7/7/09: Day 2 of C & M Record Pool in Mobile


Woke up to rain and thunderstorms that never seemed to let up. Ate breakfast at the Spot of Tea on Dauphin, and then made the rounds of Mobile record stores putting up Alex King posters and asking everyone about the Prichard song I had heard last night on WBLX. Nobody seemed to know who it was.
Driving down Michigan Avenue, I had hoped to inquire about the old Uptight Records building to see if there were still any vinyl records in it, but the building seemed boarded up and abandoned.
By the time I got out to the Prichard area, the sun had come out, and it was hot. In the late afternoon, I drove over to Fairhope to check out the Down By The Bay Cafe, but it had already closed for the day, and the Yardarm out on the pier wasn’t open either, so I headed back west on the old causeway to the Original Oyster House, which my mother and stepfather had enjoyed when they were in the area a year or so ago. From my table, I could see dark ominous stormclouds rising in the west behind the Mobile skyline, but it was still sunny here. I tried the grilled shrimp, which were very good indeed, and ended my dinner with a peanut butter chocolate chip pie, which was also very good.
Then, running late for the start of the conference, I began driving back west into Mobile, but as I headed up I-65 from I-10, I could see a funnel cloud begin to descend from the black line of clouds above the horizon. It apparently never touched down, but as I arrived at the Roxy, where the event was being held, the storm sirens began to go off. The conference was a couple of panel discussions, and a lot of performances, and I felt it went fairly well. DJ Sammy Sam played the Alex King single “What If I” just before the first panel, and although people weren’t familiar with it, I saw some heads bobbing to it. There were a lot of notable Mobile personalities present, including C-Nile, Kalinski, Hittman and Choppa T, who turned out to be the artist responsible for the song “Raised Off 45”, which was the Prichard anthem that had caught my attention the night before. The rain ended about the same time as the conference, but afterwards, the challenge was to find a coffee bar open. Serda’s had closed at 11 PM, but I found one in West Mobile called Biggby’s that was open until midnight. I recognized the place as a coffee house that had been called Beaner’s the last time I was in Mobile, but the girl behind the counter explained to me that the company changed the name when they began expanding into the southwest, as they had learned that “beaner” was an offensive term for Mexicans. Even after a cappuccino, I had no trouble sleeping.

6/25/09: RIP Michael Jackson


I checked out of the Kingsgate Resort, and ate breakfast at a First Watch near Florence, Kentucky so I would already be on that side of the river to head out for Louisville.
I arrived at the Coconuts Music at the Summit in Louisville a little too early, and they weren’t open yet, but there were already people waiting for the store to open so that they could buy Michael Jackson CDs because he had died yesterday. People couldn’t seem to talk of anything else.
At Ear X-Tacy, one of the local TV stations had set up cameras and was interviewing customers and store employes. Better Days Records had experienced a run on Michael Jackson albums and had completely run out. After a stop by the FYE in Jefferson Mall, I headed east toward Lexington.
The promotional runs to record stores there took longer than I had intended, so it was about 7 PM before I was able to head out toward Cincinnati. I decided to go straight to my hotel, The Westin, and get parked and checked in, which all went much easier than I had feared. The hotel sat directly across from Fountain Square, and there was some sort of festival going on in the square with food vendors, beer and a live band on stage. I walked over there and checked out the happenings for a minute, then ventured into the Rock Bottom Brewery for a late dinner. The hot weather had brought a large crowd into the nearby Graeter’s Ice Cream, but I decided I really didn’t want ice cream, so I walked around downtown for a bit, passing the Contemporary Art center and a trendy bar called Nada, stumbling upon a new restaurant called Bootsy’s, named for Bootsy Collins and featuring a cool exhibit of King Records and Bootsy Collins memorabilia. They were a sushi place however, and didn’t seem to have much of a dessert menu, so I kept walking until I came to a Starbucks that was still open, where I got a latte.
The bands were still playing in the square, and I thought about going to the Blue Wisp Jazz Club, but decided not to, and went upstairs to my room and to bed instead.

6/24/09: Cornhole in Cincinnati/Ocho Cinco Boxing/Elementz Showcase


Breakfast at the Half Day Cafe in the little village of Wyoming, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati. Then I started the day of going around to record stores, starting with the FYE stores in malls. At one mall, I entered a shop and found a Cincinnati Bengals Chad Ocho Cinco shirt, which I had to get for the upcoming NFL season. At the CD Warehouse on the westside, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of brightly painted wooden boxes with holes, decorated with Bengals, Steelers or Reds logos. Inside, I asked the store employes about them, and they said “You’re not from Cincinnati, are you?” They explained to me that they were “corn bag hole boards”, and that the game, somewhat like horseshoes, involved tossing bags filled with corn at the board. Hitting the board is worth so many points, and getting it in the hole is worth more.
Meanwhile, as I drove across the riverfront from west to east, nasty black clouds were developing over the hills to the south on the Kentucky side. Soon showers were developing everywhere, and when I got out by Eastgate Mall, the rains came. There was a Cheeseburger in Paradise location there, and I ate dinner there before going across the street to the mall to drop off posters at the last FYE store for the day.
Chad Ocho-Cinco had tweeted that he was sparring at a boxing gym at an elementary school near my hotel and was wanting people to come out and watch him box, but I was late for the showcase at Elementz, so I drove straight over to the center, in the Over The Rhine neighborhood. Elementz board members had been asked to be present, and therefore the crowd was standing room only and extremely hot in the basement auditorium where the event was being held. Many talented young people rapped and sang for the crowd for about two hours, and then the event was over. Abdullah met me briefly at Baba Budan’s Coffee House in the University of Cincinnati area, and we talked over cups of coffee, and then he had to leave, and I drove back to the hotel, watching the employes lock up the Hard Ta Knock hip-hop clothing shop across the street from the coffee bar as I drove past.

6/23/09: RIP Joe Lee Records/City View Tavern/A Fatburger in Cincinnati


Breakfast at Sunrise Cafe on East 86th in the Castleton neighborhood. Another extremely hot day, mostly spent going around to record stores with posters and promos, listening to my Naptown Soul compilations. I was saddened to see that Joe Lee Records on Clifton Street was gone. Record stores close all the time nowdays, but Joe Lee was an old institution in Indianapolis.
Including the mall FYE stores, working Indianapolis took all day, so it was around 6 PM by the time I got to Greenfield. I stopped at a Culver’s there to get a chocolate-peanut butter concrete, and after dropping off posters at the local Karma Records, I drove the state highway south to Shelbyville, where there was another Karma location. I just barely made it to the Greensburg Karma store before they closed for the evening, and then, with the sun still bright, I headed on I-74 toward Cincinnati.
I headed straight for Mount Adams, my favorite part of town, where I had read about a place called the City View Tavern, that was said to have the best hamburger in town. I found it with some difficulty, and discovered that it was a typical dive bar with a couple of differences. One, it had an outdoor deck, and two, it had one of the best views of downtown Cincinnati. Being what it was, however, the place had no frills-no bacon, no french fries, but I will say that the burger was big, good and juicy, and, of course the Cincinnati Reds game was on the TV screen. I watched the sun go down over the city skyline, and then later, I called my friend Abdullah from the Elementz Hip-Hop Youth Center, and he told me that the young people would be doing a showcase Thursday night, so I made plans to be there.
Still hungry, I drove out Montgomery Road to a Fatburger location, which was still open, and ordered a burger and fries. The food was good, but the air conditioner had broken down, and it was unbearably hot. After that, with little to do, I drove to my hotel the Marriott Kingsgate Conference Center, which turned out to be on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, and checked into my room.

6/21/09: Promoting Alex King in the Midwest


First day of a Select-O-Hits Music Distribution promotional run to promote the new Alex King album “Reincarnated”, as well as new albums from Juicy J, DJ Paul and B Hamp, whose single “Do The Ricky Bobby” has been heating up across the southeast. It was extremely hot as I drove up to Brownsville, and then along Highway 79 into Paris, Tennessee. At Murray, Kentucky, I stopped at Terrapin Station and Sunset Boulevard record stores, putting up posters, and then grabbed a latte from Fidalgo Bay Coffee before heading on to Madisonville. The Sam Goody there would not allow me to put up posters, so I headed on northward toward Owensboro, but I called the FYE music store there and found that they already had a large poster display, so I drove on into Evansville instead, checking into my room at the Fairfield Inn on the east side of town. I first drove around to the record stores, dealing with some violent storms that were popping up (and storm sirens going off), and then after leaving Joe’s Westside Records, I drove back out to the Tin Fish in Newburgh for dinner. They closed at 8 PM, and I just barely got in before they quit serving food, but I made it, and the seafood was good, although the atmosphere was more like a fast food place than I had expected. The rain was over, and I drove back downtown, looking for something to get into, but Main Street was largely quiet, and after stopping at a Starbucks near Eastland Mall, I drove back to the hotel.