To put it mildly, 2008 was an off year. Granted, 2008 had a few redeeming qualities, but they were few and far between. From the looks of it, things couldn't get much worse. So cheer up, guys — 2009 has a lot of potential.
Looking back at the year that was 2008, we saw the end of the TV writer's strike and the long and somewhat ridiculous presidential campaign. There were huge strides in environmental awareness, and, as a result, greater efforts toward going "green." On the other hand, New Kids on the Block reunited and recorded a new album, Patrick Swayze was diagnosed with colon cancer, and there's still the never-ending war in Iraq.
But the worst of our troubles has been the ever-so-rocky economy. Between bailouts, foreclosures, soaring gas and grocery prices, rising unemployment rates, fluctuating stock markets, and an official recession, which apparently began in December 2007, financial woes have loomed over much of the year.
In recognition of the year's financial ups and downs and the eerie similarities to the year 1929, which marked the beginning of the Great Depression, we're supplying New Year's Eve partygoers with a list of events that won't leave you empty-handed and in need of a bailout. We'll also include some fun facts and otherwise weird comparisons to 1929.
1929: "Auld Lang Syne"
On December 31, 1929, Canadian-born Guy Lombardo and his band, the Royal Canadians, performed "Auld Lang Syne" for the first time in the United States. In following years, Lombardo's group played the song as part of New Year's Eve broadcasts from the Roosevelt Hotel and later the Waldorf Astoria in New York. The song has since become the most popular tune at New Year's Eve parties across America.
Within the city limits, partying on Beale Street is the closest thing Memphians have to New York City's big Times Square celebration. Beale Street will burst at the seams with partygoers, and party options will be plentiful. Besides the availability of ridiculously large alcoholic beverages, there will be lots of live music and other festivities on the world-famous street.
Hard Rock Café will be hosting Memphis' first New Year's Eve Guitar Drop. A 10-foot Gibson Les Paul will be lowered over Beale from a crane at the stroke of midnight. Of course, no Hard Rock party is complete without hard rock, and local rockers Surrender the Fall and Whiskey Penny will take care of that part.
Tickets are $20. For more info, call 529-0007 or visit hardrock.com.
B.B. King's Blues Club will kick off 2009 with a little bit of blues and a little bit of soul. Memphis' own R&B gurus, the King Beez, will start the party at 5:30 p.m., and the B.B. King All-stars will take the stage at 9:15 p.m. and play into the new year. Just $25 gets you in the door, but a $75 ticket will include reserved seating, a bottle of champagne, party favors, and a VIP pass.
For tickets or more info call 524-5464 or visit bbkingclubs.com.
The Pig on Beale is a great place for delicious Memphis-style barbecue, but this New Year's Eve it also will be a great place to check out two blues bands at one low price. Ms. Zeno "Louisiana Mojo Queen" and the Guy Venable Band will perform, and there's just a $5 cover!
For more info, call 529-1544.
Rum Boogie Café will offer a special New Year's Eve dinner package, which will include a three-course meal, party favors, champagne, and guaranteed seating for $85. Live music will include Pam & Terry from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and James Govan & the Boogie Blues Band from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Regular admission without reserved seating is $20.
For reservations or more info, call 525-3897, ext. 301.
1929: Color TV
In 1929, the first public demonstration of color television was held, showing images of roses and an American flag. In 2008, the world was introduced to touch-screen phones and computers. Just imagine what technological marvels lie in the year ahead.
Locally, electronic wonders abound in Tunica, where Memphians can escape into a flashy, jingling atmosphere and surround themselves with glitzy gadgets in the form of slot machines. This New Year's Eve, casino players can ring in 2009 biker-style or take a shot at scoring a million bucks.
The Sheraton is holding a New Year's Eve "Bike Night" party. Fayetteville, Arkansas, rockers, Thanks for Nothing, will play the River Stage Bar. Leather-clad models will greet guests, and temporary-tattoo artists will supply you with that free "I love Mom" tatt you've always wanted. A biker-themed buffet, including beer and barbecue, will be available in the Big Kitchen for $19.99.
For more info, call (662) 363-4900 or visit sheratontunica.com.
Harrah's casino is offering a chance to win $1 million this New Year's Eve in the "Million Kala Jailbreak" promotion. The casino will be decorated in a Hawaiian theme for the night, and visitors can try to open the vault between 2 and 10 p.m. Arrive early for your chance at the million!
For more info, call (800) HARRAHS or visit harrahs.com.
Hollywood casino is offering two-night minimum hotel packages for $299 per night. At Hollywood's Fairbanks Steakhouse, a four-course dinner for two with champagne is $125 per couple. Big Fun will perform free in the Safari Lounge, and there will be party favors and a midnight balloon drop on the casino floor.
For hotel and dinner reservations and information, call (800) 871-0711.
1929: Al Capone jailed
In 1929, notorious gangster Al Capone and his bodyguard were arrested for concealing deadly weapons, leading to Capone's first jail sentence. This year, Memphis' former Platinum Plus strip club auctioned off everything inside the building, including the bar, which was allegedly owned by Capone and was riddled with bullet holes. It sold for $30,000.
Though your New Year's Eve plans won't (hopefully!) include deadly weapons, they will probably include lots of drinking. So to avoid your own arrest, you might consider a night out that ends with a stay at a local hotel.
- David Coen
The Madison Hotel is offering a special New Year's Eve package, which will feature dinner at Grill 83, hotel accommodations, and champagne. Hotel reservations require a two-night minimum stay, and rates vary for deluxe rooms and suites. For dinner reservations only, the price is $85 per person and includes a champagne toast at midnight.
For reservations or more info, call 333-1200.
The Peabody has a full agenda for partygoers. There are dinners available at Capriccio Grill ($95) and Chez Philippe ($125), both of which include wristband admission to "The Scene" party with live music by Andy Childs and the John Felix Trio. Standard admission to "The Scene" is $25. Lord T & Eloise and Gabby Johnson will perform in the Grand Ballroom. Admission is $35. The Peabody is also offering an overnight package with various special inclusions for $390.
For reservations and info, call 529-4000 or visit peabodymemphis.com.
1929: Stock Market Crash
In October 1929, stock drops wiped out billions of dollars from the New York Stock Exchange. In 2008, investors again saw a fluctuating market.
To shake off stock market stress, gather a group of friends this New Year's Eve and pretend you're someone else or plan that first kiss of 2009.
Death Du Jour Mystery Theater will present a New Year's Eve performance of the interactive mystery Thunder Spirit at downtown's Spaghetti Warehouse located at 40 West Huling. Price is $35 per person and includes dinner and entertainment. Reservations required.
For reservations and information, contact Phyllis Appleby at 377-0143, 210-0545, or via email at Paappleby@aol.com.
- Lord T & Eloise
Quetzal on Union is offering Memphians "First Kiss: 2009," which will feature a DJ, live music, and a hopping dance floor. General admission tickets purchased before December 28th are $75 and include an open well bar until 3 a.m. There are also various VIP packages available. A four-party package is $500 and includes an open top-shelf bar, chocolate-covered strawberries, a bottle of champagne, and four sticks of lip-gloss for that perfect first kiss of the year!
For more info, tickets, or reservations, call 521-8388.
1929: Great Depression
As we know by now, the economic events of 2008 have been oddly similar to 1929, the year that marked the start of the Great Depression, which wasn't officially over in the U.S. until around 1939.
We're hoping that with Barack Obama taking office in the new year, things will start to look up a little quicker. In the meantime, start 2009 off right by supporting local bars and bands and save a little money by attending one of these events, which have little to no cover charge.
The Orpheum is once again holding the Bluff City Ball. This year's performers include local blues/jam favorites, the North Mississippi Allstars, who released their ninth album earlier this month, and Lucero, who recently signed a deal with major-label Universal Music Group. Also gracing the stage: Amy LaVere and Jim Dickinson. The show begins at 7 p.m.
The Full Moon Club above Zinnie's East on Madison will feature live reggae music by the Soul Enforcers and the Perps, and DJ Rankin File Sound System will spin. There will be drink specials and party favors. Showtime is 9 p.m., and the cover charge is $10.
For more info, call 274-7101.
The Hi-Tone Café's New Year's Eve lineup will feature garage rockers the Neckbones, Jack O. & the Tearjerkers, and Box Elders. Doors open at 9 p.m., and the cover charge is $10.
For more info, call 278-TONE.
Ground Zero Blues Club in downtown Memphis will kick off the New Year with live blues by Preston Shannon. Tickets may be purchased at the door for $25 and will include party favors, finger foods, and a champagne toast at midnight. Festivities begin at 8 p.m. No advance tickets will be sold, though reservations will be accepted.
For reservations and more info, call 522-0130.
Nocturnal on Madison presents "Worlds Collide," an electronic celebration featuring DJs Ben Armstrong, Randal Soeung, Mary Jane, Diggz, and ?Confusion?. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the cover charge is $8.
For more info, call 726-1548.
Huey's is celebrating "more than three decades of New Year's Eves" and will feature live music at two locations from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Huey's downtown will host the Beat Generation, and Huey's Midtown will have blues with Davis Coen & the Change. Best of all, there's no cover charge.
For more info, call 726-9693 or visit hueyburger.com.
The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium is also celebrating with live music at two locations, beginning at 9:30 p.m. Both events include party favors and a free champagne toast at midnight. Funk De Ville will perform downtown. Admission is $10 for U.F.O. Club members and $15 for nonmembers. The Cordova Saucer will feature live music by On-3. Cover charge is $10. Reservations will be available at both locations for $10 per seat, in addition to the cover charge.
For more info or to make reservations, call 523-8536 for the Memphis location and 755-5530 for Cordova.
Newby's on the Highland strip is closing out 2008 with live alt-country acts the Dirt Brothers, Kyle Kiser, and Devil Train. There's a $10 cover, a balloon drop at midnight, and drink prices starting at $3.
For more info, call 452-8408.
Good Time Charlie's in Bartlett will host live music by local rockers Band of Brothers from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Admission is $25 per person or $40 per couple and includes a free buffet and all-you-can-drink bottled beer.
For more info, call 379-1965.
- Amy LaVere