Sunday, April 29, 2012

That's 1-800-DELBERT....

The good news is Delbert McClinton put on a birthday show for me in Myrtle Beach.

Well, he didn't know it was my birthday.

But if he had, he probably would have signed something for me.

The man works hard, appreciates his fans and loves to sign whatever they hand him at the end of the show.


This night he signed a $20 bill, ticket stubs, bar napkins, a few t-shirts, several extended hands,a baseball cap and a big bra.

Yep, a lady handed it up and he placed a cup over his knee and signed his name.

He always makes eye contact as he hands items back to the crowd reaching up to him onstage.

I've seen him several times before and signing things for his fans is a regular feature.

He announced the dates for his next "Sandy Beaches Cruise" where fans are entertained on a ship with several ports of call and other entertainers.

Then he said it was the last cruise.

"So, call 1-800- DELBERT for all the information and get onboard."

Then, laughing, he added "For all your North Floridians, you better write that down...1-800-DELBERT."

I've described before how the House of Blues encourages you to have dinner there before the show.

You present your receipt to the security guys and you queue up in a special line to be admitted first.

I used to do that so I could be in a spot right up at the front of the stage.

Lately though, I liked to get in first to grab one of the few stools scattered around and have a place to sit down during the show.

Worked out very good because you're admitted an hour before the performance. That's a lot of standing.

Uh oh. Looks like House of Blues wants to get every dollar they can so they've added a few more stools but the rush to get one now has a price tag.

While I was standing in line, I heard a fan behind me say she had just heard that Delbert was about 71 years old.

She was carrying a special purse he had signed for her on one of the fan cruises.

"I knew he has played for a long time, but had no idea he was that old."

I turned to her and said "I just hope I can do half what he does when I get to be 71."

She kept smiling as I added "Of course, I just turned 73 today so I guess I'd have to call him Junior."

Delbert and I both stood during the entire concert.

(Click on the pictures for more detail.)

HOB does seem to have backed off from prohibiting cameras.

No more signs warning you.

No reactions from security when a flash goes off.

Looks like cell phone cameras have made a big difference.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Dirty Bourbon River Show? THAT's the name?

Last Sunday was Earth Day so I went to Tin Roof to hear some New Orleans-style music.

Boy Howdy!

One reviewer described the Dirty Bourbon River Show as "whiskey-soaked French Quarter back alley sounds."

I'd go along with that.

Here's the leader of the band Noah Adams working his trumpet in the crowd.

Not that he was a one-man band.

He had a stage full of talented sidemen that knew what they were doing.

I wonder if all tuba players also do great on bass?

And vice versa?

Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr" Bryson in The ROOTS, house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on NBC, has not picked up a bass that I can recall.

I saw Noah with his squeeze box and at the keyboard.

Also guitar, tambourine and, probably, the kitchen sink.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate Earth Day.

Oh, did I mention Tin Roof served a beer called "Ten Fiddy?"

Yes, it's a high gravity beer with - big surprise - a 10.5 ABV.

(Click on the pictures for more details.)

It's a good idea to go easy on 10.5 high gravity beers.

Moderation and responsibility go hand in hand.

I stopped drinking bourbon many, many years ago.

Dirty or otherwise.

Thanks for stopping by. Come again.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Support for Live Music at Freshfields Village.

Twice a year, I head down to Kiawah Island for a musical treat.

Actually, at Freshfields Village, just outside the gate.

In the Spring it's to attend the Blues By The Sea.

In the Fall, it's the American Music Festival.

Both are presented by "Shrimp City Slim," local blues player/event organizer/promoter.

This one was the 8th annual free "By The Sea" concert.

I was comfortable under the new tent and looked around at my fellow music lovers.

Not only is the concert free, but you're allowed to bring your fold-up chairs.

And your cooler.

Even your favorite wine-by-the-glass.

Close at hand is the local Piggly-Wiggly if you're looking for a snack or run low on your beer.

Or finish your book and want to start a new paperback.

Oops. I misspoke.

Here it's called Newton Farms.

Or, as I heard a local call it, the "Pig Newton."

We all have to play the hand we are dealt.

But, good rockin' music in the background makes it all worthwhile and you are the winner.

The main act for the day was Lucky Peterson, featuring his wife Tamara on vocals.

He sang a few upbeat songs and then stepped down from the stage and waded into the audience.

The crowd got up to dance.

Novels were put aside.

Cards went back into the deck.

For fans not under the tent, parasols were closed and tucked away.

Tamara appeared with her microphone and the party got REALLY serious.

(Click on the pictures to see a larger image.)

I have thanked Gary Erwin (Shrimp City Slim) many, many times for his efforts to bring us the blues.

He convinced the Kiawah tourism tax commission to support the blues.

It's good for the area. It's good for Kiawah. It's good for music fans.

The next several shows already have budgets approved.

Good job Gary!

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Oh Mickey...For Shame.

I've worked with Mickey Mouse before. I was in tourism promotion and he was quite the charmer.

He drew crowds and pleased children of all ages.

I guess it was a rule in the Disney hierarchy...Mickey in public did not speak.

Or groan. Saw this version in Las Vegas along The Strip.

He was sprawled out in front of the elegant Venetian Hotel & Casino.

I went inside and found a delightful air-conditioned indoor mall (Well, this place IS pretty warm all year long.)

This one had a simulated blue sky and - being Venice - the expected gondoliers.

I don't gamble and my skin doctor strongly suggests that I NOT sit around the pool in a desert.

That leaves lots of walking around, gawking at the sights.

And stopping in for a beer at B.B. King's place.

I missed going into his one in Memphis but I saw he was not performing tonight in Vegas.

A trio was onstage but took a long break right after I walked in an sat down. They eventually came back as I was leaving. My tab showed I had paid an additional 10% item listed as L.E.T.

My server explained that was a Live Entertainment Tax that clubs charged if there was music.

When you're sightseeing, it's good if you can get to a high spot for the best overall view.

The 108-story Stratosphere Hotel/Casino/Tower was just the place.

They call it "Vegas Without A Net."

Rides at the top jut you out into space, then suddenly jerk down at an angle, giving the illusion you're free-falling.

You also can REALLY free fall from atop the 1,149 foot observation tower (tallest west of the Mississippi) wearing an elaborate harness attached to a strong cable.

Even with a $4 discount for Seniors, I remembered I don't gamble.

The Bellagio Hotel & Casino has a striking visual soaring over its lobby.

2,000 hand-blown glass flowers - called the Fiori di Como - by world-famous artist Dale Chihuly grab your attention in an attention-grabbing lobby.

Many of the throngs sitting at slot machines probably didn't look up except to see if anyone was winning.

These hotels are not built and paid for by winning customers.

The clerks in this store explained I would have to go elsewhere to get a cold and refreshing beverage.

Nearby was P.J. Clarke's, the bar that's featured on Mad Men, the hit 1960s tv series.

"If they are in a bar, it's P.J. Clarke," the bartender told me.

He also encouraged me to take my "go cups" to the circular escalator and find my way back to The Strip.

I remember when the first escalator was installed in the 1950s in Charleston, SC, my hometown.

Not the first one ever built, the first one in Charleston.

My brothers and I went there to check it out. More than once.


It was in Condon's Department store, downtown, across from where Joe Pasta's restaurant is now.

The stores - there were two connected by a skyway - were converted to student housing for the College of Charleston.

That's the beauty of travel -- it makes you appreciate what you have at home.

(Click on the pictures for more detail.)

Las Vegas is about 2,000 feet above sea level.

The "high desert" is about the 7,000 foot level at the Grand Canyon.

(Please click

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Monday, April 16, 2012

A $5 Misunderstanding....

So, I'm walking along The Strip in Las Vegas a week ago, admiring the different street performers in costume.

There's a Fat Elvis and an Early Elvis; there are several Batman (but no Robin), a couple Michael Jackson and Spiderman as well as Mr. Spock.

I remember back in the 1980s when I was here on official state of Missouri business.

No, really. It WAS.

They arranged to have state travel directors pose with two VERY tall showgirls.

These two ladies reminded me of that so I was telling them the story and $5 was mentioned.

I wondered why they would pay ME money.

Hey. Turns out that's what THEY wanted me to pay to have them pose with me.

Later that evening, I'm standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower, watching the lights come on in Sin City.


What a sight.

I went even higher further up the strip at the Stratosphere.

The water fountain show at the Bellagio is free and offered every half hour at night.

It lasts about 4-5 minutes.

Draws quite a crowd.

I also rented a car and made a 24-hour side-trip to Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.

They had not changed much since I was last there but Vegas was completely different.

I spent my last night in town in the old downtown section, on Fremont Street.

In the elegant Golden Nugget.

I don't gamble nor lay around in the sun but I was impressed with their pool.

Even at night.

As an added attraction to the giant aquarium, there's a water slide "tube" that shoots you through, among all the fish and several SHARKS. Yikes.

Then I stepped outside to do the Fremont Street Experience.

This is an entire 4-block long part of the street covered by a huge, curved LED screen that pulsed with lights, sound and action.

On the hour, the other lights dimmed and there was an overhead salute to a major rock & roll band such as Bon Jovi and Queen.


I guess the downtown merchants knew they had to come up with something compelling to compete with the glitzy glamour along The Strip.

Combined, it made for a wonderfully different few days.

As I turned in my rental car, I was reminded that "Elvis has NOT left the building."

(Click twice on the pictures to see amazing details.)

I saw many people lugging huge SLR cameras with equipment bags slung over their shoulder.

My Canon S90 - as usual - was up to the task.

Vegas is an interesting vacation (for a few days) if you don't give all your money to the casinos.

Guess how they pay for all that glitz.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

The Missed Photograph....

A friend asked me the other day if any photo opps come to mind that I had seen but did NOT snap.

Oh yeah.

This goes on all the time.

Even though I usually have my Canon S90 small digital camera with me, sometimes I'm driving and I skip a scene that looks good.

Or other safety considerations make me later regret I had not pulled over and captured a moment.

As a blogger, I often take a picture of a meal I'm about to enjoy. The wait staff at Big Billy's Burger Joint was amused. The small fry basket really caught my eye.

But, there are times I COULD have, SHOULD have but didn't click the shutter.

I had such a moment yesterday when I went to the post office and saw the second lady waiting in line was holding three large Mylar balloons bobbing on strings.


When I joined the line, I noticed one of the postal clerks had several balloons in his work space, including one that said "Happy Birthday, Randy."

That would have made a nice shot...she waiting in line, him smiling over at her. BUT, snapping pictures in the post office is intimidating so I merely watched as she told the next customer "go ahead, I'm waiting for him (pointing to Randy)."

She soon passed him the balloons, said a few words and left, laughing at his embarrassment.

I was next so, as I handed him the bubble-wrapped book I needed to mail. I said "Sorry, Randy, no balloons, but here's a present." He grinned and added the postage. I wished him a happy birthday.

A few months ago, I entered the Pour House music venue rather early, just a few people wandering around, and noticed what had to be one of the band members standing by himself at the bar drinking a beer.

He was clutching his highly-polished stand-up bass next to him.

Instead of taking his picture, I joined him, ordered a brew and said I assumed he was in the band. We both laughed, talked a few minutes and he hefted his bass fiddle and walked off to the backstage area.


A fellow blogger admitted she had missed a great scene at a Civil War reenactment when a lady in a large Southern hoop skirt was trying to get into a porta-potty.

Maybe my friend was too intimidated.

Back when I was a staff photographer for a San Diego newspaper, we would keep an eye out for "filler" shots that could be dropped into the paper as a "feature."

We were not above staging a shot.

Well, never for a news photo. Journalistic ethics.

Luckily I saw this LONG dog and did snap the picture.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The VERY Grand Canyon...

At the different scenic overlooks along the South Rim, shuttle drivers make suggestions.

Some give advice about hiking trails.

Yeah, right. Me trudging to the bottom and walking back up.

Aboard a rescue helicopter maybe.

Others talk about the photography opportunities at each stop. For these, I listen and learn.

In this one we're told there's a view of the Colorado River about a mile or so down.
Uh oh, I see it but it's a muddy dark brown color.

Blends right in.

Well, Photoshop has a blue tool for that.

A little cosmetic touch up for Mother Nature.

I'm no longer a newspaper photographer so I can play around a bit with my photos.

That evening I was disappointed I couldn't see the immense sky filled with millions, or billions, of stars.

This is high desert country so I had hoped to be truly amazed.

The full moon ruined my view.

Duh, wait a minute. Set the camera on a flat rock and take a 15-second exposure.

Pure moonlight. Awesome. Look out Ansel Adams.

The next morning - a day that started at 5:00am to catch a sunrise - I was walking back to the shuttle and had to stop for a deer crossing.

Not a yellow sign warning about the animals, but three deer that were heading from point A to point B.

Across the path and parking lot.

I'm just glad it wasn't Smokey the Bear.

(Please click on the photos - twice - for more detail.)

Later I saw a highway sign with a picture of an elk.

It said simply "Watch for Animals Next 10 Miles."

I was very careful.

I was heading to The Strip in Las Vegas.

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Sunday, April 08, 2012

My Pre-Easter "Sunrise Service."

So, I was at the Grand Canyon, waiting for the sun to come up.

It did.

And I took pictures.

It was Good Friday morning - not Easter - but I was part of a pretty slick "sunrise service."

It was awesome.
After the sun peeped over the horizon, the golden light slowly "flowed" into the dark canyons.

It began to illuminate the stunning array of limestone colors.

It was worth getting up at 5:00am.

And stumbling in the moonlight down to the tram stop to catch the Sunrise Shuttle.

The National Park Service offers these vistas every day.

My buddy had gone online to snag a South Rim Kachina Lodge room and we had watched the sun settle slowly in the west the day before.

This is the fantastic view from the room.

We hopped on an electric-powered NPS bus to go to a great scenic overview.

Yes, it was called the "Sunset Special."

Actually there are several excellent photography spots and the driver made helpful suggestions as he assured us we would arrive in plenty of time.

My brand new $10 National Park Senior Pass meant I avoided having to pay the $25 entrance fee.

(Please click on the photos for more details.)

My Canon S90 came through again to capture some lifetime memories.

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