“Poclock is when the show starts,” the message read. I spent some time trying to decode this. Was he pulling my leg? Was this a reference to something? Was I thinking too much into this? I got so wrapped up in those few seconds trying to figure out his meaning that I completely missed who he said he was opening for. I’m not sure at what point we agreed on this next plan, but Eddie stated he wanted to get together on Sunday to do some finishing work on a 5 track EP we’d been working on for the last few months.
A day or so later, I received another message online, this one from Southland Music Line’s Johnny Cole. He said he and longtime photographer and friend, Stephen Anderson, were heading to Louisiana that Saturday night to a joint I had never heard before to see some rootsy blues music in the form of The Jericho Road Show. He asked if I would like to join in on the travels to which I enthusiastically agreed. I had never heard The Jericho Road Show in action, but a reputation had been established in my mind from previous discussions I’d had with Johnny and Andy. I was most certainly ready to hear them out. Still better yet, we would go on to discuss making a stop at the Irish Coast Pub again that Saturday night around midnight to catch the end of Rosco Bandana who was set to play with Moonhawk.
Between Eddie’s set Friday, our travels for Saturday night, and the recording work on Sunday afternoon, my weekend was pleasantly packed for an array of musical endeavors. I was still jazzed from my first ever trip to the Delta, where I explored the Cleveland area around Delta State University, looking for blues music, photography and good food. What better way to chronicle this coming weekend’s activities than with another photography blog.
I took some time mid-week to look over some of the most recent posts at The Southland Music Line to see what my comrades in journalistic affairs had been up to since we last spoke. Some of the articles I read included groups Delta Reign, Rosco Bandana, and a man labeled a “blues traditionalist” named Wes Lee (see article link below). This is the article that most caught my attention, as I am always looking for local musicians in tuned with the more fundamental elements of this genre. I made a mental note to inquire about these readings with Johnny later that weekend.
Friday night. I sling my camera over my shoulder and head down the road listening to SOAD’s double album which I had just discovered had been sitting on my external hard drive instead of in my music library. For shame. At the show, I sit at the currently uncrowded bar, order a beer, and make small talk with Ben Kaufmen. I don’t believe I’ve been to the Irish Coast Pub in almost two months, since I last played with the guys at the weekly Monday night jam.
I ask Ben who the headliner is for tonight.
“Wes Lee,” he replies. I am both surprised and tickled. It is funny how quickly the universe will bring such occurrences to your door without your knowing.
Eddie arrives and we tote his equipment and artwork to the front of the building. I’m tasked with taping up a display board and arranging an assortment of pictures and albums. The music begins and I hover about getting some shots and speaking to familiar faces here and there. About half way through the set, I am standing in the back where the music and scope of the bar is optimal. I see Wes Lee come around to the bar’s end. I introduce myself and we spark up a conversation about blues music. It takes me very little time to deduce Wes’s connection to one of the oldest forms of American music. It was a discussion worthy of a podcast, which lead us to look into future possibilities in the fall for a dedicated recording. I will post more details on this as it develops.
I turned to Wes Lee. “Isn’t that the place you said earlier?”
“Maybe,” he returned with a grin.
On top of all this, Wes Lee smiles from the stage as he sets up his equipment for the night’s performance in The Jericho Road Show.
“You did say Birdie’s Roadhouse didn’t you?” I asked in jest.
“Yeah, I guess I did.”
While the band prepared, we decided to step into the back room, just passed the narrow bar, to a small dining area where food from the back kitchen was served. Fried green tomatoes topped with gulf shrimp and house sauce appeared to be the top seller, but I had my eye on the baked potato soup with cracker toast (a term I made up) and fruit on the side (a pineapple slice with cherries on top). I placed my order in with Mrs. Sandy, the daughter of the original Birdie. She proclaimed the soup was indeed worth the order and sold me with its description. Within minutes, we were dinning in the main room next to the stage and all very happy about it.
She pointed to the two separate walls covered with photography. “That’s the wall of fame and the other one is the wall of shame,” she stated with a laugh. The famed wall was the one consisting of all the musicians, many of which had performed at Birdie’s themselves. A large picture of Buddy Guy in particular caught my attention. My mind went back to the girl in purple on the opposite wall. Now talking to Birdie face-to-face, I realized it could only be her. I pointed to the picture and asked if it was her. She confirmed my assumption. “You’re on the wall of shame?” I asked jokingly. “What’s up with that?”
As we talked, a crowd seemed to develop out of nowhere. Suddenly, the small house seemed even smaller as the narrow walkway between the wall and the bar became swamped with patrons, some sitting, others standing. I was told later that this was a golf group of some kind, all piling in from the day’s outdoor activities. From my view point, I could see my seat up near the front by Johnny was being eyed by newcomers, my equipment still resting on the table. I decided it was time to make my way back. Though it was only ten feet away, it took me almost a minute to get there. Seated comfortably again, I watched the remainder of the set before the group took another break. Our trio decided to move along to catch the Rosco Bandana midnight showing at the Irish Coast Pub. It was already past eleven, so we would only be able to catch the last few minutes with any luck. We all collected together to talk for a time before saying our farewells and departing. Johnny, Andy, and I made our way back to the bar register to square away or tabs. Me being last, I thanked Mrs. Sandy for the soup recommendation and the chance to experience such an interesting place. I told her I looked forward to coming back someday and Mrs. Sandy, sweetheart that she was, kissed me on the cheek, gave a warm hug and bid me safe travels.
Meanwhile, in Ocean Springs, the second annual “Feed the Need Fish Fry” was taking place at the Government Street Grocery, featuring music by Grayson Capps and Corky Hughes, Cary Hudson, Blackwater Brass, Jason Sanford and Jackson Weldon, and Paul Kirkland. This was an all-day charity event to raise money for local soup kitchens in the area. Johnny Cole reported Feed the Need as success, with a strong turnout and solid performances by all artists present. Hopefully, the event will see continued success in the years to come and be afforded the chance to help more of those in need. Will definitely try to make it out next year!
This concludes my Weekend Music Roundup for July 31. I have a lot of gratitude to give for my activities these last few days. Thanks to Johnny Cole and Stephen Anderson for including me in the trip to Birdies. Thanks to Birdies for keeping great music alive and being such a nice group of people to hang with.
Thanks to Wes Lee for talking blues with me and performing, along with Libby Raw Watson and Rambling Steve Gardner, who also deserve praise for preserving blues heritage. Special thanks to my pal Eddie Dixon, who is as talented as a musician as he is a producer, and has always made our work together enjoyable and fun. Most importantly, he is a hell of a good friend. Lastly, thanks to everyone who helped out or performed at the Feed the Need event. Although I was not present at the time, I commend the positive actions that undoubtedly lead to a great deal of good being produced.
A new podcast is coming soon. In fact, plans are being worked out for a recording this weekend of August 7th. In the meantime, feel free to give CNP #50 with Will Lammons a listen if you haven’t already. It was a great recording and made for the perfect two year anniversary of The Coastal Noise Podcast. If you enjoyed this article, consider checking out my first delta trip photography blog. Please support the show by giving a like or sharing with others. If you have a travel suggestion for me, I’m always looking for somewhere else to take pictures and write about. The tracks me and Eddie have been working on will most likely be posted in the music page soon. Its almost time to get rid of those old, raw home recordings that have been hanging around for a year now. Feedback of these would be hugely appreciated, and if we get some shows rolling in the near future, we would love to have you. To stay up to date on all things new at Coastal Noise, be sure to follow along with me or the website on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. Until next time.
The Southland Music Line
Wes Lee: A True Disciple of the Blues – A Homecoming to a Listening Crowd