Monthly Archives: August 2011

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{Official} Favorite Place in Memphis

A few weeks ago, I came to a stunning realization: I OFFICIALLY  have a favorite place in Memphis!

“Why is this a stunning realization?”, you may ask. Because I hadn’t really thought about having a favorite place in Memphis, or not having one for that matter, up until this point. But on the night in question, I found myself at this particular locale in my hometown, and it dawned on me that there was no other place the city where I’d rather be.

And that place is:  Orpheum Theatre, located in downtown Memphis. So I’ll round up some of the shots I have on hand from various visits I’ve made to the theatre over the years, along with some I snapped on my most recent visit, and I’ll tell you a little about my experiences there.

Circa 2006

Allow me set the scene for you (that is to say, the circumstances surrounding the aforementioned realization):

My birthday came around a couple of weekends ago. I like to do small, meaningful things for my birthday rather than asking for a huge birthday bash (though those ain’t so bad from time to time!) The ONLY request I had for celebrating the anniversary of my birth this year was that someone accompany me to a movie showing in the Summer Movie Series at the Orpheum. In my opinion, the Summer Movie Series is the coolest thing to do in Memphis during the summer, hands down.

Much to my delight, I discovered that the movie playing on my birthday weekend was going to be Walk the Line. It was part of a series of Memphis-made films they were showing during the Summer Movie Series this year. I immediately knew who had to go see it with me: Mallory!  And – yay! –  she was available to help fulfill my one birthday wish!

Circa 2010

There is just something so special about walking down Beale Street while wearing a pretty dress, on a breezy summer evening, making your way to the resplendent [oh yeah, I just busted out that vocab word!] Orpheum Theatre. When I arrived at the theatre and stood out front waiting for Mallory’s arrival, I took in the atmosphere around me. The iconic theatre marquee, studded underneath with a zillion lights.  The people standing around, chattering before the show begins. The view down Beale Street, with its flashing neon signs. Classic Memphis sights and sounds.

Circa 2006

Stepping  into the lobby of The Orpheum is like a gateway to another era. Everything is plush! Extravagant furnishings, art deco touches, rich fabrics, chandeliers, gilded surfaces everywhere you look. I can just imagine women in mink stoles and men in their best tuxedos, sipping champagne before seeing a performance in the 1930s.

They often have special activities for the audience before the movies plays. Like this trivia contest about Johnny Cash before Walk the Line. Mallory contributed the final tie-breaker question for the contest!

But back to the night a few weeks ago – my “realization” night. Mallory and I made our way into the theatre itself. No matter how many times I walk into the Orpheum, I still get this sense of “oooh!” and “ahhh!” at the grand scale of it all. It’s just…they don’t make ’em like this anymore.

After the trivia contest, Walk the Line started rolling and goodness did Mallory and I have a wonderful time seeing this film! The atmosphere surrounding us added so much to our experience. Not to mention, we were sitting next to this really great German family who seemed to be tourists – they were LOVING the movie and LOVING being at the Orpheum. It was both entertaining and endearing to witness their experience (though I did really wonder how people for whom English is a second language could possibly understand all those “country” accents in Walk the Line! I think I’d have needed subtitles had I been them!) Both we and the German woman I was sitting next to were freaking out when we realized that a crucial scene was actually filmed at The Orpheum. How did we not notice that when we’d seen the movie before?! It was so surreal to watch the scene on the big screen and be able to look around the room we were sitting in, recognizing that it was filmed right here.

Mallory and I left the film feeling like we were on top of the world – that feeling you get when you have the perfect night. We lingered outside, looking at the 1955 Cadillac they had sitting in front of the Orepheum in conjunction with the showing Walk the Line. Such a great feeling of “atmosphere”! I think we both would rank it as one of the best nights we’ve ever had in Memphis. It was a good night to be Memphians.

{Discovery} Looking for Alaska

Here is a fact about my life: almost every friend I have is a musician. Music and bands are the reason I know 95% of the people I’ve met in the past decade. That’s how I ended up doing band photography in the first place: going to my friends gigs. Then I met more people in bands and befriended them, too. And if it’s not someone who is directly in a band, most of my other friends were met through musicians who are mutual friends or just by being at the same shows for so many years. And so forth and so on! And, yes, I do have a point with all this…

My point is: I’ve been out of the circulation from local shows for a bit now, due mostly to work scheduling conflicts. I’m discovering that I’ve missed that part of my life and those people and probably new people I could discover at those shows. Since that whole work scheduling thingy isn’t an issue right now, I’m trying my darndest to get out and see my friends play more often! I did so this past weekend, in fact, by heading out to the far east {Cordova, TN!} to see my friends’ band, Looking for Alaska. After I finally got to hear their music, I was kicking myself that it had taken me this long!

I have to say: I really, truly, genuinely think these guys are one of the best local bands I’ve heard in some time. They’re my cuppa tea. I may even be getting a sense of excitement over local music again! You see, in recent years, I have felt like there was a hole in my heart left by some of the local bands I used to love but aren’t together any more. Looking for Alaska just might be able to plug up that hole. AND they’ve just recorded an album, a fact which makes me both excited for them and eager for its release so I can get my hands on it!

Click on through for pictures of Looking for Alaska. Aug. 12 ’11. Smithseven House.