10/23/09: I Am Music Workshop Day 1 St. Louis, MO

Bands, Coffee, Coffee Bars, entertainment, events, Hotels, music, Music Conferences, Night Clubs, Record Stores, records, Restaurants, Shopping

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.

11/14/08: Flava in Winston Salem and the Greensboro Hood on Lock/Mid-Atlantic Music Conference in Charlotte

Conferences, Shopping, Travel

It was another grey and rainy day, and after checking out of the hotel, I drove down to a breakfast cafe near the hospitals, and then started my day of work.
To my surprise, I discovered that The Record Exchange in Winston-Salem was still open, even though I had thought all of the stores in that chain had closed. I was informed that a couple of them had become part of the Plan 9 chain based in Virginia. After a mid-morning break for a latte at Cafe Prada west of downtown, I headed over into the hood on the east side of Winston-Salem where there was supposed to be a record store called Miss Lady’s Creations. I found that it had closed down, so I left the promotional materials with a hip-hop clothing store in the same shopping center, and then I drove to Greensboro.
On the westside near the airport was a store called Hood Locker, and after I visited there, I drove across to a Biscuitville restaurant for a chicken biscuit. The manager there was from Germantown, Tennessee, and his brother had been best friends with Tim Auvenshine, the Select-O-Hits sales rep who passed away a couple of years ago. It really is a small world.
The rain was much heavier now as I made my way to two other Hood Locker locations which sold both clothing and music. Then I headed downtown where there was a new record store called Da Beat Music, but although the lights were on and the music playing inside, the doors were locked, and knocking didn’t bring anyone to the door. So I ran across the street in the rain to a coffee bar and enjoyed another latte before beginning the drive down I-85 toward Charlotte.
I had not known that there were panels scheduled for Friday at the Mid-Atlantic Music Conference, so when I first arrived in Charlotte, I had stopped by EZ Records in Eastland Mall. Then I got a call from Kysii Ingram asking me where I was, so I rushed to the Crowne Plaza hotel and checked in, but I soon found that the conference events weren’t being held at the hotel, but I a place called the Imaginarium a few blocks away.
I managed to make it into the opening panel before it was over, and afterwards I and a couple of the other panelists decided to go to dinner. There was supposed to be a Saltgrass Steakhouse out at Pineville, but when we drove out there, we found it closed and abandoned, so we had to settle for Longhorn Steakhouse instead, which was decent. Afterwards, I had a hard time finding any coffee bar open after 10 PM even though it was Friday. I finally found one in the area just below downtown off of South Boulevard, and even they closed at 10:30, but I managed to make it there before they closed. Then a frightful storm came up, so although it was past closing time, we all stayed there for awhile until the rain let up enough to leave.
All the jazz clubs in Charlotte seemed to have gone out of business, so I went back to the hotel and to bed.