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
Most days as a full time Memphis musician can be very long. Yesterday, we were out of our home at 11:30 to be at Handy Park at 12. The rest of the band did not show up until after 1. My husband played until 10 pm last night with five 15-20 minute breaks. This was outside, very hot and humid. Most days are not like that, now, but Jeremy is still on Beale Street 12 hours out of most days. People think being a musician is so easy, that all you have to do is play an instrument. That is not true. You have to worry about making sure you have gigs booked, which can be difficult in a city FULL of musicians competing for the same spots. You have to make up for lost gigs sometimes by doing gigs that are well beneath what you should be playing for. It’s funny to me that the “paid touring musicians” for quite a few major artists don’t even really have to play their instruments on the stage and still get paid. My husband, and several other musicians, would feel insulted if you asked them to pretend to do what they have put all of their hard work and energy into doing. No, people may not realize it, but normal musicians work hard to gain the love and respect of their fans, too. Most of them have to do all of the legwork themselves, doing their own promotions, booking, and sales. It is almost a 24 hour a day job. I wish there was more respect for the every day musicians, who are just as talented as those world famous superstars’ musicians.
So, you always hear all sorts of things about singers these days. Some are total divas. Some are self-centered, rude, and hard to work with. Some are just particular about what they like. Last year, Jeremy got a call from Mike Dobbins, husband and manager of Sweet Angel, “the Redbone with the Saxophone of Blues.” Due to scheduling difficulties, we were not able to work with her. In that year, Sweet Angel had another band or two, and the Bones started to take off on their own.
About a month or two ago, we got a call from Mike Dobbins. Jeremy was asked to put a band together for a Sweet Angel show. This time, the band was ready. All they needed was a guitar player. Moe, our bass player, suggested someone. He came to two rehearsals (there were only 3) and backed out on the day of the event. Moe called a guitarist named Adam. Jeremy has played with him a lot of times on Beale Street. I was sure if anyone could do the music he could. But that story comes a little later. Jeremy booked the gig for the Bones, and the Bones began rehearsing the music.
Now, I should explain something before I go any further. All of the musicians I work with are able to listen to a song and normally play it back just like the CD. You will rarely ever see chord charts, drum charts, or sheet music around them. A majority of them are self taught. I don’t mean, they only play by ear. If you gave 3/4 of them sheet music to sight read, they could. There is just something different about these musicians.
I was emailed all of the music and made sure my band got it. The first rehearsal lasted an hour or so. They seemed to breeze right through the music. The second rehearsal was a little rough. Of course, there was a different added element, the guitarist. I was not personally at that rehearsal, but I know it tool almost 3 hours. I also heard stories about the guitarist arguing and whining throughout the rehearsal with Sweet Angel. I was at the third and last rehearsal. The energy through the first run was low. When the second run was played, Sweet Angel sounded pretty satisfied, although still skeptical of if they could pull the show off with the energy she needed.
The day of the show rolled around, and we all rode together to Tunica, MS. We were performing at the Tunica Expo Center and Arena, opening up for Avant and Keke Wyatt, as well as Mr. Bobby Rush. Avant’s band was on stage doing a sound check when we walked in the door. Jeremy thought he would be able to use the keyboard in the backline, and there was a backline for everyone else, so nobody brought their amps or big equipment in. They took a very long time to finish their sound check. Sweet Angel and 88Bones were going on stage at 7, but when the band finally got to step foot on stage, it was 7. Of course, Jeremy couldn’t use the other Motif on the stage. We had to run out and get his equipment and set it up. We did that in about 5 minutes time, and the band got started.
The first song was so full of energy. Adam, the guitar player, fit right in with the band, even though his first time hearing her music was in his car on the way to Tunica. Sweet Angel was sweating by the 2nd verse! She told the guys during rehearsal that she wasn’t satisfied until she started sweating. After the first song, I went to sit beside the stage. The show went of without a hitch. When Sweet Angel came off stage, she told me I’d whipped them into shape. I didn’t do anything. That’s just my guys. They may not be perfect during rehearsal, but when the lights are shining and people are cheering, these guys give their best.
We got in the van for the ride home, all feeling somewhat satisfied. It looks like this could be a new path for #88Bones. Stay tuned for this adventure. Oh, and Sweet Angel has proved not to be anything more than a professional lady. She was kind, generous, encouraging, and wants the best band she can get because she puts on a show that needs just that. We truly appreciate her professionalism. I am very proud to say I am the manager of Suavo J. feat. Mr. 88 and the Bones. They are an amazingly talented group of professional musicians, and I am honored to be able to work with them. I’m so glad that they entrusted me with their future as a band.
Suavo J. featuring Mr. 88 and the Bones is the band that I manage. Most of the time when Jeremy plays, I take a supportive wife role. I setup equipment and play waitress and mom to most of the bands that he plays with. My momma didn’t raise a lazy woman. On occasions with my band, I get to play more of a role than band wife and mom. I get to manage the Bones. I run their website, Facebook, promote, book, and do crowd management at the shows. I am the one everyone turns too when the band is on the stage and something is needed from them.
For the past 10 months, I have been trying to get the band booked at venues other than the cigar shop, where they play when needed. This has been in nights when the Grizzlies had home games at the Forum or when a band is not already booked on Thursdays (ladies’ night). I appreciate having a venue to play in so the band would have a regular showing. It has had its ups and downs, and we will probably be back there soon.
Tonight was different. Tonight the Bones played at the Center for Southern Folklore. This is a vastly different crowd. Tonight, my moms were there and the first time they would see Jeremy and his band play live. Tonight was the first gig with a cover charge ($10). Tonight was their time to shine and be seen. That is exactly what they did. As they began their first set, my moms and their friends took their seats. Another friend of ours came in. I walked outside, and the manager asked if I thought the guys would draw a crowd. I just kinda shrugged my shoulders and said we would see.
As they played the first of two sets, people began piling in. These were people who were just walking by and had too stop and listen. Most of them stayed most of the night. My band had the house PACKED! The employees of the Center were wowed by the Bones. They lived up to their motto of putting some of their Memphis Soul in the bones of their listeners. The set ended with a packed house. My moms and their friends left, and a few of the others stayed around.
The second set started with “Extravaganza.” They absolutely rocked the house with their rendition of this song, and by the second part of the song, the room was beginning to fill again. People who couldn’t come in gathered at the door to see this amazing band. By the end of the night, the crowd was begging for more. The played the longest instrumental version of “Let’s Straighten It Out” I have ever heard. but it was so appropriately wonderful. The crowd erupted when they finished. I could just imagine them on a giant stage with thousands of people in front of them. I can’t wait.
The people filed out, and we began to break down the equipment, all feeling very satisfied. All of the money was counted and distributed. Everyone was even more satisfied. We sealed another gig at the Center, and we will hopefully be appearing at the Memphis Music Heritage Festival on Main Street in Memphis, TN on Sept. 1, 2013. I would call today an all around success.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The rest of the ride to Pensacola was fairly uneventful. We hit a ton of traffic going through the tunnel in Mobile during rush hour on Saturday, of course. Jeremy was drove through to the other side of the I-10 bridge, and we stopped one last time. We had about 45 minutes on our GPS, and we had 40 minutes to make the gig. It was time to drive smart.
I made it through traffic and got us to Paradise Bar and Grill at 5:56 pm. The gig started at 6.We pulled into the Paradise Inn, which is not on the side of the Gulf that all of the waves wash up on. It was a pretty nice place, and the staff was very friendly. There was a small private beach area and swim area with a pier. A few boats were docked, and there was a pretty nice crowd of people there. While Jeremy changed clothes (he looked like a grease monkey…lol), Darren and Mike, the substitute bass player, helped me get all of Jeremy’s equipment out of the car and set up. At precisely 6:07 pm, the band started. It rained earlier in the day, so the band was set up on the patio instead of the big stage. The clouds were clearing, and the sun was warming the beach. It was an intimate setting, and the band sounded great. An autistic young man, maybe 21 or so, got up and began to dance. He really had the crowd going. Brian gave him a tambourine, and he was right on beat. It was so awesome! I walked out onto the beach and had a seat next to the ocean. I ran my feet through the sand and took a few pictures of the sky and of the band. I was at peace, finally. It felt so good to feel the sand in my toes again.
After the first set, Darren gave us our room key, and we went to take our stuff to the room. About half way through the second set, I went to the room to try to sit down and blog. Of course, the “free wifi” didn’t work in my room, so I went back out to listen for a little while and have a bite to eat. We ate in the room on Jeremy’s second break, and the exhaustion began to hit. I’d been up since the day before with only about two hours of sleep in the car in Little Rock. My time to sleep on the road was interrupted by our car situation. I decided to stay in the room for the last set, take a shower, and maybe get some sleep. Once my head hit the pillow, I was out. The next thing I knew, Jeremy was waking me up to tell me that the gig was over. He hopped in the shower, and cuddled up next to me in the softest bed we’d probably ever been in.
We woke up bright and early the next morning, actually feeling refreshed. We made our way to Mc Donald’s to grab a warm breakfast (the continental breakfast at the hotel really didn’t fill you up), and tried to figure out what we wanted to do. We were limited on funds due to the car trouble on the way down, but I was still determined to enjoy myself. We went back to the room and changed into beach wear.
We walked across the street to the ocean side of the beach, and when we hit the sand, it felt so cool and smooth between my toes. I hadn’t really been able to enjoy the beach since I was a kid, and I was excited to be with Jeremy on his first trip to the beach. It is truly another world. The people are all friendly and laid back. The weather is beautiful. The scenery is beautiful. Who wouldn’t love it? Unfortunately, I burned my leg pretty bad a week before, so I couldn’t get in the ocean. It was so nice just getting to spend time with Jeremy. We walked up the beach as the waves washed over our feet, sometimes pulling us toward the ocean. We would laugh and try to keep each other up. It was fun just being with each other without worrying about all the things we deal with when we are at home. If we had no responsibilities, we probably would have tried too stay. LOL. We didn’t have long before the next gig started at 3, so we went to the pool for a dip. It was so cold I couldn’t make it past the 2nd step. We were at the pool because Jeremy wanted to prove to me that he couldn’t float. He proved his point, and we quickly got out. It was time too get ready for the gig, anyway. It was time to see what a Sunday afternoon on the big stage at Paradise Bar and Grill would be like.
They say that to be a successful musician, you must travel. Well, Jeremy has been travelling quite a bit this year. This past weekend was no exception. He was scheduled to play in Little Rock, AR with the Ghost Town Blues Band on Friday night. This was going to be two gigs, one from 9 PM – 12 AM at Cajun’s Wharf and the other from 1 AM – 4:30 AM at Midtown Billiards. Then we were supposed to drive the 2 hours back to Memphis, and Jeremy was going to ride 8 hours with Darren Jay and the Delta Souls to Pensacola Beach, FL for a two day gig at Paradise Bar and Grill/Inn. Simple enough, right? Nothing is ever that simple in my life. LOL. Friday rolled around, and I was contacted just before we had to leave for Little Rock. Of course, the bass player for the FL gig got sick and couldn’t make it. Not only that, but the equipment trailer that was supposed to come in for the trip didn’t make it in time, so Jeremy was going to have to drive as if he wanted to make the gig. Well, this was the predicament: I was not prepared for a trip to FL, and I would HAVE to be there to help drive if Jeremy really wanted to go to FL because we would be driving from Little Rock to Pensacola after doing 8 hours worth of gigs the night before. I explained the situation, and Darren said they would give up the hotel room for us if I came. So, there I was packing for a road trip I was not expecting to go on.
We left at 4:45 Pm, just the two of us in our little Honda Civic. We had all of his equipment and one suitcase for the two of us. After all, this was going to be a short trip. Even though we left early, the rest of the band didn’t leave until an hour after we did. We made good time and made it to Cajun’s Wharf almost two hours before the gig. I couldn’t believe it, actually. We were ahead of schedule for something. I was hoping the rest of the trip went this smooth. The rest of GTBB arrived about an hour and a half later, quickly unloaded and started their gig. Things seemed to go smooth, but I should’ve known this was too good to be true. As we were breaking down the equipment at the end of the first gig, the sound man dropped a mic stand on Suavo’s trombone and bent the slide. Of course, this is his last working trombone, and nobody offered to pay for it. We finished packing up, everyone talking about how much the trombone situation sucked.
We arrived at Midtown Billiards around 1, and we got set up pretty quickly. While I was waiting on the guys to do sound check and start, I got super tired. I knew that if I was going to make any type of a drive toward FL, that I would have to get some sleep, so I crashed out in the car behind the venue. Jeremy woke me up as he was finishing loading his equipment into the car after the gig. It was time to head for FL. We filled up for gas and agreed that I would take the first leg of the trip so Jeremy could get some rest. So we were off, headed a little over 9 hours south through Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to Pensacola Beach, FL.
Most people think of Beale Street as a place to go party and get drunk, which is unfortunate. I get to see Beale as a school. People flock to Beale just to play on stage and be able to play the Blues. Kids come and get lessons from some of the vets. I got to see that today, and it was so cool. Daniel is teaching himself to play the guitar, and said that they don’t really appreciate the Blues where he is from. He seemed to do very well on stage today!