Saturday 8/5/2006 - Ernest C. Withers, Road Trip to Nashville, Tom Waits Concert,
Raindogs Gathering, Layla's

We woke up at around 8am, and the five of us showered in succession. Craig and I were feeling a bit hungry and found out that Kevin, Tom, and Karen had actually gone out for a pizza when they left O'Brien's last night. We commented that we wished we had gone too but they disagreed saying that it didn't sit very well in their stomachs when trying to sleep. They said they sort of wished they hadn't had anything before bed. Craig made coffee for everyone, and we all chatted as we got ready for the day. We weren't in a big rush to go anywhere this morning, so we took our time. Craig got a call from the front desk saying that our trunk was open in the parking lot. Our trunk was open? There's nothing in it so if someone pried it open there couldn't be anything missing. They said it wasn't wide open but it appeared to be unlatched and slightly ajar. Even though we weren't really too concerned they wanted Craig to go down there to check it out. Craig joked that it was probably some elaborate panhandling set-up and that he would be mugged when he got down there. When he came back a few minutes later he joked that there was someone sleeping in the trunk. In actuality, all had been fine. Maybe it just didn't latch tightly yesterday when we left it? Anyway, there had been nothing in the trunk, or the car, and there was no damage so there was no problem. While Craig was out there he ran into Craig M. and Ken(adian) who were in the process of leaving Memphis headed for Nashville. Apparently they were going to catch a free daytime performance and needed to hit the road. We hadn't even finished the complete 5 person shower cycle yet.

It was after 11:00 by the time we were ready to head out of the room. Once again we didn't take advantage of the free breakfast at the hotel as it was long since over. That was ok with all of us though as we enjoyed our leisurely morning. We finally checked out of the hotel, but they were nice enough to let us stay parked there for a while. We walked across the street to Confederate Park, from which there was a very nice view of the Mississippi River. There were also a few cannons apparently there to defend Memphis from a potential Arkansas attack. In the center of the park was a large statue of Jefferson Davis. After we took a quick look around we headed out in search of breakfast. Kevin wanted to go to the Blues City Cafe on Beale St. for breakfast, and we kept trying to say that we didn't think they served breakfast there. We arrived and Kevin asked the nice gentleman working the front door if they were still serving breakfast as it was now 11:45. "Breakfast?" he said. "We don't sell no breakfast. What do you want breakfast for?" and he joked with Kevin but said he didn't know where we could find breakfast. As we approached the King's Palace Cafe, I was telling Karen what a bad experience we had there in 2001. I was saying "We can eat anywhere but here..." and just then Kevin and Tom saw the sign saying they served breakfast, walked in the door, and asked for a table. D'oh! Oh well, they were still serving breakfast and they did have biscuits and gravy on the menu, so I decided to give them a second chance. As soon as we were inside Kevin remembered the place and said, "Oh yeah. This sucked." We sat down at a corner table. It was funny at the time as there was a big room with only one other occupied table, right next to us. Craig got coffee and orange juice, and I had sweet iced tea. Teh waitress took a picture of the group of us. There wasa service door right behind our table, and as soon as she took the picture a man burst through the door and startled us. In the photo you can see his face in the window and it looks rather creepy. I ordered two orders of biscuits and gravy with a side of hash browns. Craig got a ham and cheese omelette with kielbasa sausage, home fries, and toast. The breakfast was actually very good, and we were happy that the place had redeemed itself. It is a classic place that we really wanted to like on our previous visit but it was really a horrendous experience last time. Perhaps we will have to keep it in mind for breakfasts but not for dinners. We ate rather slowly enjoying our time, having a great chat with lots of laughs and lots of coffee. We finally decided to head for the cars as Tom and Karen needed to get to Nashville where they would be staying the night with one of Tom's friends.

On the way back to the cars, we passed the Center for Southern Folklore again. Karen and Tom hadn't been there yet, so we stopped in. Craig bought a small doll for Nanie, and it turned out to be made by Rufus Thomas' daughter-in-law. Everything in this town has a story. I flipped through the black and white photos in the hopes of finding the famous photo of our late friend Frank (B.B. King's former bus driver) and B.B.'s entire entourage and their new tour bus in front of the King's Palace Cafe in 1955. We had the photo in several books at home, and I would have loved to get a print. I asked the proprietor about it and she said they didn't have that one but she knew the photo we meant. We couldn't remember the photographer's name, but she said that he had a shop on Beale St. All of a sudden I got an image in my head of the cover of the book, and remembered "Ernest Withers". She said that was him, and told us that his studio is on Beale Street next to a store called Eel, Etc. She said that he is often in his office, and that we should ask the guy at Eel, Etc. how to find him. We couldn't let this opportunity go to waste. It had now been just about a year since Frank passed away, and we missed him terribly. We couldn't pass up the chance to meet the photographer who had taken that classic photo. Never mind all the other amazing photographs he had taken through the years, but the B.B. King bus picture held a special place in our hearts. We were running rather late and we still needed to drive all the way back to Nashville, but we decided to go back to Beale anyway. Kevin, being an artist himself, was totally up for it. Karen and Tom had to head out, so we said our goodbyes to them and told them we would see them in Nashville.

We walked back down to Beale and found Eel, Etc. I asked the guy about Ernest Withers' studio, and he said "You have to call him. The number's over there." I went to the door of 333 Beale and a sign proclaimed "Ernest C. Withers Photography." The door was locked, but there was a business card taped to the window. At this point it was already 1:30, and if he wasn't actually here, we didn't think we would be able to meet him before we had to head to Nashville. But I called his cell phone number anyway, and he answered right away. I introduced myself and told him about our connection to that classic photograph. I told him that we were hoping to meet him. He said that he wasn't in the office at the moment, but that he could come down to meet us. I explained our situation and said that we had to be on the road very soon. He asked how quickly we could get there. I said that we were already there. He said "I'll be there in 10 minutes." He was so sweet. After I hung up I wondered what 10 minutes actually meant. We were in the South, and this was an old timer. But we'd wait and see what happened, we were hooked. While we waited we listened to Big Jerry playing the blues outside in the alley. We enjoyed his music and his playing. Wanting to be supportive, we picked up a CD from him but at 20$ it really wasn't something we probably should have done. In exactly 10 minutes, a large silver car pulled up and parked right on the street. The driver got out and shuffled across the street toward us. Locals all stopped to say hello to him and we were quickly under his spell. We immediately recognized him as Ernest C. Withers, as there was a bronze plaque of his image on the side of the building (which was named after him). We introduced ourselves and he was such a sweetheart. He said that Stephanie was a nice name. When Craig said that he was my husband, Dr. Withers joked, "Then who were you with at B.B. King's last night?" with a mischevious smile. This was exactly the sort of humor we would expect from Frank and so we knew this would be an amazing experience. We asked him if it was ok if we got a photo of ourselves with him on Beale St.

He got out his keys and unlocked the front door. He led us through a small hallway to another set of locked doors. He opened these and invited us inside. It was an old-fashioned office with several desks, photos on the walls, and stacks of photos everywhere. He told us that he is 84 years old and has been married to his wife Dorothy for 64 years. They sent seven sons and one daughter to college ("and none of them ever went to jail.") He asked where we were from and when we said that we were from Massachusetts, he said that his agent is in Waltham. "On Moody Street". He is quite a famous photographer, having taken lots of classic pictures of Memphis in the '50's and '60's, including lots of Civil Rights photos. He has many famous photos of Martin Luther King. Although he didn't personally photograph MLK's death, the person who did used his studio to develop the film. He was asked to photograph the funeral, however. He was the only person to get photos of B.B. King and Elvis Presley together. He has lectured at Harvard and Yale. He showed us a picture of Rufus Thomas and said that he had just gotten a phone call from Rufus' daughter Carla the other day. He showed us some photos of the infamous Emmett Till murder case in 1955. Till was a 14-year-old from Chicago who was visiting relatives in Mississippi area. He allegedly whistled at a white woman and was murdered a week after his arrival in Mississippi. Dr. Withers self-published a pamphlet of photographs documenting the case, in which the two white suspects were acquitted of the crime by an all-white jury. This case was a pivotal event which contributed to the Civil Rights Movement.

Dr. Withers looked through the stacks of photos in the office and said, "Of course that's the one that I don't have. It's a mover." He said that he could get a print made up and send it to us. This was fine with us. He said that he's had a great life and has seen so much in his 84 years. Life is fleeting, and he never takes it for granted. He showed us a photo of him in the army in Saipan, in front of an army photo lab where he first learned his craft. He also showed us his rookie police photo. He was one of the two first African American policemen in Memphis. His books are currently out of print but we told him that we have "The Memphis Blues Again: Six Decades of Memphis Music Photographs" at home (thanks to our friend Francis!). Kevin was interested in the book and Dr. Withers said that he might have an extra copy around somewhere. He went digging through his file cabinet and found two copies of the book. He said he could part with one of them. He opened the cover and realized that he had already signed the book back in '04. He signed it again and dated it 2006, and at Kevin's request he inscribed it to Kevin.

He paged through the book and pointed out things about just about every picture. When he got to the picture with B.B.'s bus and Frank (on the extreme right), he held it up and posed for a photo with us. He taught us some facts that we hadn't known, such as that Junior Parker is Al Green's cousin. We talked about Rev. Green's church in Memphis, and he said he really likes that Rev. Green is all about the religion. He pointed out a photo a Charlie Pride, and referred to him as a "ballplayer." (Dr. Withers had also taken lots of historical photos of the Negro Baseball League.) He pointed out a young Aretha Franklin, Ike and Tina Turner, etc. He still viewed them as neighbors and said that some of them were "starting to make it big." He would also say things like "and she used to live right over there" while pointing in a direction indicating that she was a local girl. He showed us a photo of Johnny Ace and said, "That was before he was playing monkey. You know, Russian roulette". He showed us a picture of the founders of Stax records, and told us that Stax got its name as a concatenation of the names of Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton. He commented that a lot of folks in the pictures had passed away, and he was lucky to still be here.

After about an hour, he grabbed another book and was about to start flipping through it with us when he remembered that we had to get to Nashville. It was a shame we were short on time, because we were enjoying ourselves so much and this second book was one we had never seen before. He put the book aside and took our order for the photo and said that we would have it by Saturday or the following Monday. He wrote out a receipt and was very concerned about his reputation and the fact that he wouldn't cheat us. We had no doubts whatsoever. We told him about our trip to Africa. He said that he has been to Kenya on a Lear jet. He has been to 28 countries. One of his sons worked in President Carter's administration, and Dr. Withers had met Jimmy Carter. He said he also met and photographed Nixon. "Most people don't like him, but he was always very nice to me." We thanked him profusely and he thanked us, saying that it was nice when people appreciate his work. He simply tries to capture a moment in time. We took a few more photos of him and said goodbye. After getting his permission, I gave him a hug and he joked that Kevin would get a picture of that and send it to his wife and get him in trouble. I told him to make sure he signed our photo on the front, and he promised that he would. It was such a great visit and we are so thankful that he took the time to come and meet us. It was an amazing experience. He really reminded us of Frank. He was so friendly and open, and willing to share his work and stories. We were so glad that this just happened to work out. It was a definite highlight of the trip as it was so unexpected.

We walked rather quickly back to the car and finally hit the road for Nashville at around 3 o'clock. Later than we had expected, but it was worth it. Just outside of Memphis, we stopped to fill the car with gas and bought a few bottles of water and Gatorade. In this heat we wanted to make sure not to get dehydrated. As we got closer to Nashville we realized we would need to make one more bathroom break before we arrived. The next rest area happened to be the "Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams Rest Area." We found this quite amusing. There were pictures of Loretta and Hank right next to the door to the ladies' room. We just had to get a photo or two of this as we found it simply hilarious! We got to downtown Nashville at around 6:10. We found our hotel right away: the Courtyard Marriott Nashville Downtown. They valet parked the car while we checked in. We hopped into the elevator and immediately thought of Jarlath. It seems the elevator company was named Dover. I don't think there is a Raindog alive that will ever see the name Dover again without thinking of Jarlath. We were to be staying in room 1108 and Craig was disappointed that it was so close to 1111, yet so far away! We headed to the room, quickly got ourselves ready for the concert, and then headed back out as we were pressed for time. We noticed the BellSouth Building towering overhead. How could you not? It is the tallest building in Tennessee, and as Kevin said, "It looks like a weapon." Craig pointed out that with its twin spires it could easily support two King Kongs at once.

We walked down to the Ryman, where Kevin was supposed to meet Craig M. We got there at 6:45. Craig and I headed over to the Hilton a little further down the street to pick up our will-call tickets in room 707. What a nice hotel! Very airy indoor courtyard, a sax player in the lobby, glass elevators overlooking the lobby, etc. Very swanky. We took the elevator to room 707 and met Kat, who gave us our tickets. Ours were the second to the last pair to be picked up. As we left the building we noticed that it was right next door to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Perhaps that was something we would do tomorrow as our flight isn't until late afternoon and we still had no real plans for that time.

It was now around 7:00, and we realized we wouldn't have time for dinner as the show would begin at 8:00. That was ok, we were too excited to eat anyway. We walked back to the Ryman and went inside. The doors had opened while we were at the Hilton. The Ryman was first opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892. Soon afterwards, various performances were held there, and the stage was constructed in 1901. The Grand Ole Opry made its home there from 1943-1974. Restored in 1994, it is once again a prized venue in Nashville. We met up with Kevin and Craig M., and then Zev and Christina, whom Craig had met in Atlanta. They introduced us to their friends Brigitte and Lawrence. We entered the auditorium. It was absolutely beautiful with ornate wooden pews and stained glass windows opposite the stage. We saw that Matt and Helen were right up front. We were so happy for them as sometimes they are relegated to the back of the floor section. We found our seats and were very happy to discover that we were in the second row of pews (again, behind two rows of folding chairs). Awesome! After scoping out the seats we went to the rest room and wandered around the lobby some more. We wanted to go into the little museum/store but it was rather crowded and the lines were somewhat long. We saw Duke standing in line at the bar with all the other patrons. So, not only does he have to buy his own drinks, he has to wait in line too? Jeez. Tom told us he also ran into Larry Taylor in the gift shop.

We went back to our seats and chatted with Stuart from Bowling Green who was seated just in front of us. This was his first Tom Waits show but he would also be going to the show in Louisville two nights later. He said that he lived just about at the midpoint of the two venues. We told him he would be very glad with his decision to attend both shows. We were seated right next to Charlie and Cheryl. Charlie was rather easy to spot in the crowd as we was sporting a bright blue suit. It must have been rather hot and uncomfortable since most other people were in shorts and t-shirts. We didn't know Cheryl but she told us that she moderates the StrayDogs list, and insisted she knew us from somewhere. She then realized she knew us from our website. She said, "Now that I think of it I don't even know how I stumbled into your Africa pages." Kevin and Craig M. were just a couple of rows behind us. As we looked around we saw all of the familiar faces: Cathie and Phil, Shane and Shawn, Sarah, Laurie, Ida, Jerry, Lance, Rebecca. Tom and Karen came by to say hi (they were in the balcony tonight). The place was buzzing with excitement as 8:00 approached and everyone was taking their seats.

The show started at around 8:20. The Ryman had amazing acoustics, and everything sounded great. We had heard that it is supposedly second in the U.S. only to the Mormon Tabernacle. The audience went crazy as Tom appeared with a small red feather in his hat and the band started into "Make It Rain." I got a short video clip of "Hoist That Rag." During "God's Away on Business," Tom led an audience clap-along. Bent was shaking some weird twisted seed pod for percussion. Next was "All The World Is Green," followed by "Blue Valentines." The album version of "Blue Valentines" had never really grabbed me, but tonight I was a convert. The stage was awash in blue light and the bluesy arrangement was perfect. Next was "Way Down In The Hole," which made Sarah's night (she had been hoping to see it performed in a century-old church). Rebecca G. (two rows in front of us) yelled "We love you, Tom!" and Tom replied "I love you too, babe" and made a little hand gesture. Rebecca almost fell off her chair. It was great to witness.

Tom conjured the piano from offstage. Once again, it was positioned directly in front of us. Bent, Duke, and Casey left the stage, leaving Larry on the upright bass. Tom launched into "Cemetery Polka." The audience got really into it and started clapping along. Partway through Tom stopped and said, "That's throwing me off, Bob. I appreciate the enthusiasm, but I have a terrible sense of rhythm as it is and you're playing into my inadequacies. Like a bunch of f%^$ing metronomes." It was quite funny and everyone stopped right away. Tom jumped back into the song and he finished without the accompanyment of the fans. I've always wondered why people feel a need to add percussion to songs that don't currently have them. What is it that makes people feel there has to be percussion if an artist made the very conscious decision to do without? It seems to happen at all sorts of shows, people just need percussion. I wonder if it's something primal?

Tom joked that he hadn't been to Tennessee for so long because they told him he couldn't "over-saturate the market." He also remarked that he was told by the Ryman people that they weren't sure he could fill the place. But they told him that there are a lot of people there for the 4:00 tour each day, and maybe he could just be playing then? It was really funny and everyone laughed. Next he did "Tom Traubert's Blues", which was a real treat and many were clearly thrilled to be getting to hear such a classic. He followed that up with "House Where Nobody Lives." After the three song piano set, he waved the piano offstage and the band returned.

They launched into "Who's Been Talkin'/Til the Money Runs Out". For his spoken-word piece tonight, he did "What's He Building In There?" Bent was really into it, making all sorts of weird percussive sounds. He wiggled a sheet of metal and at one point the sounds really got carried away and became louder than everything else. Tom looked at him with a smile and said, "We have an over-zealous percussionist tonight." The audience cheered and Bent just smiled back. They did "Don't Go Into That Barn" tonight. Larry switched to the electric bass, and Bent took over the standup bass. The audience sang along with the "Yes Sir/No Sir" lines, and it had a lot of energy. Next was "It Rains On Me," where Tom prompted an audience sing-along. He finished off the main set with "Going Out West." It was phenomenal. It was so theatrical and when Tom got to the "I look good without a shirt!" line, he pulled his jacket away from his body and screwed his face up into a big crooked cheshire cat grin. It was priceless. The audience went nuts as the band left the stage. There was thunderous applause and people banging on pews and stomping on the wooden floor until Tom came back out for the encore. He did "Day After Tomorrow" solo acoustic, and then the band joined him for a bluesy version of "Heartattack and Vine/Spoonful" to end the show. The complete set list follows:

Make It Rain
Hoist That Rag (Tom on maracas)
Shore Leave
God's Away on Business
All the World Is Green
Blue Valentines (Tom on electric guitar)
Way Down in the Hole (Tom on electric guitar)

Tom on piano and Larry Taylor on bass:
Cemetery Polka
Tom Traubert's Blues
House Where Nobody Lives

Who's Been Talkin'/'Til the Money Runs Out
Murder in the Red Barn (Tom on electric guitar)
Shake It (Tom on electric guitar)
What's He Building in There?
Trampled Rose
Get Behind the Mule (Tom on electric guitar)
Don't Go Into that Barn
It Rains on Me (Tom on electric guitar)
Sins of the Father (Tom on electric guitar)
Going Out West

Day After Tomorrow (Tom solo on acoustic guitar)
Heartattack and Vine/Spoonful

The show was two hours long. As we exited the Ryman we saw Stuart and thanked him again. He smiled and said he was glad that we enjoyed it. We went outside and met up with the gang. We chatted with Matt, Helen, Laurie, and Sarah. Dawn had the set list scribbled on her arm. They called us over for a group photo. Some guy I didn't know was nice enough to get a shot with my camera. Everyone was chatting excitedly. We didn't see Tom, Karen, or Kevin, so we headed toward the main doors to look for them. We found them standing there with Craig M. and their friend Mike. Some young guy with a video camera claiming to be making a documentary filmed us and asked for our reaction to the concert. He was also passing out postcards of the forthcoming Orphans album. Kevin began questioning the documentarian instead. Trying to determine if he was even a fan, Kevin asked "Have you ever seem Tom Waits live?" When he replied "No" Kevin then asked the follow-up question "Do you know any of his albums?" and basically continued questioning why he felt he was qualified for the job. It was hilarious and the guy eventually moved on to pester other less discriminating folks in the crowd.

Tom, Karen, Kevin, and company wanted to go someplace quiet to chat, so they headed off to a restaurant around the corner. We headed to the Raindogs party at Buffalo Billiards. The private room that had been booked was usurped by another party, so we all hung out in the cavernous sports-bar like atmosphere of the main room. But we found a corner to take over which had several booths. They were playing very bad music ("Electric Avenue") and it was pretty loud. Craig got a Shiner Bock and I got a Smirnoff Ice. Shane and Shawn were there at the beginning, but had to leave early as Shawn had an early flight home in the morning. We were happy to meet Raindogs Tom, Alan, and finally Eric in person. Eric recommended going to the Nashville Parthenon tomorrow, and told us a little bit about it.

We chatted with Dawn and Ben, Matt and Helen, Sarah, Rebecca, Phil, Cathie, and El Rayo X. Rebecca G. arrived, and I said "Hey, Tom loves you!" She asked how I knew and I said, "I was sitting behind you and saw your reaction when he said it!" We also met Kelly and Albertha, who live near Tom Waits. We asked them if they had ever seem Tom before and they laughed and said they "have seen him in the grocery store and at the record store but never performing live". They told a very funny story about one time a fan came up to Tom in the record store and was falling all over himself trying to deal with meeting Tom in public. She said that Tom was clearly very uncomfortable about it. After making their way to the register, Tom was standing right behind Kelly. She turned and politely said to Tom, "Nobody ever recognizes me like that," and Tom laughed.

We had a great time and the night flew by quickly. They weren't serving food, though, and since our last meal had been breakfast at noon, we were quite hungry. At 1:00 we said our goodbyes and left to find Kevin and go to Layla's to see Rich Gilbert play.

While walking up the street we ran into Kevin. He had actually come by Buffalo Billiards earlier but hadn't seen us inside. We had been watching for him but it was quite a large place and apparently neither of us found the other. That was ok, we had managed to connect now on the street corner. We sat down and chatted for a few minutes. He told us of yet another panhandler encounter. This time he had been alone (had just said goodnight to Tom and Karen) when he was accosted by a panhandler who asked for money. Kevin said that he had no cash, and the panhandler jumped all over that. "Not even a penny?" Kevin said no. At this point, the panhandler abandoned his original request for money and instead focused on the fact that Kevin didn't even have a penny. "You don't even have a penny? If you saw a penny would you even pick it up? Are you too good for a penny?" Kevin was glad to get away from him and meet up with us.

Kevin asked if we were still planning on seeing Rich play. He said he walked by and although the band was quite loud Kevin said he thought Rich was great. We told him we wanted to go see him and hopefully find something to eat as well. We walked down to Broadway and peeked into Layla's Bluegrass Inn. Rich Gilbert and friends were playing inside, and a kick-ass version of "Brown Sugar" was blaring out. We were torn between wanting to go inside, but also wanting to feed our empty stomachs. As luck would have it, there was a hot dog and sausage cart right outside of the club. While Craig and Kevin ordered hot dogs, I stepped inside and watched "Brown Sugar" and got a few photos and a short video. I went back out to the sidewalk to eat my hot dog while Craig ate a sausage with onions and hot peppers. This wasn't one of those huge outdoor vendor sausages,it was more like the size of a regular hotdog. It really hit the spot but made us realize just how hungry we were. Craig ordered another round. I went back inside to watch the band play "Rolling in my Sweet Baby's Arms." Craig and Kevin came in with the hot dogs and we sat at a table to eat. We went to the bar and ordered drinks. I got a Twisted Apple Smirnoff and Craig had a Bass Ale. The band played Willie Nelson's "I Gotta Get Drunk" and the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Sin City." We really enjoyed the music and the people watching was quite fun too. One guy was sound asleep at the bar and the bartender kept trying to wake him up and tell him it was time to move on, that he couldn't sleep here. At about 1:50 I went out to get another hot dog for Craig and myself. Now that we had finally eaten something, we couldn't stop. Fortunately the cart was packing up for the night and we would have to declare ourselves finished. The band played a couple more songs and we finished our hot dogs and drinks.

Rich was packing up his gear and I went over to say hello. He said, "I was just coming over to see you guys. Thanks for coming out. How was the Tom Waits concert?" We told him it was great. I asked what the name of the band was. He said "Heath Haynes and...uhh...Heath, what's the name of the band?" The frontman said "The Four Ballers." Rich smiled and said "Heath Haynes and the Four Ballers." We chatted with him and said we really enjoyed the set. Kevin asked how often he plays and he said that he has played the past six nights with four different outfits. He had also been in the studio. Tom and Karen had told us about a great pancake house in Nashville, but we had forgotten the name and had no idea where it was. Since Rich is now a local, I said, "So where is this pancake house that everybody talks about?" He immediately lit up and said, "The Pancake Pantry! They have the best pancakes! There was this comedian who died...what was his name? Heath, who was that comedian who died, he sometimes had a bassist? Anyway, he did a thing about pancakes about how when you order pancakes you are always like "MMMM! Pancakes!" and then halfway through you're like "I'm f$#%ing sick of these pancakes!" They're not like that. They're so good. You'll wait half an hour, especially on a Sunday, but you should be fine if you get there by 11." He gave us directions and then introduced his wife Judy. She was very sweet and we told her that we had seen Rich play with Tanya. She said that she's originally from Somerville. We told her we were from the North Shore and she said that every time she thinks of that area all she can think of is "Bunghole Liquors". A much loved and obscene-sounding liquor store chain in the area. I mean, with a name like that what's not to love? The name is an instant classic with any local. The pun has so many different layers, it took me years before I even realized the extra level of amusement that "liquors" brought along to the mere use of the word "Bunghole". She laughed just thinking about it and then apologized.

We asked if stores would be closed on Sunday. Rich said no, but commented that everyone goes to church there, including people you wouldn't suspect. Kevin, thinking of our trip to Rev. Green's church in Memphis five years ago, said, "Well, if you can recommend a good church that we had to visit..." Rich said he wouldn't be the person to ask. I chatted with Judy about the Tom Waits concert and Kevin asked Rich for recommendations on good record stores. Rich spoke highly of the Great Escape, and it turned out to be right on the way to the Pancake Pantry. It sounded perfect. We said goodbye and said that we'd see him in October if he and Tanya play some shows in Boston. At a little after 2:00, we finally left Layla's feeling a bit buzzed and happy. We walked back to the hotel, and as we passed room 1111, Craig ran over and was pointing at it enthusiastically and I had to get a picture of it. Once back at the room we hung out for a while chatting and laughing, and finally went to sleep at around 3:30. What a fantastic day.
Mississippi River

Breakfast at King's Palace Cafe - Kevin, Steph, Craig, Tom, Karen

Craig and Kevin - King's Palace Cafe

Ernest C. Withers Building

Craig and Steph with Ernest C. Withers on Beale St.

Ernest C. Withers and Kevin

Ernest C. Withers showing B.B. King bus photo (Frank is on the far right in the photo) to Craig

Ernest C. Withers and his family photos

Loretta Lynn Hank Williams Rest Area

Casey Waits, Tom Waits, Duke Robillard at the Ryman

Casey Waits, Tom Waits, Duke Robillard at the Ryman

Watch Tom Waits play 'Hoist That Rag' 'Watch Tom Waits play
'Hoist That Rag' (20 second clip)

Ryman Interior

Charlie, Dawn with set list on her arm, Ben

Post-Ryman Raindogs

Karen, Tom, Steph, Craig, Kevin

Shane, Dawn, Shawn - Buffalo Billiards

Sarah, Alan, Craig - Buffalo Billiards

Helen, Lilly, Jarlath - Buffalo Billiards

Kelly and Albertha - Buffalo Billiards

Helen, Matt, El Rayo X, Jarlath, Eric, Ben - Buffalo Billiards

Hans, Laurie, Tom - Buffalo Billiards

Layla's Bluegrass Inn

Rich Gilbert and Heath Haynes - Layla's Bluegrass Inn

Rich Gilbert with Heath Haynes and the Four Ballers - Layla's Bluegrass Inn

Judy and Rich Gilbert

Watch Heath Haynes and the Four Ballers play 'Brown Sugar' 'Watch Heath Haynes and the Four Ballers play
'Brown Sugar' (20 second clip)

Watch Heath Haynes and the Four Ballers play 'Rolling in My Sweet Baby's Arms' 'Watch Heath Haynes and the Four Ballers play
'Rolling in My Sweet Baby's Arms' (20 second clip)

Watch Heath Haynes and the Four Ballers play 'I Gotta Get Drunk' 'Watch Heath Haynes and the Four Ballers play
'I Gotta Get Drunk' (20 second clip)

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