I've never been one to jet off to Mexico for Spring Break or to bare my bouncing breasts in a whip cream bikini. I don't ride in convertibles with my hair all tangled behind me or enter beach belly dancing contests.
Don't get me wrong though; I'd like to do these things while I'm young and there's such a thing as Spring Break. It's just that my dad isn't Mr. Rockefeller, and I'm not much of one for planning ahead.
So when Spring Break explodes like pop rocks upon my school-laden life, I normally just drive home to catch up with my friends from high school.
This year I stayed in Knoxville - whuuuuuut was I thinking?
My Spring Break was one big bore. Well, at least the first half, which I spent taking orders at the deli where I work. Instead of melting in the Miami sun, I asked our customers, "Chips, potato salad, cole slaw or fruit cup with that?" over and over and over.
Even St. Patrick's Day blew chunks. All my buds were gone, and I didn't get to drink green beer. I got an ice cream cone from Sonic and went to bed at 10 p.m.
Just when it seemed all hope was lost - I drove to Memphis to visit my boyfriend. You might be assuming that I didn't find much more entertainment in Memphis than I found in Knoxville, but au contraire mon frere, I did. Memphis is way cooler than everyone says. Well, at the very least, it's way cooler than Knoxville. Knoxville drools, man.
Since Memphis is the home of the blues and B.B. King is the King of the Blues, it only made sense for us to see the 77-year-old perform live. So we went straight to the source: B.B. King's Blues Club located on historic Beale Street.
I was all that more excited to catch him because it's not likely that B.B. will be up and kickin' for much longer. He wasn't, however, exactly "up." In fact, King ordered all the air conditioners be shut off (because they aggravate his health problems), and he chose to sit instead of stand (because he said he's earned the right).
The club was immediately sweltering, but this somehow seemed all the more fitting; after all, blues is best when the air is sticky and the people are uncivilized. That they were - one drunk man lifted up his shirt and asked me to rub my fingers through his chest hair. (Huh?) Another drunk guy asked if my boyfriend and I were from America. (I'm pretty sure.)
Though tickets were pretty steep, at $50 a pop, it was perhaps all worth it just to see B.B.'s opener, Ruby Wilson, mop at her sweaty forehead and proclaim, "My chocolate's drippin'!"
Admittedly, I expected B.B. King to be sort of senile and limping. I guess he's not really that old though. Instead, he was ablaze with charm and wit. Though his round face was gray with age, his voice was still fine-tuned for the blues.
King racked up two Grammys just a few days afterward, only further proof that the King of the Blues isn't forfeiting his throne anytime soon.
A night later we returned to Beale Street to catch Robert Randolph and the Family Band. The show was good, first and foremost, because Robert Randolph is an absolute sex bomb. He had girls abuzzin' with lust, a sentiment that he further encouraged by inviting them onstage to shake their rumps in a sort of sad and silly display of backsides and lowered inhibitions.
Secondly, Randolph rocked because he played a mean steel pedal guitar. He made sit-down playing look almost as impressive as B.B. King.
Randolph's songs preached a strange mixed message of faith in God and love of sex - a combination that, though unique, really made a lot of sense. While speaking to the spiritual yearnings of youth, he also embraced the yearnings of our hormones.
Though the show was unforgettable, I have never in my life seen a more shameless bunch of hippie-wannabes. There were the 15-year-old girls with backwards Widespread Panic baseball hats and the frat boys with button-ups and shagged-out hair. One drunk girl with prematurely graying hair kept whirling a drum stick above her head in tune with the beat, whizzing centimeters past my eyeballs. A larger-than-average guy swayed and stomped on my foot. A girl left a footprint on my purse, and when I got home I found another on the back of my sweater (?). OK, maybe I was just getting tired and grouchy.
My boyfriend came valiantly to the rescue; he rounded up two empty cardboard boxes to put on our heads. Dancing with a cardboard box on your head is surprisingly a lot of fun. I didn't have to see the blasted Randolph fans, and it got me smiling unabashedly.
- Ellen Mallernee is entertainment editor at The Daily Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Memphis saves Spring Break
Published: Fri Mar 28, 2003 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 04:58 p.m.