America, Countries, Music

Remembering Hooker and the Blues Brothers

Boom Boom Boom Boom, today’s Rainy Days is Remembering John Lee Hooker and The Blues Brothers.

And giving Hooker, 20 years dead today, headline status in our list of Bluesmen (and women).

By Hooker by crook

BB and Me Me: In Beale Street, Memphis

John Lee Hooker, Boom Boom: And John Lee sets the scene with a live Chicago street riff outside Nate’s Deli in The Blues Brothers, 40 years old this week.

Memorably Jake and Elwood prepare to enlist Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy despite the objections of Aretha Franklin.

And here’s where to channel your inner John Lee by recording Boom Boom at the Grammy Museum in his native Mississippi.

Mississippi Crossroads

At the Crossroads: Dockery Farms

Robert Johnson, Crossroads: And the most enduring legend in Blues surrounds Robert Johnson.

The bould Robert is said to have sold his soul to the devils at a crossroads in exchange for musical success.

A bit of an oul divil himself Johnson is said to have been poisoned by his lover’s husband.

This and so much more you can l van earn at the Dockery Plantation where he worked and played.

Lady Sings The Blues

Warrior: With Medgar Evers’ widow Myrlie in Mississippi

Billie Holiday, Strange Fruit: And we’re grateful here too to Diana Ross for playing Billie in the movie, and introducing her to a modern audience.

Strange Fruit is a haunting inditement on Deep South racism with the lynching of blacks compared to fruit on trees.

All of which you can explore at the Two Mississippi Museums, the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, in Jackson,

Mama knows best

I got the Elvis moves: At Sun Studio

Big Mama Thornton, Hound Dog: Now Deep South women are, of course, a force of nature.

And Willie Mae who gave the world (and Elvis) Hound Dog is all Mama.

And if you’re in the mood (course you are) then rock your best Elvis at Sun Studio in his home town, Memphis, Tennessee.

BB meets Bono

Bluesing it up: At BB’s Club

BB King and U2, When Love Comes To Town And when anyone comes to Memphis town they come to BB King’s Blues Club, Beale Street.

BB was thus named by a DJ. I’ll leave you to come up with an epithet for the bould Bono (oh, there’s one).

BB, of course, is much storied and he called all his guitars Lucille after a woman two dudes were fighting over.

In a burning building he’d been playing a concert in and he’d gone back into to save his guitar.

So of course we’re happy to be remembering   Hooker and the Blues Brothers.

And all the Bluesmen and women.



America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe

Happy World Friendship Day Pt 1

Happy World Friendship Day and this post is dedicated to the friends we make around the world on our travels.

And whom we’re all missing so much.

Winnie the Pooh is the patron of World Friendship Day.

And who better than the silly willy-nilly old bear all stuffed with fluff.

I’m forever indebted to Mississippian Zach who looked after me (and the rest of the group but mostly me).

On the second leg of my American Odyssey in the Deep South.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King and honouring the two other Kings, Elvis and BB King.

Hit the road Zach

If it had been left to me it would have been more Tragical than Magical Mystery Tour.

With me leaving my mobile phone back in Cleveland, 124 miles from state capital Jackson.

Zach keeping an eye on me

Where we were assembling for the opening of the Two Mississippi Museums, the Museum of Mississippi and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

Zach only organised for a friend who he said was travelling up to the opening himself, but who may very well have been enlisted to help this dopey Scotsman, to take the mobile with him.

The story doesn’t end there though.

And when I put my phone down in the huge hall in the convention centre in Denver Zach appeared to warn me:

’We’re not getting someone to travel 100 miles if you forget your mobile phone this time!’

Geraldine, my Soca friend


We binge-watched American sitcoms when the children were younger (whaddya mean? we still do).

And that meant following the misfortunes of old divil Arthur who had to be walked by his daughter Carrie’s friend Holly.

I’m obviously too young for any of that only I’m not.

And Geraldine walked me and my new Virginian friend Patsy when I went in search of Rihanna at Club Barbados in Barbados

As well as being a reason for getting up early Geraldine went the extra mile for me.

When I showed an interest in Soca music by singing King Bubba tunes.

And on the last day of my trip a CD of her favourite Soca music was waiting for me at reception.

Ich bin ein Dresdener


If only I’d had Ingrid as my teacher when I was young.

Ingrid took us on a walk through Dresden and Saxon history at the German Travel Mart.

Her grandmother had talked to her about the Red Heaven firestorm that set alight their city at the end of the Second World War.

And told us of life under Communist rule. So good I went back for the same tour after my booze cruise on the River Elbe.

I wear the wrist band pass for the tour to this day.

And also others from my Travels which includes Denver, Los Angeles, the Czech Republic and Portugal.

Jose, the real Special One

Life’s a beach

I can’t take her anywhere.

Jose Madomis  is taking us around Portugal Centro , wining and dining and us.

And explaining at any given opportunity why his home town of Coimbra is the centre of the Portuguese (and wider) world.

When El Scary One pipes up about how she doesn’t like Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho.

Suck-up that I am I mentioned how inspiring they both were and got my wine glasses filled up and beers bought for me.

What Amann, what a man, what a mighty good man

Do I pass as Jordanian? With Zuhair

It’s Zuhair, as in zoo hair, our Jordan guide told our G Adventures party.

It’s never easy being a guide and even tougher when you can’t eat and drink while the rest of your party are stuffing their faces and lubricating.

But Zuhair cheerfully took us all around Petra, the Dead and Red Seas and the baptism sites of Jesus, Mt Nebo.

Where Moses looked out onto the Promised Land and Wadi Rum.

And waited for the end of the evening Call to Arms before putting fork to food.

We were an interntational party and it’s well seen that Jordanians are the peacebrokers in the Middle East if Zuhair is anything to go by.

Friends all and friends for life…

And now I’ve begun I’ll bring you more of the guides who have made my trips and the friends from the parties I have been on.






America, Countries, Culture, Deals

The Duckmaster of the Peabody

They’ve got all their ducks in a row in the penthouse suite with the Duckmaster at The Peabody Hotel, Memphis.

But these ducks are going down on the lift for their morning swim.

And the rest of the hotel’s guests, yours truly included, will just have to wait.

Meet the Peabody Ducks.

Every day since 1940 they have been marched to the lift down to the lobby.

Along the red carpet and into the fountain before being marched back up again later.

Legend has it that the General Manager Frank Schutt and a friend Chip Barwick had let ducks loose in the hotel after a hunting trip in Arkansas.

Double Quack time

Whiskey was taken

Our intrepid adventurers had, of course, drunk too much Tennessee whiskey.

That’s the two men, not the ducks.

Today’s Duckmaster Anthony is kitted out appropriately.

He is carrying a cane with a duck head at the top and keeps us all entertained with Duck tails.

If you’re very lucky he will pick you out.

He might even give you the very special role of Honorary Duckmaster.

And that entitles you to help guide them into the fountain.

It’s all quackers.

But I love it, the Duckmaster of Peabody Hotel.

The Peabody, just down from Beale Street, is a Memphis institution and treats its guests almost as well as its ducks.

Love a duck

Good ol’ Southern Hospitality

Southern Hospitality is not a myth.

We stayed in three hotels on our Deep South odyssey.

So as well as the Peabody we enjoyed the luxury of the Hampton Inn in Cleveland, Mississippi.

And the signature Westin in Jackson, Mississippi.

In Cleveland we dined at the Airport Grocery which is actually a bar/diner as big as a ranch.

Appropriate really as I ended up watching rodeo on the TV.

One good ol’ Southern Boy in our company playfully lassoed in one of the gals and the diner resident dog as we watched.

The Southerner’s idea of B&Bs are really more glorious antebellum country houses.

And you might even bump into the cast of The Help who had stayed in the one we visited when they filmed here.

You too will be treated like a lord or lady.

Good ol’ Southern fried food


The Iron Horse Grill in Jackson served up the best Barbecue.

Wash it down with Dr Pepper or local craft beer (Old Miss is my favourite) and has a fascinating exhibition.

Talking of exhibitions.

You have Mississippi’s Two Museums, the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

While you should also check out the Mississippi Museum of Art in the boho part of Jackson.

Learn too of the Mississippians journey through art. After the tour and steak and wine-fuelled dinner that is.

Here on this our last night Yolanda, our Jackson host, serenaded us.

With Merry Christmas To You and gave us all a hearty hug and farewell. ‘Now, come back y’all’.

Try and stop me!

Seasonal greetings

Going South

I flew return with Aer Lingus to Newark and United Airlines to Memphis, via Newark.

Returning Jackson, Mississippi to Houston, Texas, Newark, New Jersey and onto Dublin.

Car hire

3 nights Memphis – Peabody

1 nights Cleveland – Hampton Inn

2 nights Natchez – The Burns B&B

2 nights Jackson – Westin

Costs may vary.

Lead in cost per person £1655.

Visit for more information.

And here is my American Trilogy, and

And if you love a duck as much as me then have a read at and

While here’s the duck of ducks…