When asked what he thought of Memphis, some American guy I met in Nashville said “It’s a shit hole. You’ll love it.” So we shook off our hangover and left the state capital, once more headed west, this time to Memphis. Compared to out previous drives, we only had a short distance ahead, but during our journey we reached our 1000 mile mark!
Memphis is sketchy. Not on Beale St where all the tourists are, but where we were staying on South Pauline St it definitely was. Basically another block down was one of the many hoods in a city known to have a higher crime rate than LA (so we were told). Once checked in to out Motel, we emailed Rob who we had met in Nashville. He told us to come quick to meet him in the Flying Saucer Bar near Beale St as he had a pre organised lift picking him up at 9. As it was already 8 we rushed to meet him and, being the bad influences we are, we talked him round to cancel his lift to stay out and get drunk. So he approached two guys standing at the bar and asked to borrow their phone to call up his lift. This is how we met Ian and Jason, two guys from New York and New Jersey who were travelling to Dallas to set Jason up at his new job there in Texas. It turns out that Ian, who was helping his buddy out with the move, WAS A DOCTOR OF BEER who had studied in the states, England and Europe. This, clearly, was a sign from the gods. So once Rob’s lift had been cancelled we all grabbed the end seats on a long table of socially awkward and definitely conservative Rhode Island college students who we annoyed profusely until their whole party of about 20 relocated to the other side of the room accompanied by a few loud choruses of ‘On The Rhodes To Nowhere’.
We then managed to befriended two barmaids who got off work and came around town with us. The 7 of us ended up in some dark blue lit bar talking to… A variety of people. One of which was an. Excitable guy named Paco who was trying to get out of Memphis, but first needed to study so he could get a job and move away. He took a liking to Laurence and I and bought us drinks so I took our picture which he wanted me to email to him which I did the next day.
Three other people we met included a sassy barmaid and two very stupid Army privates who couldn’t believe neither of us were religious. When I asked what religion he considered himself to be apart of however, he replied “Killing People. I believe in killing people for the government and not asking questions.” … Which wasn’t a real answer. Because killing people isn’t a religion. I’m pretty sure it’s not. After this they got a bit weirder by sternly suggesting we should leave the bar so they could talk to the bar maids. Mustering up the best of our drunken linguistic and persuasive skills, within a couple minutes they were buying us drinks. After shots we gave the army guys the slip, parted ways with the barmaids who had work in the morning and headed to Denny’s for some late night food. On our way there, a drunk who’s name I can’t remember appeared in our ranks. He’d been trying to get sober for the past month and didn’t ask anything of us so we all fell in ordering food and coffee.
After a lot of joking around and an unnoticed silence from Ian, the beer expert, he struck up a dislike to the drunk’s motives for sitting with us, to which we all exclaimed in the drunk’s defence. He then became frustrated with why he was even in Memphis on this road trip with Jason and with discord in the ranks we all decided we should call it a night and parted ways with promises of keeping in touch. On our stagger home through the shady construction areas and neighbourhoods, Rob, Laurence and I past Sun Studios where the likes of Elvis and, more importantly, Johnny Cash had recorded many years ago.
Once back at our motel, Rob called a cab to return to his accommodation and we went back to our crummy room with cigarette burn holes inn our sheets to sleep just as the sun was ushering in our second day in Memphis.
I can’t help but feel that night in Memphis was very Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise… So tooottttalllly post-beat if you ask me *scoff-scoff*.
Our first morning in Nashville was where we met Rob, a Londoner, and Sebastian from Germany. They were sharing our hostel room Downtown and invited us to watch the Titans verses the Chargers NFL game. So off we went, although we were confused as to what the hell was going on during the game and couldn’t believe how many times the game stopped and started, one thing could definitely be said to be true; for an average Sunday game, NFL has the most grand and over the top pre game rituals. With an American flag the size of the pitch, cheerleaders, celebrated army personel, fireworks, formation helicopters, celebrity bands and a guest singer the round it all off with the national anthem accompanied by more fireworks, it certainly was… Mental.
Afterwards, Laurence, Rob and I went for many many drinks and ended up in a place called The Stage, a country music venue (which is, essentially, what every building in Nashville tends to be) singing along with the cowboys and failed country music stars.
We found out that night that Rob was heading west to Memphis the next day like us so we offered him a seat in our car. He declined having already bought a 5am coach there but told us to email him once we were there and we’d meet up for a drink.
The next morning, after waking up late and unable to find a pancake house or breakfast bar, we made the decision to eat ‘The Best Burger Ever’. A meal that tied me over until -no joke- 4pm the next day…
The next day we woke up in Charleston, WV where we’d decided to spend the night listening to the southern locals arguing about who gives the least amount of f**ks. Which was definitely hilarious.
These buildings are bloody old so predate the prohibition era hence you can see bars on the windows so as to stop drunken reprobates, such as Laurence and I, from breaking in and attempting to steal the booze, however in our case we’d probably get too drunk and pass out and get caught.
As the tour concluded we held an experiment to see how many complimentary shots of their bourbon we could drink before getting thrown out. Turns out it was only 2. This was probably for the best as we were then continuing our drive through Southern Kentucky 200 miles and into Tennessee and arriving at one of America’s music capitals, Nashville.
Yesterday we picked up the car we’re gonna be driving across the states in. It’s a mean mutha. We crossed three states one of which, Virginia, boasts an amazing scenic road called Skyline Drive, which is literally at cloud level with most of it around the 2500ft level.
Last night in DC meant studio time set up by Chauncy at Wonka Beats’ studio with Tokyo Daimo. After hanging around the Wendy’s opposite the studio trying not to get shot for a while, Laurence and I went to a coffee shop over the road where we we’re met by Chauncy. He was glad to see us as he didn’t find us in front of Wendy’s where we organised to meet and said ‘Shit I was worried, I though they gotchu man! I thought you’d got shot already!’ … Whiiiiiiich was reassuring.
Then music happeneddddd.
After this I gotta a slice of pizza the size of the shop that sold it to me and tried to feed it to this other guy staying in our hostel. He didn’t want any though. Maybe because I wasn’t paying attention when I was putting herbs on it and covered it in Oregano n shit.
~ J Sneezy
With our second day ahead we decided to do some totally brill sight seeing. So we set off down the National Mall where the WW2, Vietnam, Korean War, Lincoln and Dr. King monuments are. THEN I GOT CALLED ‘SIR’ BY SOME 14 YEAR OLD GIRL WHO ASKED TO TAKE A PICTURE OF US WHICH MADE ME FEEL LIKE 30 YEARS OLD. We then got a call from our buddy Chauncy who lives in DC who offered to take us for some wings round his ends in Bowie. Apparently ‘Moon Dust’ is a legit flavour of chicken wing seasoning…
Our first night in DC saw us in the Adams Morgan area of north west Washington. This area immediately reminded us of Stokes Croft.. If the pavements were clean… aaaand didn’t have crusty blokes falling on you to see if you’d lend em a quid for another bottle of white ace. Which, to be fair, is half the fun of the place. Quite literally on our doorstep we ate some great food (Philly cheese steak sandwich and patty melt) and went over the road to Mellow Mushroom for a few local ales, craft beers and bourbons. There we met bartender Rex and a guy called John that sat at the bar with us who said, “If you guys like music man, you gadda check out Madam’s on the other side of the street.” So we then moved to the little joint across the road for a brilliant roots and blues evening. Discounting the great band, the best thing about this place was definitely the goat with the big balls. As pictured above. Laurence went to sleep and I wondered around for a bit talking to people and trying to find somewhere that would sell me a tinnie..
This morning at 7am I awoke to this.
We are on the eve of our totally brill American road trip. Only hours remain until our departure and with a noble gesture of generosity, Brful, the handsome gentleman pictured above who’s shop we frequent ever so often (and usually with questionable sobriety) to purchase our weekly tipple, offered us a 4 pack of tinnies each as a parting gift in exchange for our word to return and remain his loyal customers..
4 hours to go…