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FROM MY SEAT

FROM MY SEAT

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A WEEK SO STRONG If there’s an American city that will have more fun this week than Memphis, Tennessee, I don’t want my daughters anywhere near it. And with due respect to the likes of Nelly, Elvis Costello, Sarah McLachlan, and the Black Crowes, sports will be providing the rhythm, as it were, to this remarkable week.

To start the festivities, you’ve got Bobblehead Monday at AutoZone Park (Cardinal pitcher Chris Carpenter being the dubiously honored player this week). Having split two games over the weekend, the Redbirds and Omaha Royals will play Monday and Tuesday as new divisional rivals in the Pacific Coast League’s American Conference, Northern Division. The teams will play a total of 16 times this season, so the impact in the standings can’t be overstated. (And based on the home team’s turning a 7-0 lead into a 10-9 loss Sunday afternoon, the Redbirds have something to prove as the week gets underway.)

After a day off Wednesday, the Redbirds will host Iowa Thursday through Sunday (with matinees on Saturday and Sunday, lessening any conflict with the action at Tom Lee Park). As the top minor-league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, Iowa (like Omaha) is a new division neighbor of the Redbirds, finally setting up the kind of rivalry the franchises’ ties to the Cardinals and Cubs warrant. (Why does it take seven years for the PCL to recognize this? Until this season, the Redbirds did battle with the Texas Rangers’ top farm team -- Oklahoma! -- for a postseason berth.) One of the St. Louis Cardinals’ top two pitching prospects -- Adam Wainwright -- will pitch either Saturday or Sunday.

Alas, Triple-A will play second-fiddle in terms of buzz, though, as our Grizzlies host the Phoenix Suns (winners of an NBA-best 62 games) in the first round of the playoffs. With Game 3 of their best-of-seven series to be played Friday night and Game 4 on Sunday night -- head-to-head with Triple-A baseball and the region’s preeminent music festival -- how can we not feel like the Bluff City is the center of the universe, if but for a day? All you Griz fans soaking up the rays and who-knows-what down on the river, keep an eye out for Steve Nash or Amare Stoudemire on Saturday, the “rest day” between playoff tilts at FedExForum. If you happen to see them (or any of their Phoenix teammates), treat the visitors to an extra beverage (or seven). Home-court advantage, you know.

And what of the goings-on not requiring a ball and scoreboard? Memphis in May’s Beale Street Music Festival is so packed with talent the organizers couldn’t wait for May. Come Friday, if you can tear yourself away from the Cubs-Redbirds game, Mavis Staples will be crooning down at Tom Lee Park, followed on the Budweiser Stage by the Wallflowers. Or check out Trey Anastasio on the AutoZone Stage.

Having learned to air-guitar in the Eighties, my rockin’ heart will be pumping Saturday when Tesla takes the stage (just before Collective Soul). I saw these California power-rockers twice at the old Six-One-Six on Marshall (my wife barely survived), and can’t wait to see “Little Suzi” on Ol’ Man River. As for Sunday, has one platform at the Music Fest ever hosted a better lineup than you’ll see on the AutoZone Stage: Billy Lee Riley, Lisa Marie Presley (home again!), War, Billy Idol (more air guitar!), and the Black Crowes. Hard to handle, in the best kinda way.

Take a breath, Memphis. And hold on. Over seven days (April 25-May 1), we have six Triple-A baseball games, two NBA playoff games, and three days of music (64 performers on four stages!), all in the Mid-South hub we call Downtown. Make sure you keep track of your tickets -- don’t confuse that Griz ducat with a pass to see Bobby “Blue” Bland -- and be sure to have a few of your favorite CDs in the car. The only down time you’ll likely have in this Week of Memphis Weeks . . . will be sitting in traffic on the way home.

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