After Easter morning services at my church, Easter Sunday proved to be dull indeed. I have no relatives in Memphis, my best friend had to work, and a lot of restaurants were closed. But I had seen on Facebook that Windy City Grille in Como, Mississippi would be open, and with evening church and choir practice canceled due to the holiday, I decided to drive down and have a leisurely lunch. Perhaps afterwards I could find a blues picnic, car show or something else to get into. I have to mention that Windy City Grille is an amazing restaurant with an incredible pizza recipe that is said to be similar to Uno’s in Chicago. Having never had Uno’s, I can’t say how Windy City compares, but it’s good enough that Memphis people used to occasionally make the drive to Como for it. More recently, a location has opened closer to Memphis in Hernando, and the food there is just as good, but I still prefer the Como location’s ambiance, and the town of Como itself. Next to the grille, I noticed a poster for a group called the Como Mamas, which I had never heard of until I was reading an article about Mississippi artists at South By Southwest. The three gospel singers are signed to Daptone Records, the same label that earlier had released the excellent Como Now compilation.
After lunch, I saw signs around the town of Como for a car show at a place called LP’s Ball Park, but try as I might, I could not find it. While trying to find it, I found something else, the beautiful Davis Chapel Church from 1851 on the Old Panola Road west of Sardis. When I finally stopped at the convenience store in Como and asked about the car show, I was told it had been postponed a week due to the weather. There was a Lightning Malcolm birthday party scheduled for 7 PM in Clarksdale, but that was still three hours away, and I couldn’t think of how I’d possibly kill three hours in Clarksdale on Easter Sunday. So I reluctantly drove on back to Memphis.
Morning Bell Records in the Fondren neighborhood of Jackson, Mississippi is that city’s only independent record store, and it is a unique treasure. The focus of the store is vinyl, and there is a great selection of both new and used vinyl records. Of course, there is also a wonderful selection of Jackson and Mississippi music in both CD and vinyl formats, and a small selection of new and used CD’s, primarily indie rock. Besides the record store items, Morning Bell stocks craft beer and artisan sodas, and is also a recording studio for local bands and a record label. My brief browsing yielded some absolute jewels, including a Lightning Malcolm CD on Jimbo Mathus’ old Knockdown South imprint, the latest CD from Jackson hip-hopper 5th Child and a used CD of Neon Bible by Arcade Fire. Morning Bell Records is located in the old Duling School at 622 Duling Avenue in Fondren. You can visit them at http://morningbellrecords.com/.
Cedric Burnside carries on the legacy of his grandfather, legendary hill country blues guitarist R. L. Burnside. But what is unique about Cedric is first of all his amazing talent as a singer, a guitarist, a songwriter and a drummer. Even more impressive is how effortlessly he adapts the trance-like hill country style into the grooves of modern funk and rock-and-roll. The Hi-Tone, with its walls lined with multi-colored lights and old Memphis posters and album-covers, provided the perfect juke-joint ambiance for Cedric’s electrified hill-country stomps. An unexpected reunion with Lightning Malcolm capped the night’s festivities, coaxing the crowd out of their seats and onto the dancefloor.