10/30/09: A Rainbow at Portico/Jimbo Mathus Live at Coda in Monroe LA

Bands, Coffee, Coffee Bars, entertainment, events, music, Night Clubs, Restaurants

I got a very late start heading out of town because my computer wouldn’t sign on to the internet and I was on the phone with AT & T for an hour trying to get it working, only to discover that there was a neighborhood outage. I wasn’t in a very good mood, and it was raining steadily, so when Boss King called and wanted me to meet him at Brother Juniper’s for breakfast, I said “Why not?” and headed over there. That wasn’t a bad way to cheer up, and soon I was on my way down I-55, but slow going since the rain wouldn’t let up at all.
Since I was running so far behind schedule, I decided not to stop in Jackson, and took the I-220 loop around to the westside and on to Vicksburg.
At Tallulah, I stopped at the McDonald’s for a cappuccino, and then headed on into West Monroe, with maybe about an hour to spare before the antique shops started closing. The rain had tapered off to just a drizzle, but rather ominous was the Ouachita River, which had risen so far above floodstage that it was currently just below the underside of the DeSiard and Louisville bridges. As I usually do anytime I’m in Monroe, I visited the antique stores in search of Grambling memorabilia, and this year I hit paydirt, finding Grambling annuals for 1959, 1960, 1963 and 1964 at the Cottonport Antique Mall. There was also one there from 1966, but I didn’t buy it since I wasn’t sure what else I would find at other shops. Down the street at the Ouachita River Trading Company, I found two more Grambling yearbooks, for 1991 and 1995, and then I headed over to Books-A-Million in Monroe to see if they had any new books about Monroe, Grambling or Shreveport, but I didn’t find much there.
The rain was starting to pick up again as I left the bookstore, but when I arrived at Portico Bar and Grill for dinner, it had stopped, and a beautiful rainbow had appeared in the east. For a moment it was a double rainbow, and then it became a single again, but an unusually perfect one, reaching the treeline at both ends. Inside, the restaurant was as cheery as ever, with a live band playing and waitresses and bartenders costumed for Halloween. Waiting for my filet mignon, I checked emails and noticed that Jimbo Mathus was supposed to be in Monroe tonight, playing at a bar called Coda, so I decided to go if I didn’t end up over in Grambling.
After dinner, I rolled past Carroll High and Wossman High looking for a high-school football game, but nothing seemed to be going on, except over in West Monroe. So I checked into my hotel room at the Jameson Inn in West Monroe, and then drove across the street to get a cappuccino at the Corner Coffeehouse. I had planned on calling my friend Dr. Reginald Owens who lived in Grambling, but I could not reach him, so I drove over to Coda, a new bar and grill in Monroe that had not been open last year, and got a table near the stage for the Jimbo Mathus show. Justin Showah, the owner of Hill Country Records came with Jimbo, and I got a chance to hang out with them briefly before the first set. Jimbo’s typical rock/country/blues mix seemed to fit the crowd just right, the high point of the set (for me) being his trademark version of “Casey Jones.” Thoroughly tired from a day of driving against the weather, I called it a day after the first set.

10/16/08: Grambling State University Homecoming

Coffee, Coffee Bars, entertainment, events, Football, Hip Hop, music, Night Clubs, Restaurants

A cold front had brought a dreary, heavy, continuous rain to the Memphis area as I was preparing to head out of town to the Grambling homecoming, and even though I had intended to run by early voting before going out of town, the line was so long that I couldn’t wait. I called Charlie Braxton in Jackson, Mississippi and decided to meet him at lunch so I could pick up some Donnie Cross singles to take to DJs in the Monroe/Grambling area, and fortunately it wasn’t raining in the Jackson area.
I had planned on going to Up The Creek Fish Camp, but Charlie decided he preferred pizza, so we stopped at a Mellow Mushroom Pizza in Flowood next door to the Up The Creek, and a Jackson rapper named Tony B met us there. After a latte at Cups in Fondren, I headed out west on I-20 toward Vicksburg, running back into the rain that was heading east toward Jackson.
The weather was truly nasty for the better part of my trip, but just outside of Monroe, the rain tapered off, and the weather became much cooler. Streets were still wet, but it wasn’t raining as I pulled into the Holiday Inn to check in. After getting settled into my room, I headed out to dinner, choosing Portico Bar and Grill on Tower Drive, which was crowded as always, and decorated for Halloween, just as I remembered it from last year. Despite the huge crowd, I was amazed that there was no wait, and as I enjoyed a filet mignon, a band began playing in the lounge area, and people were sitting around the bar watching a college football game.
Afterwards, I stopped by Books-A-Million, specifically to see if there were any new books about Grambling there (there weren’t any), and so I went on into West Monroe to the Corner Coffeehouse for a latte. Then, listening to my compilation of Monroe rappers, I continued the 30 miles to Ruston and Grambling.
At Grambling, a large crowd was gathered at a new nightclub called Plush that had opened next door to the Chevron near the I-20 exit, and I thought about going there, but decided against it, and headed down into the Village instead, but Main Street seemed relatively deserted, and even the quadrangle was unusually calm and subdued. There was only a small crowd in front of the Favrot Student Union and food court area, and a few students coming from the area of the stadium and assembly center (perhaps the talent show had been held in the new assembly center this year). I noticed that the last high-rise buildings had been demolished as I drove back up RWE Jones Drive to the interstate. Back in Monroe, nothing was happening on Olive Street, nor at Club Krystal on Washington. Club Dominos clearly had the crowd, but I decided to go back to my hotel room and get some rest.