I agree with Frank that's it's questionable at best that the changes made to AZP have improved the park. I certainly don't think taking away the playground is an improvement. Not only was it the one free thing for small children to enjoy but it was definitely one of my son's favorite aspects of going to games. I was actually surprised back at the beginning of the season that there was only 1 negative comment about that posted on the Redbirds' Facebook page. I also agree that while the new bluffs put fans closer to the game, I fear it's only a matter of time before a toddler or small child gets beaned by a line drive foul ball. Fans were farther away from the action on the old bluff but nobody seemed to mind and the travel time was long enough for balls headed out there that parents were able to get their kids out of the way. And, lastly, one change that, to me is definitely not an improvement: the moving of the ticket takers all the way up to the entrance to the stadium vs. where they had always been before at the plaza entrance. While seemingly a minor change, at more than one game I went to this year, myself or someone I was with was hit up for money by guys IN THE PLAZA! Being solicited on the sidewalk outside of the stadium is one thing, but this is the kind of experience that might make surburbanites swear off ever coming to a Redbirds game again. And, yes, paying major league prices for minor league beer, regardless of the major league quality of said beer, is also no fun.
Re: 20-75. A master guitarist at work, indeed. Except it's Reggie Young, not Teenie, on that track. Young later went on to fame as part of Chips Moman's house band at American Studio backing up Elvis, Bobby Womack, Joe Tex, Dusty Springfield, B.J. Thomas, The Box Tops, etc. He's the guitarist on most of Willie Mitchell's recordings up until around 1966 when he left Hi and joined up with Chips. Teenie cited Reggie as his all time favorite guitarist.
In addition to the Mighty Souls getting some stage time with the good Doctor, the bulk of the excellent horn section that performed during the rest of the show were Memphians as well, including former leader of the Jumpin' Chi Chis Reid McCoy as 'guest trumpeter', New Orleans ex-pat Brian "Breeze" Cayolle on sax, and Gary Topper also on sax. I was wondering at first why the trombone player/musical director was having to read the names of the horn players off of a piece of paper during the band introductions but quickly realized why when I heard the names and when she said that "Breeze" got the horn section together for the show.
Great piece, Joe. One correction: 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head' wasn't recorded at American. BJ Thomas got offered the opportunity to record with, composer/producers, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, and cleared it with Chips Moman who encouraged Thomas to go to, I'm not sure if it was LA or NYC, probably LA, to record the song. Similarly, the same year, Dionne Warwick interrupted her string of Bacharach/David classics to come to Memphis to American to record her Top 20 album Soulful, which yielded her hit cover of The Righteous Brothers 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling'. Not sure if Moman and Bacharach/David worked out a trade or what but Thomas, who got a number one hit and eventually saw his song inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, certainly benefited more than Warwick who only got a Top 20 single that's been, more or less, forgotten.
I truly wish whoever it is that owns/bottles/markets Willingham's sauces and rubs would consider opening a restaurant here. When it was on Brookhaven Circle, Willingham's was where I would always take guests for, in my opinion, the absolute best Memphis BBQ ribs. Bring back the W'ham!!
Great article, Chris! Next up: Oklahoma City. Now, a quibble with something that keeps happening at Grizzlies games that I find very annoying. First, just to be clear, I have never been to a Thunder game in Okla. City so I have no idea what jock jams they play to pump up the crowd during and, especially, at the end of games. But, if they don't play "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC the person who controls that aspect of the 'arena experience' there should be fired. Now, with all that out of the way, can the Grizzlies arena music person please STOP PLAYING THAT SONG, especially in this series with the aforementioned Thunder. You don't hear the Florida marching band playing Rocky Top when the Vols are in town.
By Chris McCoy
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