Monroe, Louisiana is a coffee-challenged city, and that has always surprised me. Coffee bars have come and gone there over the years (mostly gone, sadly), and aside from a Starbucks on Forsythe Avenue with unusually-limited hours and The Daily Press convenience stores, there aren’t many options. So when I saw on Facebook that something called RoeLa Coffee Roasters had opened in downtown Monroe on DeSiard Street, I was thrilled beyond words. My exhilaration turned to bitter disappointment when I discovered that the DeSiard address is basically a roastery and is not usually open to the public (although it is sometimes open for special events). RoeLa turned out not to be a solution to Monroe’s coffee-by -the-cup crisis, but I sent a text to the company to see if there was any place to buy RoeLa coffee retail in Monroe. As it turned out, there was such a place, the former Tiger Mart convenience store at 18th and Forsythe, now called Now Save, and better yet, they were open until midnight. Whole bean coffee from a local roaster at a convenience store seemed a long-shot, but after browsing the store for a period of time, I found a bag of something called Talla Bena blend. (Talla Bena is a wide spot in the road south of Tallulah in Madison Parish). Since I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it until I got home to Memphis, I also bought a bottle of RoeLa Creola Iced Coffee, which proved to be delicious and refreshing. I made the Talla Bena blend coffee in the week after I returned home from Monroe, using my automatic pour-over machine from Bodum. The coffee had a smooth finish, with notes of caramel and chocolate, and was quite delicious. Since it is not available in any Memphis stores, I’ll have to order some more of it from their website.
Recent upload problems at Flickr forced me to find an alternative, so some of the more recent posts here at the Frontline have photos that are hosted on Google Photos instead. In some ways, I love the change. Google Photos is easy to use, and the sharing code doesn’t require tweaking to remove unwanted banners or watermarks as Flickr’s does. But one thing disappoints, namely that pictures cannot be embedded with different size options, and the one default that is available is fairly large. That doesn’t present a problem when dealing with ten photos or fewer in a post, but anything more than that and it begins to be annoying. So in these posts, only one photo will be visible, but clicking on it will open the gallery containing other photos from the event in question. Check it out, and let me know what you think. Thanks.
I had heard from friends in the TBC Brass Band that they were playing for some event at a place called Le Maison Creole in Harvey, a town on the West Bank, so when I left the Midsummer Mardi-Gras, I headed over there and caught up with them. I never could determine whether the event was a birthday party or a wedding reception, but the TBC band played for about 20 rousing minutes of second-lining and partying, and then headed back across the river to the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club for another gig at a party. Although it was nearly midnight, there was a fairly large crowd along Broad Street in front of the Zulu Club, and I was really quite excited. The Zulu organization, although called a social aid and pleasure club, functions more as a Mardi Gras krewe, and now I was getting to witness a party there for the first time. The band members started playing on the sidewalk in front of the club, and then we all marched into the clubhouse, which was already quite crowded with people. Perhaps because of the late hour, the TBC played a shorter set than they had at Harvey, but the crowd seemed excited nonetheless.
Although I was in St. Louis for a Recording Academy event, the event wasn’t until the evening, so I had the better part of the day to go around to local book stores and record stores, and St. Louis is really a dream come true to anyone who collects books or records. As the day progressed, I made my way around to Left Bank Books, the Book House, STL Books, Vintage Vinyl and Euclid Records, the last of which was only a couple of doors down from where our event was being held.
After I left Waterloo Records, I headed across the lake to South Austin, and as it was the hottest afternoon yet, when I saw Sandy’s Frozen Custard, I stopped there for a custard, which was very good and refreshing. I learned that Sandy’s was one of the first fast-food restaurants in Austin, having been opened in 1946 on the location where it still stands, founded by a family who had moved to Austin from the Midwest.
The New Breed Brass Band in one of New Orleans’ youngest bands, founded in 2012 by young men who had played in various high-school bands around New Orleans. Despite their youthfulness, they are accomplished musicians, and are gaining a following around the city.
The band Sons of Mudboy AKA Three-Legged Dog is the logical outgrowth of the super Memphis group Mudboy and the Neutrons, which I have discussed at length in the past. Sons of Mudboy consists of Steve Selvidge, Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson and Paul Taylor, and as such was the perfect group to close out Tuesday night’s celebration of the life and work of Steve’s dad Sid Selvidge. The band played an acoustic set, which was followed by a fairly lengthy documentary about Sid Selvidge in which the late singer-songwriter discussed the impact of Furry Lewis and Black culture on his music, and also where he discussed the origins of the name Mudboy and the Neutrons. Then the band Son of Mudboy came back out and closed out this most important night of Memphis music with a final electric set.
By the time I got back to the Hilton, the rain was coming down heavily, so I decided to drive over to the Bayside Center and do some shopping, which, I soon discovered was a mistake. Not only did it cost $10 to park the car, but I got drenched to the bone, because the majority of the Bayside Center is roofless, in keeping with the modern trend toward “lifestyle centers” rather than malls. Neverthless, I found a place to get another cortadito, and eventually the rain lessened enough that I could walk out to the bayside promenade. When it isn’t raining, the Bayside Center is worth a visit, with a considerable array of shops and restaurants, including Miami’s Hard Rock Cafe.