Pictures and thoughts from a Memphis Musician's Wife

Posts tagged ‘Jeremy Powell’

Friendships build the best relationships: My Prince Charming

My husband and I met on Beale Street in October of 2010. I was just coming back to town from South Carolina to basically start my life over. I went down to Beale to hang out because I needed the music and wanted to try to look for a job. I met Jeremy in passing and thought he was a drummer for a long time. That was until the day we really met each other.

On October 24, 2010, I was on Beale Street to meet some guy for a lunch date. He stood me up because it was raining. I was standing in Handy Park when Jeremy came walking through, soaked. I called out his name, and he hugged me when he walked over. He didn’t say much. He walked me over to the wall at the front of the park, and we just started talking. He held me close to him, letting me talk away. People would walk up to us and tell us how cute we were together. We weren’t even a “couple” yet. LOL. That day, we spent hours talking to each other, walking on the river, talking more. I felt like I could trust him with anything, my deepest darkest secrets. He didn’t judge me. He just smiled, held my hand tighter, pulled me closer, and would kiss me gently from time to time. It was like something out of a movie. Around 4 am, we ended up at Denny’s. We ate breakfast, and Jeremy asked me how I was getting home. I had no car at the time, and I was going to have to wait another two hours for the bus. I asked him to walk me to the bus terminal, but he refused. He wasn’t going to leave me alone at the terminal for hours. He caught a cab and took me to his house.

Jeremy was living with his mom at the time, and we snuck into the house. We spent the next day together on Beale. And the next. We couldn’t leave each other. We got our own place, continuing to build on our friendship and relationship. It was different than any relationship I’d been in. We trusted each other. We loved each other. We appreciated each other. I could tell him anything about me, and he refused to judge me. Within a few weeks, we knew our connection was permanent. We were meant for each other. He was the one who suggested that we get married.

11 months to the day after we started dating, we were married. September 24, 2011. No, our relationship has not been all peaches and cream, but I can’t imagine my life without my husband, my best friend, my lover, my partner, my business partner. Our lives are together, which is something you don’t find in most relationships today. I am truly blessed to have found my true Prince Charming, Jeremy Powell.

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Just Be Good to Me

Suavo J. feat. Mr. 88 and the Bones with Sweet Angel singing “Just Be Good to Me” at the 2013 National Bikers Roundup in Tunica, MS

A Day in Our Shoes

For three years now, I have been a part of a unique world of people. I was raised in Memphis, but I was never really aware of the live music scene around town. When I was younger, I sang in the choir, played piano, and taught myself how to play the clarinet. My mom always had several genres of music playing around the house, so I was exposed to all types of music. Classical always had a very special place in my heart, though. I loved the sound of a full orchestra, how that orchestra came together to make one song a magical experience for the audience. The right piece could invoke so many types of emotions without a word ever being sung.  It was not until I met my husband that I got exposed to the true life of the everyday professional musician. 

When Jeremy and I began dating, he played at a few different venues on Beale Street. Most of these venues (smaller bars and outside venues) pay the musicians a small percentage of nightly bar sales and the musicians are responsible for gathering tips to pay themselves. When you think about Beale Street, you think, “It shouldn’t be that hard to make money down there. Thousands of people pass through Beale Street every week.” Well, when you are relying on those tourists to pay you on their own, combined with the competition for money from the other 16 venues on the street, it can be hard to make a living. Many tourists come to Memphis because they are trying to save money. They want an affordable vacation. Keep in mind, whatever tips are made are split 3-6 ways, depending on the size of the band. Tipping $1 to a 4 piece band gives each of them .25 cents. So, in order to make a decent living as a musician in Memphis, it is a must that you play with more than one band.  Jeremy has played with the Juke Joint Allstars, Vince Johnson and the Plantation Allstars, the Memphis Bluesmasters, Darrell Wilson and the Soul Outsiders, the Eric Hughes Band, Carl Sims, the Ghost Town Blues Band, and Darren Jay and the Delta Souls, just to name a few. He also fronts of his own band with Suavo, which is taking off now.  You may think that is a lot of music to learn, and you would be correct, but it is a must if you are striving to make it doing nothing but playing music.

It is a rough life. That is for sure. There are late nights and long days. Sometimes Jeremy will have 3 gigs in one day, starting around lunch time and playing until 1 or 2 am. If I was not as involved with his career as I am, I would probably never see him.  On weeks when his daughter is with us, it is even more stressful. We wake up around 8-9 am when she is home and 10 am or later when she is not.  We usually grab breakfast, get dressed for the day, and are out of our house by 1-2 pm. On some days, Jeremy starts playing one gig at 1 pm, breaks his equipment down to go to the next gig at 3, and will have another gig around 8 or 9 pm. We don’t leave Beale Street most nights until 1 or 2 am. Some nights it has been 3 or 4 am. Some gigs give a guarantee pay to the bands, although that gets split and is normally barely enough to cover daily expenses. It is almost impossible to save money with what you make on one gig. You have to play several to pad the rest of the income you have coming in. Several times out of the week, a band will call Jeremy to fill in for someone who couldn’t make it to the gig. Normally, there is no refusing a gig. We can’t afford not to go, although some days and nights I have seen musicians play for 4-5 hours and walk out with less than $5 in their pocket. It can be rough. They are right when they say you truly have to love music and have a passion for it to do what the musicians I know do. I wish everyone who came to Beale Street could see just one day in the life of one of the young musicians trying to earn a living on Beale Street through their eyes. It would open so many eyes. 

Florida Road Trip: Part 4 Sunday Night

It was nice being able to walk just a few yards to where Jeremy played. We got everything set up and the sound check done and went to eat. Paradise Bar and Grill fed us well. Jeremy ordered some shrimp to tide himself over until the end of the gig, and they began to play. The crowd slowly filled the small beach of picnic tables as the band filled the air. The first set was pretty uneventful.

The band took a break, and there was a woman with an adorable little boy standing at the side of the stage. They asked me if they could go speak to Darren, and i shooed them on up. The little boy’s name was Gavin, and he was absolutely entranced by the guitar. He had the cutest little green eyes and blonde hair mixed with his surfer shorts and tanned skin, a true Florida baby. He’d been there the night before and made his family come back on Sunday so he could hear the band again. Darren gave him a guitar pick and spoke with him for a little while, and we milled around for their break.

This is Gavin, the budding Blues guitarist

This is Gavin, the budding Blues guitarist

Darren asked me to take a lot of pictures that day, so I was shooting up a storm. I got some really great shots, and some awesome footage! I was so excited about that. Darren and Jeremy are both so animated, and I love to catch Brian, the drummer when he is really feeling the music. I smiled every time I would snap a shot, especially the shots I got of Jeremy during one of his solos.

Darren called me up to the stage and asked me to place a chair next to the stage so Gavin could sit and watch the band up close and personal. He was so excited when I asked him if he wanted to sit by the stage. He sat and watched the rest of the show right there. Image

The crowd danced. The kids played. The boats docked. It was a perfect, although cloudy day when the played. The gig went without a hitch, and we enjoyed dinner afterward as I showed Darren and Brian the pictures I took of them that day.

Darren Jay and Mr. 88 put on a show!

Darren Jay and Mr. 88 put on a show!

Hanging out listening to the band

Hanging out listening to the band

Dancing away to Darren Jay and the Delta Souls

Dancing away to Darren Jay and the Delta Souls

We went back to our room, making a few calls to see if Jeremy would need to be in town to work the next day or not. We wanted to stay just a little longer, but with what we spent, we really couldn’t afford too. We decided to go ahead and get on the road. We drove all night to get home. It was an uneventful drive, and as soon as we got home, we were back to real life and real heat. All in all, it was a good trip. I can’t wait to go back!

Living a Dream: My Beale Street

It’s funny. Living in Memphis, growing up around the outer parts of the area, I never really knew about the Beale Street Legacy. As many times as I went to Beale Street when I was younger, I never really stopped and listened to the live music. I was so absorbed in the people, my friends, and the “club” that I failed to see the real Beale Street. After I moved back to Memphis, I began dating and married an amazing musician. He showed me a side of music I had never seen before. Just listening to the Blues and Soul that came out of the clubs he was playing in was life changing. I had to stay. Some people see Beale as a burden and a horrible place. I see it as a second home with an extended family. Our little girl has pretty much grown up there, singing on the various stages, playing drums, and playing a little trumpet (like her old friend Rudy Williams and her daddy). The musicians that play there every single day sometimes get jaded to the honor that they have because they are blessed too play there every day. People come to Beale Street with dreams of playing on a stage on Beale, playing that Southern Blues. My husband does it every day, in all different clubs on the street (there are only about 3 or 4 venues he has not played in on the street). I have been in the presence of great artists and musicians as if they were family. I get to live a dream. It may not be everyone’s dream, and many people do not understand my desire to just be a supporter, but it is my dream. If you ever come to Beale Street, look for what I see in Beale. Look for the real music, not just the loud noise. Look for the young musicians who are really standing out, the ones you will see all over the world in the future. Support them. Let their music support you. That is their gift to you. Don’t go to Beale just too get drunk or party. Let the music move you. Then, you will see my Beale Street.

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Having fun!!!

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Proud of MY GUYS!!!

Suavo J. ft Mr. 88 and the Bones at Havana Mix Cigar Lounge

I have been playing personal assistant and unofficial manager to a couple of bands for a few years now. I never had that official title until Jeremy and Suavo formed Suavo J. ft Mr. 88 and the Bones. I know…i know…it’s a long name…but it’s fitting…it’s unique…and you can always just call them the Bones if you can’t remember it all. LOL.

In November, the guys started playing their first gigs at Havana Mix Cigar Lounge. It is a small, cozy atmosphere with a nice crowd. I have been trying to get them booked at other places, and the Gorilla Battle of the Bands at the New Daisy was available for the guys to compete in. In the semifinals, the band played their hearts out. The only fans who were there were myself, a fellow musician, and our 3 year old nephew, Buddy. They went about half way through the rest of the bands, and ended up passing through in 2nd place. They won the entire crowd over, from the young crowd to the parents. Everyone seemed impressed with them. It made me proud.

The finals came around December 29, 2012. Once again, unfortunately, not many of our fans were able to make it to the show. The New Daisy was packed, however, Jeremy’s mom and aunt made it to see his first performance ever. They were so proud, The guys got a huge applause after their performance, even though they didn’t win. The goal of this, though, was to make some connections and get some exposure for these guys. I also wanted to show them that they could appeal to all ages and cultures with their instrumental music. This is an instrumental band with no main vocalist. The trombone and keys are the main vocalists of this group, and that is what makes them special.

Their effort and dedication is what makes me so proud to be able to have the title of their manager. They have entrusted me with helping them to get to where they want to be in their music careers together as a band. They trust me to get their name out there and get them out of here.

I truly think this group of young musicians should be getting paid the big bucks for the type of talent they have. Imagine Booker T. and the M.G.s of this day, with a trombone instead of a bass. That is what I think when I hear them play.

I said all that to say this: I AM PROUD OF ALL MY GUYS! YOU HAVE PUT A LOT OF HARD WORK AND EFFORT INTO THIS BAND, and I THINK THAT YOU GUYS WILL GO FAR IF YOU KEEP IT UP!

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