VOL. 132 | NO. 99 | Thursday, May 18, 2017
Last Word: Food Changes, Tax Breaks and 'The Big Bang'
By Bill Dries
Late hours in Washington for another night Wednesday with word of the appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as special prosecutor in the Trump-Russia investigation. Here is all of the reaction we had as of late Wednesday from our folks in D.C.
Maybe it is Memphis In May’s influence but there is a whole lot of change being rolled out when it comes to barbecue places and supermarkets. That Germantown BBQ institution The Commissary is branching out to a second location in Collierville. Central BBQ partnering with Kemmons Wilson Companies on an expansion of its brand.
And just yesterday we reported on the new look Corky’s will have as well as an interesting foray into “UberEats.” And Fresh Market is rolling out its new look in Memphis first and then elsewhere next year. Think a bigger produce section and demonstration areas with sampling. The Memphis renovations were unveiled this week.
Wednesday is not usually opening day for the barbecue contest in Tom Lee Park but the contest is in the process of adding some new customs like the new kickoff event for the barbecue. It’s called the Big Hog Run – a race down Beale Street from Main and the Orpheum to Riverside Drive. It is a 0.2 k race. That was followed by Barbecue Sauce Wrestling with 40 gallons of Cattlemen’s Barbecue Sauce in a ring with rounds of three minutes each. Thursday is another first for the barbecue contest with the debut of BBQ Alley. Memphis In May promotes this as the day you don’t have to know someone on a competing team to get barbecue in the park. The barbecue in the alley comes from the city’s many barbecue restaurants.
Elvis Week isn’t until August but Graceland’s observance of the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death will be the first Elvis Week to make use of the $137 million expansion of Graceland in Whitehaven including Guest House at Graceland that opened in October and Elvis Presley’s Memphis, the complex of soundstages and other attractions across the boulevard from the mansion that opened in March. This week, the Graceland Plaza that has been the entry point for tourists taking the mansion tour since the 1980s has been coming down, ending an era for Memphis tourism that began in the days following Presley’s death in 1977.
The Overton Park Gallery becomes more of a permanent fixture in the always vibrant and perpetually under-estimated Memphis art scene. This is the gallery that is upstairs from Ecco and Diane’s Art Gift & Home in a building that was once the Stonewall Masonic Lodge.
West Coast investors buy a trio of warehouses in southeast Memphis from Artemis HIP in an $8.6 million deal.
Two sets of tax breaks for Presidents Island development awarded Wednesday by EDGE. One is the new NouriTech plant that makes a protein used in fish feed.
The other project amounts to a reversal of Cargill’s 2015 decision to close its Memphis corn milling facility on Presidents Island. That was five-years into an eight year PILOT in which it promised to invest $72 million in the plant. Cargill surrendered the tax breaks when it closed most of the plant, keeping on only a small staff of 41 people.
With the new PILOT approved by EDGE Wednesday, Cargill is planning a $20 million investment to supply corn oil to an on-site refinery. This operation is separate from Cargill’s joint venture with Calysta for which the two companies got another PILOT.
And Neighborhood Docs was approved at the Wednesday session for a 15-year PILOT to expand and rebrand its Good Health Institutes in Cherokee, Bethel Grove and Orange Mound. The company intends to expand through new services it hasn’t been able to offer before including primary care, OB/GYN and radiology.
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell about the suburban, urban, rural divide, his conversation with an un-named suburban mayor and who should follow him as mayor when he leaves office in September of 2018.
Jill Crocker has gone from being the board chair in the turnaround of the Urban Child Institute to the new executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities, the home away from home for patients and their families at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
In his “View From The Hill” column, our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard finds there are at least two very different views of what the Tennessee Legislature and Gov. Bill Haslam got accomplished over a five-month period in session. And as always there are tea leaves to be read on what this year means for next year in Nashville.
We had some speculation about this earlier in the month in our Friday sports section. UT’s baseball coach is quitting.
From Knoxville to Nashville where the head of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission has been charged with sexual exploitation of minors.
We gave you a look at “Barrier Free” – the art installation on immigration issues that went up last weekend at the Latino Memphis Festival on the Overton Park Greensward. The piece has now moved to the central atrium of Crosstown Concourse where it is Crosstown’s first art installation.
So at the end of another long day, I make it home Tuesday night into Wednesday morning (We don’t need to be more specific, do we?) and come across the first episode of “American Epic” – the three-part documentary on PBS that began Tuesday – just as the episode shifted from Ralph Peer recording the Carter Family in Bristol to Ralph Peer finding his way to Memphis and recording Will Shade and the Memphis Jug Band at the McCall Building just a block north of Beale Street.
The episode is called “The Big Bang” and here it is in its entirety of nearly an hour. I’ve never seen this much archival footage and sound from Memphis and Beale Street in one production. It includes the only footage of Shade performing but there is plenty of audio of him talking about his musical influences and Beale Street of old. Charlie Musselwhite, who knew Shade well as a mentor and friend, also helps paint a vivid picture of what drew him to the Jug Band’s music and Shade in particular. He is interviewed in the police office on Beale near Fourth noting that it was once the rather notorious saloon that was known as “The Palace of Missing Men.”
The premise for the documentary is that musicians like Jack White, Nas and Taj Mahal perform some of the tunes Peer captured on the equipment Peer used nearly 100 years ago. That includes Nas performing a Memphis Jug Band tune and talking eloquently about the relevance of the music and of Beale Street’s culture.
If you are involved in the current discussions and debate about the future of Beale Street, or have followed our coverage or just wonder what Beale could be and what it was as you drive by it and walk through it, you need to hear what Nas has to say.
If the folks who wrote the story line for “Sun Records” had gone just below the surface a bit to find out stuff like this, they might still be on the air.
In the "are the TV weather folks making this stuff up" department -- a “blowing dust advisory” shows up on my Facebook feed Wednesday. Really? Is that really a weather warning? If it is, I want to know about any dandelion damage that may result.