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Old 01-21-11, 10:24 AM   #1
sippy
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Default Memphis Beale St.

Hey Folks!

So we're heading down to Memphis a couple of weeks to be a part of the International Blues Challenge. I'm still waiting on emails back from Memphis Tourism and the Beale St. real estate board (american version of a BIA?).

My question: we're looking to do walkabouts on Beale St. but were wondering if there are any by-law restrictions anyone has encountered there? Do you need a permit for busking on Beale? Are we likely to be hassled for doing walkabouts? We're more so looking for exposure and not likely to be hatting.

As always, any help or words of wisdom are appreciated!
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Old 01-24-11, 10:38 AM   #2
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I hear that there is a permit of a 100 bucks a week. Project dynamite told me about it
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Old 01-24-11, 12:46 PM   #3
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Thanks for the heads up!
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Old 01-26-11, 02:33 AM   #4
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I was there for Memphis in May several years ago, and it was pretty easy...Stop at Silky's Bar and talk to Silky, he may let you work inside, they have this huge backyard with goats...great parties!
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Old 01-26-11, 10:07 AM   #5
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Sweet! I'll check it out, thanks!!!!
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Old 01-26-11, 10:21 AM   #6
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If you get hussled - go to their management office, they have some sort of "Beale street management" in the end of the street in front of the little park on the 2d floor and talk to them about rules and regulations, and check if they require a permit nowadays - I do not think you need one to work for tips, but may be something changed. They also run festivals and concerts in the park, and you do need to be on the list of performers to be in a festival.
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Old 02-14-11, 10:51 AM   #7
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Default Trip Summary to Memphis and Graceland

I thought I would update everyone on how our trip went to Beale and Graceland: You can see photos on our facebook and website. But here's a summary or the trip! You can read it on our website if you have trouble reading it here: www.stiltguys.com

Over 3,000 KM’s Round trip and 4 Long Legs…

The Silt Guys Take Memphis By Storm

The Stilt Guys first visit to Memphis was nothing short of incredible: BBQ, Blues, Elvis, Southern Hospitality and more! We were told that Memphis would love us, but we never could have imagined the impact we would have in one short weekend at the International Blues Challenge and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards. We went down to showcase our Walkabout act; promote Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee, Canada South Blues Society, and Bluesfest International as the Canada South Blues Museum received a historical preservation award in Memphis for being Canada’s only Blues Museum. As a living Blues Museum, the inductees being added to the Museum will put on a full live show as part of the ceremony. As Ambassadors of our region in Ontario, we wanted to show Memphis how Canada puts on a party!
Our arrival into Memphis came at about 2 a.m. local time, and fell just short of a 12-hour drive. We were noticeably tired having navigated our way through one of the worst snowstorms of the last few years, but encountered a smooth drive from Southern Ohio onward. Our arrival at the Plantation Oaks hotel in Millington, TN was filled with Southern Hospitality. They had expected us to arrive late due to the weather and said they would keep breakfast on late for us in the morning since we would need the sleep. Before relinquishing consciousness, Mark noticed an open Gideon Bible on the desk of our room and decided to open a random page and point a finger to a passage. His finger confidently fell on Psalm 48:4 which read “For behold, the kings assembled, they passed by together.” We couldn’t help but burst out laughing thinking that it was foreshadowing the arrival of our “9’ Elvis” and “Long, Tall Elvis” characters to Beale St. walking side by side.
The morning of our first full day in Memphis was a little slow to start, but the extra hour from the time zone change gave us a slight edge on making the most of the day. It was an unusually cool day for Tennessee, but not unusual for the surrounding states experiencing a cool winter. We drove into the downtown core and were struck by the beauty of the city. After passing through a struggling area in North Memphis, we began to pass through historic buildings, horse drawn carriages for downtown tours and statues of Blues artists who had shaped the city with the notes of their legacy. We decided to take a walk to gain our bearings, and were quickly in the threshold of a street filled with neon lights, facades of prewar buildings, and Rhythm & Blues melodies filling the street. We weren’t even able to make it past the first store front without friendly faces of Windsor Bluesfest friends pulling us into B.B. Kings for our first taste of a local Wheat beer known as Blue Moon, and the first contestants of the Blues Challenge rocking the joint with their hypnotic sounds. The place was packed and it was barely past noon.
We finally made it through a tour of the full strip, and decided our Hockey Hooligans needed to mark the arrival of the Canada’s Tall Boys. We dawned our gear, and took to the street. We passed by a local bar near Beale called the Kooky Canuck. Owned by a Canadian born, now native of Memphis, we were greeted with shocked faces and tons of camera flashes. We made our triumphant inaugural walk of Beale and were eventually chased down by the owner of the Kooky Canuck who invited us back to the restaurant for dinner and Molson’s- an offer no Canadian could pass up. We all got acquainted, and he treated us to some southern cooking from his menu, which blends Canadian and Southern food favorites in a setting paying homage to Canadian culture without being cheeky or tacky. It was remarkably elegant and very friendly! The staff brought out some of their infamous egg rolls, fried green tomatoes, and fried catfish. The owner then expressed his interest in bringing us back to Memphis on some of the Canadian Holidays to bring some Canadian Culture to the events happening around Beale in the summer months.
After the heaping portions of food, we had to fight the urge to nap and get our legs back on for the Blues Guys turn to play the streets. The street was getting busier (despite cold temperatures) and music was now blasting through the street. It wasn’t hard finding something to dance to, but we were stopped for upwards of a half hour at a time from steady camera flashes and people posing with us. We began attracting small crowds around us, and even got some of the locals dancing in the streets along with some friends from our Blues fests in Canada who we’ve met through the years. After a few more hours of popping in and out of clubs, hundreds of pictures and dancing our way downhill and up the cobblestone street, we headed back to our “Canadian Embassy” at the Kooky Canuck for some downtime before driving back to the bar. We felt much more at ease having a piece of our homeland to meet at just off Beale.
A few hours sleep and we were back on Friday morning for another day on Beale. We had heard warnings of coming rain for the afternoon and evening. Before leaving our hotel, we wanted to thank the hotel for their hospitality by posing for photos at our temporary home with the Plantation Oaks Hotel staff and friends. Our Elvis characters put on their gear and our hosts at the hotel could not have been more pleased we took the time to show them what we do. It would have been nice to take it easy, but Beale was calling our names. We kept an eye on the skies as we did site checks at the venues for the awards and Blues Challenge finals to introduce ourselves and be sure that our “personalities” would fit under their ceilings. The skies were only trickling, so we decided it was “the Kings” turn to return to Beale. We couldn’t have imagined the reaction from the city. We were stopping traffic from cars pausing to take pictures, people running into the streets and small crowds of onlookers turning into a street dance party around us.
Locals, bar staff of Beale and more came up to find out who we were and quickly became fixtures on the street. We were even greeted by police and security, while Memphis Police hastily moved along a young guitarist busking on the street. The only resistance we encountered was a security guard at the Fed Ex forum who warmly came up and talked to us as we approached the arena. We acknowledged his hovering as a sign not to cross the line where the street turns into the arena grounds, and moved along having our pictures taken as we went.
As we stopped to take a break before a late shift, the skies opened up and rain poured down. We waited patiently through our dinner break and after a couple of hours of steady rainfall, decided it wasn’t safe to do any further shifts that night. But were quickly spotted by a local bar owner and invited in for a drink. He wanted to know more about us and said that he wanted to get in contact with us about bringing us down for “Memphis in May.” A few weeks of Major festivals in the city, drawing tens of thousands of tourists to the city daily. We gave him the low-down on the Tall Boys, and then made our tour up and down the street taking in acts from all over the world, including Windsor’s own contestants and a 17 year old performing solo. His music had the club at a standstill as the soul and power of his music shocked the room and earned a standing ovation. After getting recognized in a few different bars, we made some more new friends who shared their stories about Beale, life in Memphis, and the Blues.
On our late night mission to find the best Gumbo on Beale, “Joe” stopped us. A local who was down on his luck, “Joe” intrigued us by saying he’d trade jokes about Canada for jokes about Memphis. He then challenged us, by saying if he could guess the number we were thinking of, we’d give him enough money for a coffee. After picking a number, he asked us to go through a few mathematical steps with that number in our head. He was using a mentalist strategy. “OK Joe, you’ve got our attention.” After giving us the final steps, he dropped a hat line saying, and secured our agreement to the change for a coffee before revealing the number. We agreed, and he guessed both of our numbers without hesitation. This man was a true storyteller and busker in the truest sense of the words. We made good on our arrangement and continued down Beale to rendezvous with out hometown friends to share stories and laughs at Alfred’s on Beale.
Day 3 was nothing short of a shock. We made our way to the hotel for the Blues Awards and were mystified by all the comments by people in the streets complimenting us on our picture. We soon found out that we had made the front page of a local paper and had become Memphis celebrities over night. Our momentum increased as we burst into a room filled with Blues legends, agents, producers, festival organizers, press and the like as the Canada South Blues Society representatives took the stage to accept their Historical Preservation Award. Gasps turned to laughter, and laughter to roaring applause within a matter of seconds as the room collectively realized whom we were. The Blues Guys were showing the world that Canada does Blues in a BIG WAY! We were asked by the MC to stay by the stage throughout the rest of the awards, and became the hit of the ceremony and iconic image the world will take away from this year’s Blues Foundation Awards.
The finals for the IBC began in the early afternoon at the Orpheum theatre (roughly one block from the main strip of bars on Beale. Delegates, festival organizers, Musicians, and Blues fans from around the world all flooded the auditorium of the late 19th century architectural masterpiece. A theatre that has been the home of many musical greats (and touring theatre shows) only steps from the river shore. The theatre was buzzing with anticipation as finalists were preparing themselves backstage to play to a packed house and what better way to warm up the crowd then to have two 9’ tall Blues Guys roaming the lobby and getting people ready to dance. Camera flashes from patrons and theatre staff alike came from all directions and we were happy to oblige with some trademark posing and taking as man pictures with the guests as we could before the auditorium door closed. We could’ve stay for hours with the energy happening in that one room, but our legs were on a mission.
With no time to lose, we jumped in the car and headed over to Graceland. We weren’t able to get in touch with a PR rep. for the landmark before our arrival, but got spoke with the staff on where our larger then life “Elvi” would be permitted. We were limited to the outside wall and gate area, which we respectfully agreed and got dressed. The walk along the wall of the compound took much longer than expected since traffic almost came to a standstill. Camera phones, still cameras and video cameras all poked out from windows as they got their shot. And a small parking lot started in a lane of Elvis Pressley Boulevard as locals and tourists all asked to take pictures with us. A few hundred pictures later (that we could count) we made it to the gate and took turns getting pictures. A smiling security guard then poked out from around the gate and offered to take pictures of the both of us together. The guard was incredibly accommodating and had a few laughs at our interpretation of the icon. On back to the car, but not before even more pictures and passers-by sharing stories, comparing dance moves with us, and asking who we were and where we were from.
Before returning for our evening shift, we decided to take a look through some of the shops at a normal height and again were recognized and exchanged stories about Canada for stories about Memphis. We were becoming more and more at home on the street and Memphis’ unique culture. Long time natives like “Big John”, “Joe”, Rudy the Street Musician, and “Lady” (a stray dog who’s been native to Beale St. welcoming anyone to Beale with a friendly tale wag and the nudge of a cold nose) had welcomed us into their world and each took time to chat with us with the warmest southern charm and humor. One of the staff of a store on the street chose which characters she wanted to see for our evening shift, since we couldn’t decide. “Detroit Dave” and “Tiny Blues” suited up, and Beale was once again in our hands.
A mix of local regulars and Blues fans who had made Beale their new home for the week all made their way to Juke Joints, clubs, and Blues halls that have seen many busy Saturday nights over the years. The Blues mixed with a more modern sound as local bands playing Pop hits with the familiar sound of Blues were filling the street. We dances to everything from “Foot Loose”, Black Eyed Peas, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and more. The weather was thankfully slightly milder and we were able to perform until nearly midnight in our Swan Song Walkabout. The energy of the street had overtaken us again, and the time passed far too quickly. We took the opportunity to thank as many of our new friends for their hospitality as we passed and reassured them that we would be back soon! The siren song of the city had overtaken us and nothing could keep us away for long. With the last photo snapped and the bars filling up, we took one last look up and down Beale’s neon fluorescent glow and made our way back to the car to pack up with gear one last time.
The next morning would bring a long trip North through the rolling hills of Kentucky and bumpy Interstate through Ohio and Michigan (whom was still trying to dig out from the snow storm we had too recently escaped and were working to remove another recent snowfall). We stopped early for some supplies to last us the trip and settled in for a long ride. Our next pit stop did not happen for nearly two states, and it was only to get a fresh coffee for the last stretch. But 11 hours after our initial departure, we could see the glowing lights of the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor and Detroit. We decided to take the tunnel since it surfaces directly downtown, and we could feel the moment that we passed the line which separates the American/Canadian boundaries of the Detroit River. We were home at last and stepped foot on Canadian soil before midnight (nearly 12 hours after we first sat in the car). Our journey had concluded for the evening and it was time for a brief night’s sleep before one last leg of the journey: the trains ride home for Tiny to Toronto.
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Old 02-14-11, 11:28 AM   #8
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I have a sneaking suspicion Beale St is an excellent untapped resource. They call May "Festival Month" because they have a huge festival every weekend in a park adjacent to Beale St.

May is probably a good time to check it out if you have nothing else going on. I know that I had the info on the management office somewhere but at this moment I cannot seem to find it. Irina's info is correct. The office is across from the park - the one with the outdoor stage.

The street seems to be run by the Beale St Flippers - they give you the run around but are fairly cool about it.

From what I remember management told us a pass is $150 per week. Did not have the pass when we attempted our show and we were shut down within 10 minutes (however we had a large crowd already). We arranged to get a pass for the next night but it was rained out. Had to leave town and never found out if it was worth it.

If anyone busks Beale St please post your results here! Would love to hear how it is. Also - eat breakfast at Brother Junipers - you will be impressed.
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Old 02-14-11, 11:34 AM   #9
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UCO when did I tell you about Beale? And who are you?!
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Old 02-14-11, 11:35 AM   #10
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I wouldn't suggest trying to Busk without a permit and, during May, it sounds as though the streets may be too packed to do an actual show. They did bust a guy busking with his guitar right in front of us. We stuck mainly to walkabouts for exposure (which doesn't usually make a lot of tips) so they didn't bother us.

There is a constant police presence on Beale... So trying to do a show under the radar would likely be impossible haha.
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Old 02-14-11, 11:38 AM   #11
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The police only asked to see our permit - once we found the management team they said it would be fine with a permit.

They were also the ones that suggested we come out during May.
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Old 02-14-11, 12:05 PM   #12
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We're working on getting a contract to get back down there in May. Apparently the crowds are HUGE! Tens of Thousands of people per day! So definitely a great opportunity to put on a show! (I just meant that if the streets are as packed as they say, it could be hard to clear enough space for a show). But I know you guys have more than enough experience working festivals with high traffic... If we are able to get down there again in May, I'll let ya know!
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Old 02-15-11, 06:25 AM   #13
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We're passing through Memphis in late April/early May - can you let me know how to find the management team? You know our big rig, we have to get advance permission or we piss people off

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Old 02-15-11, 06:32 PM   #14
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It took a little digging - but I believe this is the contact info:

Performa Entertainment Real Estate
203 Beale Street, Suite 300
Memphis, TN 38103
901-526-0115 phone
901-526-0125 fax

I'm really eager to hear how this pitch works out so please be so kind as to keep us all updated or at the very least send me a message with how it went down.

Good luck Angels and everyone else!
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Old 02-16-11, 10:38 PM   #15
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Thanks and I will report back!
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