Wednesday night is becoming more of a night for live music in Memphis. In addition to Jerome Chism’s weekly performance at the Silver Spoon in Hickory Hill, Memphis soul singer Rodney “King” Ellis has started hosting a weekly Grown Folks Wednesday event at Memphis Sounds downtown, featuring the superb Fifth Element Band, and singer Jolynn Diggs. The club is down a flight of stairs underground, which gives it a sort of speakeasy atmosphere, and the band plays great soul and blues music all night long. And there’s no cover charge either. Meanwhile, Ellis is said to be hard at work on his forthcoming new album.
While walking around downtown Charlotte, I happened to notice Bar Cocoa, a swank dessert bar adjacent to the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton hotel. Lured inside by the beautiful cakes in the window, I had a hard time choosing between cupcakes, gelato, truffles, macaroons or slices of cake. I ultimately settled for a chocolate cupcake and a cup of coffee, which I took down into the lobby bar, where a smooth jazz/neo-soul band called 5th and York was playing. Deciding to hang out awhile, I ordered another cup of coffee from the lobby bar, and was amazed (and thrilled) to see it brought in a french press. Altogether, my evening at Bar Cocoa was very pleasant, and from what I could tell, there is a food menu as well.
201 East Trade Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
When I got back to the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, I could hear a band playing on the roof of Cafe Circa, which was actually a separate tapas bar known as The Reserve. My attention had been drawn to the place on Wednesday night when I had noticed two tuba players walking down Boulevard toward Edgewood while waiting for the A3C shuttle outside the Sound Table. Later, I could hear a New Orleans-style brass band playing on the rooftop of the Reserve, and was just about to go up there, when the shuttle arrived. So on this Thursday night, I headed up the stairs eagerly and took a seat to enjoy the band, which was known as Elevate The Quest and led by jazz/fusion saxophonist Eric Thomas. The music was great, and it was pleasant and comfortable out on the rooftop. Afterwards, I got to talking to the conga player, who told me that the tuba players I had seen might have been part of a group known as the Wolfpack, and he showed me a YouTube video of what appeared to be a large marching band playing what Atlantans call “crunk music” at a hip-hop show. I did some research online on my phone and discovered that they would be playing Saturday night at midnight in a neighborhood called Castleberry Hill.
There had been instruments set up all afternoon outside of Club Vegas across the street from Ground Zero, but nobody was outside playing them because it was so hot. Finally, it cooled off enough that a drummer named Derick Kemp and a keyboard player came out and played some tunes for the people on the sidewalk.