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Chapter 19 - BEALE STREET TO BILOXI

Our long drive from Chicago to Memphis was only the halfway point in a very long journey. We still had another long drive all the way down to Biloxi, Mississippi for our next show. We had a great day off in Memphis but now it was time to leave the ducks, the barbecue and Beale Street behind and start driving through the heart of blues country. We had a concert that night and even with an early departure we would probably arrive just a few hours before show time.

I was once again at my post in the front of the bus, comfortably strapped into The Chair, and I was soon enjoying an armchair view of the great Mississippi delta while sipping on some brutally strong coffee, which had been brewed up by Zoot prior to our departure. We left the home of Elvis, Sun records and Stax/Volt, which produced some of the greatest Rhythm & Blues ever recorded, and headed south, down to the roots of it all, down through Blues country. I was now ready for a private bus tour through the undisputed home of the great delta blues men like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. It would be rural two lane blacktop almost all the way to Biloxi but I didn't mind. This was a great way to see where it all got started.

We were playing at the Beau Rivage, a kind of transplanted Vegas style casino on a stretch of prime beach front property. It's a beautiful place but it's not what you'd expect to find in a place like Biloxi, Mississippi. In most respects it was not much different from any other casino, once you were inside. The typical casino chaos of patrons and staff, the din of ringing slot machine bells and flashing lights announcing another jackpot, was not really much different from the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. Still, the stage and show room at the Beau Rivage were a vast improvement over the rickety rotating stage we were on in Buffalo, much better catering than Buffalo too. But that's another story.

Each night, the shows were getting better and our show at the Beau Rivage was no exception. We were comfortable with the pacing, the tempos had all settled down, we were rhythmically tighter, Zoot's keyboard solos and Dan and Robert's guitar solos were pushing the edge and getting more creative with every performance. Robert's solo on "Crow," in particular, was getting an ovation from the audience every night. Dan's vocal chops were getting stronger and the vocals in general were absolutely killer. I gotta tell ya! I was really proud to be sitting behind my tubs and driving a band like this. It makes being on the road and dealing with Roadzilla more than worth it.

It seems like once the old "21 day theory" kicks in and you discard all the things you no longer need on the road, your focus on the music gets more intense. This was it, this was our lives for the time being and it all revolved around the music! And when the music reaches this level, you're more than willing to put up with life on the road. Dan says it best in a lyric phrase from one of his songs; "The audience is heavenly but the traveling is hell". Well, you forget all about the traveling every time you hit the stage.


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