The Saturday of A3C was a little different this year, and somewhat more difficult, in that Georgia Tech was having a football game at their stadium, which was just across I-75/85 from the conference hotel, so parking was extremely expensive if you could even find any. I finally found parking at Emory Hospital (and they hadn’t raised the rates for the game, I suppose out of concern for visitors and families), so I was able to make my way to the hotel for the day’s activities. But no sooner was I up in the 25th floor lounge than it started raining, and not just a little bit, but heavy downpours. We could see people leaving the stadium in droves from across the way, and I feared that the outdoor showcases would be cancelled as well, but after an hour or so, the rain ended, and I caught the shuttle out to the A3C Main Stage on Edgewood Avenue.
When I got to the Intercontinental Hotel, the Cutting Edged NOLA Keynote Speech was going on, followed by a legal panel about sports and entertainment law. At the end of that, I headed out to the lakefront and ate dinner at Landry’s Seafood House. Even though Landry’s is a chain, it is the restaurant nearest to Lake Pontchartrain and has the best view of the lake, and the food was very good, at least on this particular day.
Bryan Fenkart, the amazing singer who plays the character of Huey in the Broadway musical Memphis, which has been playing at the Orpheum, dropped by the Chisca Hotel kickoff party Friday 4/26/13
But the emergence of a new owner for the building, Chisca Redevelopment Partners also led to a new vision, that of turning the hotel into a downtown condominium. On Friday, April 26th, work began on the project, and a kickoff party was held in the Chisca garage under the motor hotel addition. While there weren’t any bands, Bryan Fenkart the lead in the touring Broadway musical Memphis which has been playing nearby at the Orpheum came by to sing the very-appropriate song “Memphis Is In My Heart”, and Grizz, the mascot from the Memphis Grizzlies was on hand to lend his support. Despite the rain that poured down during the brief announcement, there was a feeling of optimism in the air. The plans really do look pretty, and if there’s one thing Memphis needs more of, it’s optimism.
Akina Adderley is a neo-soul singer, and her Vintage Playboy band is a truly large ensemble with a large brass section. Her selections feature jazzy horn parts, and the overall sound of her group is one that would please jazz fans and soul fans alike.
Even after we got back to the Capitol Hilton, we were in for a long wait, as our bus driver could not find a way through the parade roadblocks to the side of the city where we were waiting. The Congressional Black Caucus was having an inaugural ball at the hotel where we were waiting, and I caught a brief glimpse of the old-school rapper Doug E. Fresh in the lobby. Our bus finally arrived about 9 PM, and we got back to the hotel in Maryland with just a brief window of time to get to the Outback Steakhouse for dinner.
The Convention Center Courtyard by Marriott in New Orleans is in a converted warehouse and features split-level rooms. (at Courtyard By Marriott)
I had been invited to be a panelist at the I Am Music Workshop in St. Louis on Saturday, so I headed out early Friday morning up I-55, vainly searching for some sort of breakfast. Finally, at Blytheville I found a Hardeee’s where I could pick up a biscuit breakfast, and then I headed on into the Missouri bootheel.
At Cape Girardeau, I went into town to browse at some thrift stores and pick up a cappuccino at the Broadway Books and Roasting Company, and then I continued northward into St. Louis.
I had thought about doing some musicological research in old East St. Louis newspapers at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, but I decided that if I did that, I wouldn’t have any time to shop at local record stores, so I changed my mind and headed to Record Exchange instead. I found a number of 45 singles on St. Louis and East St. Louis labels, but I hadn’t brought much money to spend and I wasn’t sure what I would find at other stores, so I didn’t buy anything there.
The weather was already grey, and turning much colder as I returned to my car and drove over to Euclid Records in Webster Groves. I ended up not buying anything there either, because the Leo Gooden CD I was hoping to find was one they had sold out of, but I did pick up a flyer about live jazz Friday night at a place called Robbie’s House of Jazz in Webster Groves. After a brief stop at Webster Records, I realized that I had only a little time for dinner if I hoped to make it back to the jazz club for live music, so instead of driving over to Vintage Vinyl in University City, I drove to the Galleria where the Cheesecake Factory was, and ate dinner there. After stopping by a Borders Books where I bought a true crime history of East St. Louis, I drove over to the jazz club I had heard about. The club was predominantly African-American, but I was warmly welcomed and made to feel right at home, and the large local jazz ensemble that was playing was excellent. If I had stayed to the end, I might have gotten to sit in on piano, but I was really exhausted, partially from the drive, and partly from having overeaten at the Cheesecake Factory. So I left and drove back into St. Louis on Manchester/Chouteau until I came to the Sheraton hotel where the conference had booked my room. Valet parking was quite expensive, but I had no problems checking in, and my suite of a room was beautiful. I learned that the building had been the Edison Brothers shoe warehouse, and that half of it had been made into a hotel, and half of it into condominiums.