After our second night sleeping in the car and not showering, Eric and I found ourselves in Tupelo, MS (which claims to be Elvis Presley’s birthplace! Although a local told me that that is, in fact, incorrect: he was born about 30 miles away, but the tourism was good for the town).
We decided that we were going to find ourselves a shower somewhere in this town. After no luck at the community college looking for a gym and then no luck at a Babtist church, we finally hit the jackpot with a large United Methodist church that had an extremly friendly and helpful church secretary and some amazing gym showers. It’s such an incredible feeling to be able to wash dirt and grim from your body when you don’t have a hot shower regularly at your fingertips. I don’t think I can ever take a hot shower for granted again. United Methodist churches have certaintly treated us well on this tour.
Our church secretary then directed us to the nearest laundromat, where we could get some clean, fresh clothes to put onto our clean, fresh bodies. While we waited for our laundry I scrubbed down the inside surfaces of the car (that’s our home! And being clean and fresh is no good if we’re going to be hanging out in a dirty home.) and Eric headed across the street to check out a little book shop.
He returned with news of an amazing little place and a new friend. The guy working the bookshop (Michael) was a band manager himself and was extremly welcoming and happy to allow us to rest in the bookshop’s big comfy chairs and get some much-needed internet work done. He asked us all about Pocket Vinyl and our touring stories,and gave us lots of advice about the area and his own experiences in a band. Tupelo turned out to be an extremly welcoming and hospitable little southern town.
In the late afternoon we finally left Tupelo and headed to Memphis, TN for our Pocket Vinyl show that evening at a little bar called Kudzu’s. (We passed right by Elvis’s recording studio on our way! So surreal.) It being a Monday night the bar seemed pretty dead, except for the bartender, Johnny, and a Monday night regular. However, our refreshing day experiencing so much kindness had us both in such a great mood, we already knew this night was going to be good. Johnny made us some delicious vegetarian meals and got us some local brews on the house, and we spent a couple hours just talking with him and the other few people who gathered at the bar, about Memphis and Elvis and Pocket Vinyl. It was great!
More people trickled in right before we were about to start, including an 82 year old gentleman (and two other guys with him) that Johnny enthusiastically greeted as “Dr Green”. After he was seated at a table near the stage Johnny and the Monday regular at the bar next to us informed us that Dr Herman Green was a jazz saxophonist, who at one point had held the record for having played on more gold records than anyone else, ever! He’d played with BB King, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash… And later that week he’d be playing with Jane’s Addiction. We were in the presence of a music legend! It was just a little intimidating.
Well, we got up on stage for our Pocket Vinyl show, and people responded really well. (Again, it was a Monday night. We went into the show not expecting much at all. Mondays aren’t exactly known as the best nights for shows. And even better, Dr Green loved it. He kept stopping us inbetween songs to let us know, and to start up conversations about touring life, and to pass around a tip jar to make sure that everyone else in the bar was helping us out. He was awesome!
After our set he demanded that we sit with him and he buy us a beer. He had one of those “I’m old, I’ve lived a long life, now I can be demanding and speak my mind!” type attitudes; that I cold not help cracking up at. He kept yelling at Eric for talking too much, and making jokes we could barely understand but he thought were absolutely hilarious. His two friends (which we found out were two guys in his band) were constantly translating for us.
His wife had passed away just a few years ago, and she’d been musical as well. He told me a story about how Atlanic records had aproached her to get her to sign to their lable, but when they said that they only wanted her and not her husband, she turned them down. Dr Green told me over and over again to never allow anything to come between Eric and I. He told me that he felt God around us and around our relationship, and assured me that He was blessing us.
When Eric went to close out the painting bid I picked up the video camera to record him. Halfway through Eric’s announcement Dr Green started yelling that he was doing it all wrong and grabbed the notebook from Eric’s hands and started yelling that somebody better bid higher, or else! I can not believe I recorded the entire thing! Hopefully you’ll see that on our next Pockumentary. Johnny ended up winning the bid on the painting.
We hung out with Dr Green a while longer, and at one point he asked Eric if he could do a little improv jazz on Eric’s piano. He also instructed me to pull out a piece of paper and draw whatever came to mind while he played. It was pretty awesome to watch this musical legend playing softly away at Eric’s spot on stage.
Dr Green did a cd swap with us and demanded at we autograph our cd for him (I feel like I found everything he said and did amusing) and take a photo with him and his bandmates.
What a ridiculous yet awesome day. After packing up and saying goodbye to everyone Johnny handed us a veggie sandwich to-go (he was so awesome) and we headed out into the dark to find another spot along the highway to sleep. But clean and full and so happy.