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Posts Tagged ‘mississippi’

Back to Mississippi!

May 6th, 2009

We love doing Market Street Festival for our friends at CableOne. It’s a great event that draws huge crowds of very fun people. The bands are always excellent, the food is a delightful slice of the South, and this year even the hotel knocked the ball out of the park.

CableOne put us up in a jacuzzi suite with a widescreen, and it was roomy and sumptuous. Just the place to recover from a ten hour drive.

We did shows at 10, noon and 2 on Saturday the 2nd and the crowds were wonderful. For some reason, the festival had rearranged the locations of several things, much farther away from our stage than any previous year (this was my eighth) but we pulled in enough for all the seats and lots of standing room.

Despite all this, the local paper barely mentioned it even though the festival itself dominated the front page. Apparently there is some kind of unhealthy media rivalry going on between the various agencies in Columbus.  Figures I guess.  Being the most popular festival in the area, there would be a few power plays involved.

Anyway, like I touched on in my post about Market Street last year, even though I have never lived there, Mississippi is in my blood.  My mother was born and raised in Jackson, and we visited often.  My aunt and several cousins live in Wesson.  Most years, that’s where we have Thanksgiving.

I recently learned something from Mom’s past that’s pretty funny.   When she was attending Jackson High, there was a sock hop that her friends were going to, and they asked her along.  The school had hired a garage band from Tupelo High.  Average copy tunes from the era, but a pretty decent band.  Her friends wanted to meet the band during a break, and Mom remembers thinking the lead singer came off a little full of himself.  But she did think that Elvis was a catchy name.

Return to Mobile, AL

December 22nd, 2008

I’m more than a little overdue to post this one.

Four more sold out shows at the wonderful Gulf Coast Exploreum, and I have three separate tales to tell about that trip.

First, the museum did something I’ve never tried before. They staged my show in their IMAX dome theater. It was very much like speaking in a lecture hall (I did that for the Texas A&M Veterinary College Open House a couple of years ago) only with steeper angles. The lighting was a big challenge but the sound system was awesome, and seating was clearly very comfortable for all those present. On the first day, the second show was sold out before the time the first one ended.

Big kudos to the excellent staff of the Museum, who also added a fun element to the experience due to the layout of the theater.  Like most IMAX domes, the audience exits out the top, which opens into a large area where I was able to let folks interact with Capone (the big black and white Tegu) and Neon (the big albino Burmese python) and me directly.  Nicely done.

A local TV station filmed one of the shows, and while the lighting in that room wasn’t designed for a show on a stage at the bottom, some of the footage is still pretty good.  They aired it across the region later.

Second, I was graciously invited to stay at the home of Special Events Coordinator Abigail Reeves, whose house is lovingly referred to by the locals as The Purple Palace.  One extremely artistic and creative lady, Abigail has the most outrageously decorated dwelling I have ever seen.  Her Scion is a well-known and award-winning “Art Car” and the house is at least that elaborately well done.

In her younger days she saw (and in many cases met) most of the great performers of the age, and her collection of memorabilia alone is amazing.  The Beatles, The Doors, The Who – you name ‘em Abigail was there.  She weaves all her own rugs and gave me the most incredible snake design picture frame and an artsy “Coexist” light switch cover.   Both her own work.  She’s one extremely interesting person that I am glad to call my friend.  Her neighbors are an extended family and I had the most wonderful evening of true local hospitality when we visited.

The third tale involves a couple of trips across the bay to Orange Beach,  to join Dolphin Queen Cruises, under the able command of my friend Captain Lori DeAngelis.  On the first day I arrived in the evening after her last cruise and Lori, her hubby and I went back out for a brief trip as the sun was setting.  I faced down one of my own little phobias (there was, after all, a jellyfish warning out at the time) and eased into the warm, dark water to float on my back, holding onto a line from the transom.  It was absolutely amazing hearing the dolphins clicking away beneath me, echolocating the dimensions of the big floating thing above.  Awesome.

Day two, at Capt. Lori’s invite – I became her first mate for an amazing experience, a shrimping trip.  A very nice family from up North had booked this very exclusive private two hour cruise which included casting the net, hauling in the catch – and most importantly – tossing the culls overboard.  Among the shrimp were small red snapper, drum, little blue crabs and such – which get tossed over the stern – and the dolphins know this very, very well.

They follow the net as it is being towed, converge as it is hauled in, and get right up close to the boat to catch what gets tossed overboard.  The other dolphin cruises all move in close to give their passengers a good look, but the really close action is aboard Capt. Lori’s vessel.  Very, very memorable.  The family gets to keep the shrimp, and this particular catch was pretty impressive.

During a lull in the action I did some magic for them, and now Capt. Lori wants me to do that again on a future trip there.  A shrimp, dolphins and magic cruise.    Hard to beat.

BTW, please pardon the resolution on the images.  I took only video on this trip (helps with the dolphins especially) so all the pics are vidcaps.

I love Mobile.  And the surrounding area.    Hope to return soon.

Market Street Festival – Columbus, Mississippi!

April 9th, 2008

I’m craving boiled peanuts. Must be Market Street Festival time!

Every April my mind drifts to Mississippi, and to a town that seems to have adopted me. My first visit was for Discovery Networks, representing Animal Planet for CableOne. They were just launching new Discovery product, and my show made a great reason to sign up for cable.

The response was so big that CableOne has invited me back year after year, and this one’s going to be bigger than ever. We’ve got a bigger tent so everyone can actually fit inside, and the festival itself just keeps getting more acclaim as one of the very best local festivals in the entire South.

This year’s dates are May 2-3. A band will play Friday night and Saturday is the big street festival, followed by another great band jamming into the evening. I’ll be doing three shows outside CableOne’s location on May 3.

Columbus is a great college town located on the Tombigbee river, a lush landscape filled with heritage and history. The festival boasts some of the best food from the area, plus booths with all kinds of interesting things that I only seem to see at this particular event. The entertainment is always excellent, and I’m very pleased to play my part in that.

The folks at CableOne have become like family to me, and it’s great to be invited back to the big party. They pulled off a genuine miracle a couple of years ago after a tornado hit the town, getting cable and high speed internet back online in a huge undertaking. This bunch is really top notch.

My entire fascination with snakes began in Mississippi, in my great-grandmother’s back yard in Jackson.  That little Speckled King snake really created a cascade effect.

So if you’re in the Columbus area be sure to catch the show, but if you’re in Memphis, or Tupelo, or maybe Jackson or Birmingham – why not load up the family and make the trip? I guarantee – you’ll love it.