Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Magic of Memphis

A couple of weeks back, I had the pleasure of playing a 45-minute solo set at a new venue just up the road in Forest Hill, called Canvas and Cream. It's an amazing place, and I'm pleased to say that the lovely management have asked me back again, on 4th October, on a bill with my friend Paul Betts and the ever-amazing Flamexicano.

Shortly before it all kicked off, I was sitting in the garden behind the venue with a couple of people, one of whom mentioned that a drummer with a studio just around the corner had once played with Isaac Hayes, and had photographic evidence to prove it. They were all amazed at the idea of photos of Isaac, and for most people in the normal world, that would be entirely understandable.

At that moment it hit me full-on in the face. I grew up in Memphis in the period 1974 - 1995 - a place where one might casually wander into a friend's house and find a rockabilly legend, wait on a genre-hopping genius, see Sam Phillips out mowing his lawn on a regular basis (my mother once had Al Green as a member of a school focus group, just for the record), have Al Jackson's wife as a teacher and see him dropping by the school, be befriended by an awesome artist who happens to be the niece of Duck Dunn, meet Alex Chilton on a friend's sofa and subsequently form a sort of friendship with him. That sort of place, just normal life.

Well, that may have been normal for Memphibians of my generation, but for the rest of the planet it is the stuff of legend, which brings me back to Isaac Hayes. Back in the early '90s, I lived a couple of blocks from Squash Blossom, a health food restaurant and grocery store on Poplar Avenue in Midtown, Memphis. Almost every time I went in there, which was frequently, Isaac Hayes was there. Normally he was just ahead of me in the queue, and as one friend recently pointed out, he had an annoying habit of ordering the last slice of the vegetarian pizza. I never actually spoke to him, which I regret, but he always seemed like a very likeable and approachable person, and his skin was amazing, a veritable baby's bum across all of his visible body.

1 comment:

Paul Dudenhefer said...

What a great story, Jimi. Thanks for posting!