Big Llou's blues after party rocks

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Michael Roy Birdcap and Chris Reyes at  Artery. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Michael Roy Birdcap and Chris Reyes at Artery.

Rain, rain went away and the Artery Alley Party took place two weeks later.

The party, originally scheduled for April 26, was postponed to May 10 because of rain that hit about 6 p.m., said Penelope Houston, vice-president of marketing and communications for Downtown Memphis Commission, which sponsored the event.

Artists showed their works on the walls on the South side of Local and the old Oshi, Penelope said. “We probably had 30 submissions for what was eventually six artists we chose for phase one,” she said. “And there is a phase two we will launch later this year.”

About 350 people attended the event “over the course of the evening,” Penelope said. In addition to the art, the event featured table tennis, corn hole games, chalk for sidewalk drawling an Amurica photo booth, Mempops and music by Djanga and Southern Avenue.

Big Llou Johnson at  Big Llou's Blues Hall of Fame Tribute Jam. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Big Llou Johnson at Big Llou's Blues Hall of Fame Tribute Jam.


Big Llou Johnson hosted his fifth “Big Llou’s Hall of Fame Tribute Jam” in Memphis May 10, but it was the first time he held it at the Warehouse in the South Main district.

His event is the after party for the Blues Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It’s held the night before the Blues Foundation Blues Music Awards.

Llou remembered attending the induction ceremony five years ago. “After that ceremony we just left and went back to the hotel,” he said. “Everybody did their own thing. There was no music there. There was no camaraderie or back patting.
He was concerned. “Me coming from Chicago, a party town and a blues music town, I was not having it.”

So, he said, “Let me throw a party.”

The first event, held at B. B. King’s Blues Club, drew “a good hundred,” LLou said. “Everybody who was inducted in the Hall of Fame that night - we just had a ball.”

The event was held at Hard Rock Cafe for three years until it moved to the Warehouse this year. About 350 attended this year’s event, Llou said.
Since it began, the jam has raised more than $20,000 for the Blues Foundation, Llou said.

Asked the origin of the unusual spelling of his first name, Llou said he changed it because he’s a member of organizations, including the Screen Actors Guild. “It’s a well known fact you can’t have two actors with the same name in the actors’ union.”

His real name is “Louis,” but “Louis,” “Lou” and even “L. Johnson” were gone, he said. “I’m sitting in the union office going, ‘What can I change my name to? I don’t want to be ‘Lou Stone,’ ‘Lou Riprock’ or ‘Lou Granite.’”

Since his mother’s name is “Lora,” his father’s name is “Louis” and his grandmother’s name is “Lillie,” Llou just added another “l” to his name. “Everybody who meant anybody to me in my family, (their) name started with ‘l.’ Let me stick another ‘l’ in my name. If I ever get to see my name up in lights, those ancestors will be up there with me.”

Jim Hines at Gossett. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jim Hines at Gossett.


Gossett Porsche unveiled its 2017 Panamera at a reception May 11 at the dealership on Covington Pike. The silver 550-horsepower Porsche that can reach a top track speed of 190 drew applause from the crowd when the drape was removed.

Wayne Ashford, one of the guests, has owned 27 Porsches over the past three years. He trades them in every “three to six months,” he said. “I never put 1,000 miles on them,” he said.

“He’s never had to check oil,” said his Porsche salesman Saad Baddar.

He even owned the Porsche that was unveiled. “Here people are waiting to see it and I’ve already driven it,” he said. “And traded it in.”


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