Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Carley!! Here's photographic evidence that Carley really enjoyed her birthday (and the entire bottle of wine she drank!)

For Carley's birthday (actually on Monday the 23rd) she got a surprise date to the Al Green concert at Memphis Botanic Garden. Rob planned every detail - he got the tickets, booked a nice hotel, secured our trusty babysitter (MeMe), made all of the picnic food, bought the wine, gathered all picnic accessories, packed the car - all without Carley knowing. He even stealthily removed the weekly music listings from our newspaper. When we got to the concert, he carried everything inside and topped it all off with a brand new copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! Needless to say, Carley was blown away!

One of the best things about any concert at the Botanic Garden is that you can bring in your own picnic - an ice chest full of food, beer, wine, whiskey, etc., and a couple of folding chairs, and you are STYLIN'. Add some smoked salmon, goat cheese, pasta salad, strawberries and pineapple to the mix and you've got it goin' on. We even managed to get our REI camping table in, even though tables are prohibited, because it rolls up so small that they never suspected it could be a table. (Thanks to Hillson for the great wedding gift!)

It's hard to think of a time when we've been more comfortable and relaxed at a concert, with so much space around us, barefoot in the grassy meadow under a cool evening sunset.

Not only that, but with all the people around us similarly stylin', the overall vibe was festive and even sublime. (Or maybe it only seemed that way from all the wine we drank?) One guy next to us had an expensive bottle of vodka, some kind of juice-mix, and a giant martini glass with 2 straws for him and his date. Stylin'? You bet. (Unfortunately we don't have a photo of them) The audience was definitely not the Bonnaroo/Jazzfest/High Sierra sorts of crowds that we're so accustomed to, but it was a refreshing change, especially with everybody in such a good mood.

The concert meadow was a good size - very spacious, but not too big. Compared to similar venues in San Francisco, it was tiny compared Speedway Meadow, but at least 3 times bigger than the concert area at Stern Grove. It probably holds 3000 to 4000 people comfortably, including tables up front in the reserved seating. Also they had 4 big video screens and speakers strategically placed throughout the meadow, so even people seated under the shady trees in the back could be totally tuned into the show. Seriously top-notch!

The screens combined with the festive-friendly vibe ensured that the ever-common complaints from sitters berating dancers never materialized. Even the high-priced table-crowd was up dancing for a good part of the show.

Our only photo of Al, as he appeared on the video screen. Back in the general admission meadow, we were too far away to bother showing you any photos we took toward the stage.

We spent the night in downtown Memphis, at the Marriott Residence Inn. From the rooftop we could look over a few blocks and see the Mississippi River, and Arkansas on the other side. Unfortunately the rooftop hot tub was only lukewarm. :-(

Memphis is the only city we know of where cars aren't allowed on Main Street - just trolleys, pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles. As you can see from the photos, there is very little happening around here on Sunday morning.

A couple blocks from our hotel was the riverfront, which features 2 significant venues. In the distance is The Pyramid, a 21,000-seat arena. Stretching across the photo is the elevated walkway that takes you to Mud Island (actually a peninsula on the Tennessee side of the Mississippi River), where the 5000-seat Mud Island Amphitheatre resides. In the foreground is a civil war cannon, still standing guard in case of a Union attack.

The Mud Island Amphitheatre. We saw Widespread Panic there a couple years ago and thought it was a sweet venue.

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