - was written on! crazy!). Anyways, on Tuesday night there was The International Showcase at The New Daisy Theatre which was super cool because it featured acts that have travelled to the IBC from around the whole world! Israel, The Philippines, Holland.. and it was an awesome place to meet other blues societies, musicians etc. Best part about Tuesday, though, was The Rum Boogie!!! Craziest bar! There's a staircase right in the middle of the bar that winds at least twice around before you get to where you're going. There was a late-night jam... which was SOOO fun. I definitely got my fair share of time up on stage.. I don't think I left the bar until 2:30 or 3 or something like that. No shortage of awesome players. Standing room only.. definitely over capacity.. looved it.

Wednesday/Thursday: Quarter Finals! In an earlier post, I believe I wrote that I'm excited to be here with 150 different acts.. I was wrong.. there are over 255 acts from around the world here!! The New Daisy was PACKED with musicians during orientation. We all found out on Wednesday where and when we're playing. I was set to play at a place called Silky O' Sullivans. They have two electric grand pianos sorta touching noses on a stage. I was surprised because I kinda figured I'd have more of a stage piano like a roland or something that I'd prop up in the middle of the stage like I usually do when I play.. but instead I had a 'grand' piano which had it's pros and cons. My back was to a big portion of the bar, and it's tough to engage in a position like that, but it sounded GREAT and the change-overs were really easy. There were some REALLY good musicians in my round. Very very very good - especially the piano players. For those reading that are unsure about the 'competition' part - all contestants go through two rounds in the quarter finals. We play the same venue twice and then the top 4 from each venue move into the semi-finals. We are judged on blues content, vocals, instrument talent, originality, and stage presence - with each part of the criteria weighing a different amount on the scoreboard. Anyways.. the shows themselves were SO fun!!!! SOO fun!! Like I said earlier, the bars have been PACCKKED! It was REALLY fun playing for a full receptive house that are there because they love music. The people I've been meeting all over have been so positive and excited... the energy is contagious and it doesn't stop! 

I found out last night that I'm moving to the next round!! I can hardly believe it. The musicianship here is outstanding. Every bar I go to I'm stoked because the level of playing/songwriting/performing is consistently REALLY good! I've heard soo much good music; I'm so inspired! The best part about the week, so far, is the comradery between all the musicians and folks attending. The Canadian blues societies have been super supportive of me (Liz Sykes from the Ottawa Blues Society put together a Canadian Showcase at The Kooky Canuck which.. again.. it was like a sardine tin can in there... or a moshpit.. elbow to elbow - thanks so much Liz, for having all the Canadians celebrate and play!) and the musicians I've met do NOT have the competitive/dog-eat-dog attitude what-so-ever. Everybody is celebrating music. GOOD music! It's really quite something. There is no shortage of positive energy flowing from bar to bar or people to people.

Anyways.. I was up at a scary early time this morning to play on Ditty TV after hanging at some jams again last night. I'll post the live show when i get my hands on it. THANK YOU Ditty TV for having me!! You guys are a REALLY generous crew with a gorgeous stage. I'm so grateful.

I'm gonna try and nap before I get up for the next round. It's gonna be hard 'cause I'm buzzing hard after some serious espresso. Everything about this week so far has been crazy. It's got to be the most fun I've ever had.

EEE!
More lata.
Love, love, love
JT

p.s. I forgot to mention that BOOGIE PATROL (also representing Edmonton, AB, CA) are moving on to the semi-finals! I'm soo happy for my good friends! Puttin' Edmo on the map! :) :) AND.. Tim Williams from Calgary as well as a couple other Canadian acts are moving forward. Canadian invasion?

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