Tuesday the 16th
Our first day in Memphis started here at the Philly airport. And ended at the Philly airport.
Five hours in the terminal, three hours on the tarmac waiting in the de-ice que. Then we finally arrived - at the deicing station, only to have to turn around and head back to the terminal because American Airlines didn't put enough fuel on board to get us to the de-icing station AND to Memphis in one trip!
We spent another two hours in the terminal waiting as they promised we'd be taking off soon. John and I entertained the passengers and crew while we waited. I wrote, right there on the spot the “Stuck on the Tarmac Blues”.
9 hours later The flight was cancelled. We were back where we started, looking for our luggage which we were told we could not have back.
We booked the same flight for the next day and that was cancelled at 6AM on Wednesday the 17th. We had to find another way to get to Memphis! We had worked too hard for to long to let some nefarious happenstances derail our opportunity!
Wednesday the 17th
First Night actually IN Memphis…
After three cancelled fights and two days in various airports we arrived in Memphis via La Guardia Airport, NY, late in the afternoon on Wednesday.
We had a HARROWING RIDE from the airport to our hotel with a PSYCHOPATHIC PROFESSOR! (Please read that story in the separate post!)
We missed performer orientation and registration. American Airlines lost our clothes, my Martin Slide Guitar, and all my equipment including my stomp box. We checked in and got our performer passes.
The IBC Schedule Booklet had us listed at 9PM. But it was wrong. Folks who showed up to hear us at 9 missed us.
John and I played at the Pig on Beale Street, 8:30 PM instead. We were wearing the same clothes we had been wearing for days. If our music didn't reach them, our body odor did! We played sans stomp box and short one guitar.
John and I played well. There were a few folks from the Central Delaware and Philly Region and we were so very delighted to hear their cheers and applause! Thank you all for coming!
American, meanwhile phoned and told me the baggage would be delivered by Midnight.
How the IBC judging works:
IBC schedules the competitors for the quarter finals in half hour increments. An act performs for twenty-five minutes. And they have five minutes to vacate the stage. Once the previous act has cleared the stage , the next act has five minutes to get on stage and set up. Acts are penalized if they take longer. If they go over 25 minutes for their performance, they are docked and if they finish more than 3 minutes early they are docked. It is pretty rigid. But doable if one is well prepared.
John and I were well prepared.
THURSDAY THE 18TH
American Airlines refused to deliver our lost luggage. Refused, as in, “if you want your luggage drive to the airport and get it!” Thursday AM we got a ride with Mary, who operated a musicians shuttle, back to the airport and we were able to retrieve our belongings from American Airlines. I almost cried when i saw my martin case there! It was safe! I got it into the hotel room and checked it out. Somehow, it was still in tune! But the binding on my Martin is coming off!
Most folks look like this at the IBC because they've been out partying all night. I looked like this because of American Airlines.
Our next performance
Our second, quarter final performance, was at the PIG, the same venue as Wednesday and was scheduled according to the brochure, for 8:30PM again. We were looking forward to it. I now had the Martin Slide guitar, a clean white shirt, my stomp box, and it felt good. I was exhausted but happy.
Knowing as I do, that things can change, at five PM, I took the liberty of walking down to the Pig and confirming with the onsite Event Coordinator, Sara, what our performance time was. She checked and confirmed 8:30PM. I told her I wanted to make sure because I had heard a rumor that the printed schedule might be wrong. But she looked at a bunch of printed out papers with names and times and reiterated that we were on at 8:30PM. I let everyone know.
We got to the Pig at 7:00.PM and then went across the street to see a really good act there, before returning around 7:15. When the 8:00 act was finished at 8:25, we started to make our way to the stage for our 8:30 start. But another act got on stage before we could get there. John and I exchanged puzzled glances.! I went over to Sara and pointed out that we were scheduled to go up at 8:30 and asked what was going on? She told me we were scheduled for 9:30. I looked at her, possibly with the same look you give an obstinate child who you know is fibbing about something - a look of incredulity and extreme puzzlement.
What was she talking about? I had gone out of my way to confirm the schedule with her directly, just a couple of hours earlier. I reminded her of that fact. She apologized and said the schedule changed. We were now on at 9:30PM. There was nothing to be done.
9:30? I repeated to her after yelling across the room to John that we were on at 9:30. She apologized again and said yes, there was nothing she could do. The schedule was all messed up. But we were now to play at 9:30.
These things happen. I shrugged. What are you going to do 'cept roll with it?
I knew that the folks that wanted to see us, our friends from Delaware and PA, would be expecting us at 8:30.
We waited till 9:30. The guy who took our 8:30 spot was good. We waited for the 9:00 act to take the stage. What would they be like? It's actually nice to go on after an act that is good. I find it inspiring!
As we waited for the next act, I was talking with Slim and John when Sara came up and told me we were next. I looked at her. I was curious why she was reminding me that we were up after whoever was up at 9. I already knew that.
She said, “I mean, now!"
I shook my head. I said the obvious thing. “It's only nine o'clock! You just told me 9:30."
“No, it's 9:00. You're supposed to be up now.”
The last act had been off stage for a while. I had to set up the stomp box, the stomp mic and mic stand, the DI and three guitars! - Had the clock had already started?
We set up quickly and calmly. As with the night before, the sound sucked. Though John and I played well, I somehow forgot to play the second song of our set. It wasn't that big a deal it just meant that John and I jammed a bit longer on our last song.
I am proud of John and myself, that despite the obstacles and adversity of circumstances that have defined our lives since Tuesday we were able to keep our shit together and play well.
Alas, whatever we did, was not to the liking of the judges and we did not make it to the semi finals. We are good enough to have done so. And I will prove it to you all on February 3rd when we play at the Steel City Cafe in Phoenixville.
I told you all I would make you proud. And - not moving on does not preclude that. John and I prepared for this event. We practiced and practiced and practiced. We videoed ourselves so we could see what others would see. We made adjustments and we had our songs down. All that work showed in our playing. We played well.
We will find out if we got penalized for not getting on stage in five minutes. I can't help thinking they surely knew that we were told the wrong time. At this point I would,however, take solace if we had been penalized, as that would mean it wasn't our songs or performance which kept us from advancing. That said, the level of our fellow competitors was just astounding! One performer had toured with James Cotton's band. Another was a protege of Rick Estrin. Judging such a talented group is both extremely difficult and extremely subjective.
Please do not assign any qualitative assessment to the judging, As I said, It's just a crap shoot. John and I play the real blues.
Despite all the challenges of the week, the weird, unsettling turns and twists, it was great to be there! It was amazing to take in so many talented acts and felt so great to have familiar faces in the audience! We met and made new friends. It was great.
John and I are looking forward to our sit down- ticketed concert at Steel City. It is a great place to take in a show! Excellent sound - good food, home brew beer and coffee and distilled spirits.
Here are some other acts we liked:
Nico Wayne Troussaint