stories from memphis
Date sent: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 12:02:43 +1000
Subject: JBEL: jeff in memphis
I was working in the lab at scool on Monday and decided to check my mail (I had signed up for this mailing list only last week) and much to my surprise found out that Jeff Buckley was playing in Memphis that night. It was 4 pm, and I had no idea what time he was going to play, but I called my friend Jimmie, and he and I decided to take the risk of driving to Memphis and getting there before he quit playing. We thought it would be worth it even if we only got to hear the last chorus of his last song. We left Birmingham at 5:11 pm and got to Barrister's at 9:30 pm, and luckily there was an opening band who hadn't even started playing. Jimmie and I sat at the bar right in front of the stage. When we got there, only about 8 people were there. The opening act was different but pretty good - they seemed to be heavily influenced by King Crimson. I think the name of the band was Seven Four Slide. I talked to their guitarist Ben and his ex-girlfriend Melanie. They were very nice. I think Jeff started playing around 11:30. I had never heard him before live. He was incredible. His voice is so amazing. He played Grace, Mojo Pin, Last Goodbye, and some new songs. I was completely mesmerized throughout the entire show, and only came out of my trance when he would joke about something. He sang a bit from the song "Nicky" from Purple Rain. We were yelling the lyrics out to him because he couldn't remember them all. It was great. He played for about an hour and a half. After the show he hung out talking to everyone. Jimmie and I stayed at the bar until it closed at three. Jimmie, Jeff, one other guy, and I were the only ones left at the bar besides Kevin, the owner, and Andy, the bartender (both are really nice guys). We listened to Led Zeppelin on the juke box, and I watched while the guys played pool. Jeff beat Jimmie twice. As a prize for winning, Jimmie gave Jeff a copy of his band's tape (the suburban love junkies). Jeff seemed sincerely appreciative about receiving it. Then Kevin and Andy kindly kicked the four of us out of the bar, and we followed Jeff in his white Dodge Neon to the lamplighter where he was supposed to meet some friends. The lamplighter was closed, so we said goodnight to Jeff and went to find a place to stay the night. We were so wide awake that instead we ended up driving back to Birmingham. We are going back next week, and I highly recommend that anyone in the vicinity of Memphis make it to one, if not all, of the rest of his shows at Barrister's. If I were a millionaire, I would send all of you plane tickets (NY, Connecticut, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, etc.), but unfortunately all I can send you are brief descriptions of the shows. Until next week ...
Subject: JBEL: Memphis, Part II
It was not a dream.
After borrowing a car and a microcassette recorder; after packing the camera and the CDs; after rounding up my friends -- we left for Memphis yesterday at 4:30 PM. We weren't sure that we would be able to get into the bar, but we came anyway. Even if I couldn't get in, standing outside and listening would suffice, right?
We got to Memphis at around 7:30 and finally found the place ( Barristers') in a dark alley off of Second and Jefferson. When we approached the place, I saw a thin guy with a guitar walking in, and my heart started to race. I approached the figure, and to my dismay I discovered that the figure was just some guy named Jake of John or some other "J" name. Anyway, I introduced myself, and we talked for a minute. I was surprised when he said, "My band goes on at nine o'clock, and that other guy, Jeff, goes on at ten thirty."
"That other guy, Jeff?"
The man did not even know who Jeff was. It was really odd to hear him say "Jeff" with no "Buckley" attached. Yes, odd.
We went inside, and the owner just asked us for five dollars. No ID check, nothing like that at all. Nobody at all was there. The place had maybe four other people in it. I was hoping it would stay that way, too. We hung around for about five minutes, then we went to Beale Street and ate some barbeque, and then we came back at nine to find that the opening band had already started.
I didn't like the opening band, so I went outside to get some air. I saw the owner of the place, and I must've talked to him for an hour and a half. We talked about the internet (he posted the announcement on AOL) and how effective it was for this sort of thing, and we talked about Jeff a whole lot. It was really neat to talk to someone who seemed to know Jeff personally, I must say.
Barristers' advertised this show, so people started flowing in at about ten o'clock. I'd say there were about 75 people there altogether, though I'm not sure how accurate that estimate is. Anyway, the owner and I were the only ones standing outside when Jeff pulled up. He drove up in a white Neon at about ten-thirty, and got his guitar and amp out of his trunk. I asked him if he needed a hand, and he said no. I was disappointed, but I knew I'd see him again. He threw his things onstage and then came back outside to move his car. When he came back in, I introduced myself, and we talked for about five minutes. I asked him if I could tape the show, and he said "No, no, no, please don't... well, okay." We talked for just a few more minutes, and I asked if I could get some autographs after the show. He said "Sure, Doug," and then went inside. A few seconds later, he came outside and asked me not to tape the show, but said that it was lovely for me to ask. He said that it was just too dangerous, and started telling some story about the British mafia and bootlegging. I was disappointed that he didn't want me to tape the show, but I just couldn't find it in my heart to press the record button afterward. He asked me not to -- I wasn't going to.
He went inside, and even though the place was relatively crowded, no one approached him at all. Either no one knew who he was (that wasn't the case), or nobody had the guts to approach him. He went over to the pool table and began to play pool with a guy I had met earlier in the night, so I followed and watched. The guy he was playing was really bad, so about halfway through the game, I asked Jeff if I could have next game. He said an emphatic "Yes," I guess because the other guy was just so bad. They finished up (Jeff won), I put in 50 cents and Jeff the remaining 25, and Jeff racked the balls up. I won't tell you the play by play, but I won the first game, Jeff the second, and I the third. I didn't quite know what to do. I beat Jeff Buckley in pool. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Who knows. Anyway, we talked some more and then he went onstage. I was really the only one to talk to him, strangely enough. I didn't hover or anything, I was just friendly. He is really very approachable.
He popped onstage at about 11:15, tuned up, and launched into the most amazing version of "Grace" that I have ever heard. It was just him and his guitar, of course, so that made it even better. He cracked a few notes (not the really high ones, though), and afterward told us all about how smoking will make your voice "suck." He proceeded to play (I don't know about the titles of the new songs, but I'll take a guess) "The Sky is a Landfill," "Witch's (????something)," and a GORGEOUS version of "Morning Theft." That song was by far the best of the night.
After that, it was time for "Last Goodbye," and then he went into a really long Prince (back when he was Prince) imitation, and he talked about "Purple Rain" a whole lot. It was quite funny, but then he brought us back into our trance with "Mojo Pin." He finished off the set with a song I hadn't heard before, but I think it might have been called "Wild is the Wind." It was wonderful...the whole show was beautiful and it was my first.
After the show, one or two people approached him asking for pictures , but he asked them not to photograph him. After they left, I asked him for one autograph, but he signed (defaced is the word) the covers of "Grace," "Live at Sin-e," and "Live at the Bataclan." On "Bataclan," he signed it "Le AAARGH!" He drew sunglasses on his picture on "Grace," and signed "Take me with u!" I was thrilled. We talked for just a second more; about the book I was keeping my CD covers in -- Hume's "Dialogues on Natural Religion," and then I left. He had remembered my name, thank goodness, and as I left he said, "Catch you later, Doug." He will. Next week, hopefully.
You need to come to this place. There's no carding for entrance or at the bar, and though it may be quite a trip; it will be worth the mileage. He only played about an hour and a half, but I would have driven three times as far as I did just to hear him. I would have driven 10 times as far if someone had told me that I would get to meet him and to play pool with him. The show was short but beautiful, and I'd love to get it on tape next time, or at least get some pictures if he'll allow them. If you're going to boot the show, ask him first. Don't boot it if he doesn't want you to -- don't take what isn't yours to take.
I hope to see some of you there next Monday. Let me know if you plan on coming, and maybe we can meet up there. Come. It's more than worth the gas money.
If there's anything I left out (I doubt it, considering the length of this post), just mail me and I'll fill you in.
Rock on, etc.
-Doug "I beat Jeff in pool" Jennings
Doug Jennings <jenninda@ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu
picture taken from live cd cover with 'Grace'
5355 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, TN 38117
If you are a big meat fan, then Buckley's will certainly treat your taste buds. Buckley's specializes in beef filets, and they do a good job. They also have one of the most extensive beer lists I have ssen in this city, with a huge variety of domestic and imported brands from which to choose. Another great treat at Buckley's are the butter garlic potatoes. In addition to filets, Buckley's also serves a few chicken dishes and a good assortment of appatizers and pastas. All of the entres are reasonably priced and dinner will run around $10 per person. Buckley's in open for dinner seven days a week. There is a full bar. Credit cards are accepted but checks are not. Parking can fill up fast, so you may want to dine early here.
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