On the Upbeat, Positively Carolan

Music City Discovered!


Today, long after a trip to Memphis I’m pretty much still in thrall! I mean, when I discovered that Portland singer/harmonica player Curtis Salgado  — who I had written about through the years — had been nominated for 4 — count them — national blues awards, I made quick decisions:

  • Joined the Blues Foundation to vote for Salgado
  • Booked tickets to the National Blues Awards in Memphis
  • Got my daughter Dena Rossi to come with — she needed a dose of fun

My Favorite TrolleyBlues City Cafe
We stayed in a small hotel right on the Main Street Trolley line and happily rode trollies everywhere, in the process discovering that Memphis is a totally musical city. You hear it everywhere, not only blues but all kinds of music. Not to mention so many names and signs representing music and musicians. Riding the Backbeat Tour bus to Graceland we were entertained by a working guitar player. And we could see that Elvis lives — in photos, t-shirts, cd’s, key chains, you name it — in every shop along Beale Street.

National Civil Rights MuseumThe one place that remains silent is the National Civil Rights Museum — in the Lorraine Hotel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered  — and covering in graphic detail the entire US history of (lack of) and (fight for) civil rights for African-Americans. A sobering stab to the heart and mind …

Fanciful Fountain

In contrast, the Blues Awards were an ordinary amalgam of black and white performers and audience. More than 30 bands enchanted and the “family-style Southern dinner” astounded. As it turned out, Salgado did not pick up any awards. Ah but the highlight of the evening was his “20 Years of BB King,” (listen below), followed by BB himself, bellowing, “20 years nah — it’s 60 years of BB King!” telling us he started right there in Memphis in 1949.

And then, and then …  he sat in with Salgado and his band. He played his Lucille (guitar) and Curtis belted the BB number. Wow, what an amazing treat!

Salgado and BB at Blues Awards



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