Not so long ago we were leading an easy life of sophisticated urbanites in a rented Leather District loft in Boston. We were cultured people. Or at least we tried to be in a city that goes to sleep at 10pm, wakes up before sunrise and then complains that the hip crowd has moved to New York. Mother nature in its infinite wisdom did not give us genes for music, but it endowed us with enough talent for random hacking that we could afford to attend live performances on a regular basis.
As our recent custom dictates, we manage to avoid visiting Graceland, the biggest attraction of Memphis. But this time it actually makes sense. After all Memphis without Elvis would still be a great place, but Elvis without Memphis would not exist. The blues city is still alive, even if it’s an existence on life support. The main drag - Beale St. - is full of clubs and neons. And they get extra points for keeping the neons lit, even if some of the clubs are not open. But it’s not too difficult to find life music and we are talking the worst possible time: Sunday at the end of the New Year’s weekend.
It’s only about 150 miles from Thomasville to Birmingham. But I feel like we’ve travelled from Mars back to Earth. We spend one night in Sunset Inn in Thomasville and the next in Hotel Highland in Five Points district of Birmingham. In Thomasville we can’t find a place to get a decent coffee (google map suggests a place only 20 miles away). In Birmingham we stay in a designer hotel, have dinner in a stainless steel and polished concrete restaurant named Twenty Six and conclude the evening listening to Glen and Libba in the hotel bar. They play in Highland every Monday and if you are in the area don’t miss it: Libba’s voice and Glen’s guitar are quietly explosive combination. The entire neighborhood looks like Cambridge and we feel at home. The price tag is probably around half of what we would pay in Boston. We don’t even mind the temperature that refuses to fall even long after the sunset. I can’t believe it’s the same Alabama which is last in the nation by any measure (Glen’s words, not mine).