Today we arrived in Tupelo MS, the birthplace of Elvis Presley and the first TVA City. Tupelo is also the home of the Village Vanguard of Mississippi: Vanelli’s, which is an Italian and Greek restaurant with a Jazz club on one side.
This is our second year to play at Vanelli’s and we are happy to see our friends again so soon! We first played here because my friend and first bass player Monte Butts (from Oklahoma) lives nearby and recommended the venue to us. Monte and I used to work together at Maker’s in Bricktown OKC (among other places), starting in 2000 or 2001.
Always great to see Vaz (the owner of Vanelli’s) and his homestead, which he calls Vaz Vegas. I want a house on a beautiful lake!
There is something about playing at Vanelli’s that I LOVE. Most people who have never been to this part of the country might be surprised I feel that way, especially when they discover the gig is a keyboard gig too (not an acoustic piano), but there is such a nice vibe in that room. AND some of the hippest Jazz fans come out to see us! As a band we feel relaxed in such an intimate room with such nice relaxed people, and we feel free to play some new material and explore new ideas. You might remember that last year on this southern tour Hide Tanaka (bass) and I invented our arrangement of “Summertime” which is on my new CD “Champian Sings and Swings” right here in Tupelo.
Tonight the creative energy was no different. I really feel like we are becoming a BAND after being on the road for a while and spending so much time together. This is my first time to spend so much time with either Elias or TKash, but I have to tell you I am THRILLED to have them on the road with me. They are both so pleasant to travel with and as a band I think we have a very nice vibe.
So, I am having FUN!
Tomorrow we play in Opelika AL and then onto the Barking Legs in Chattanooga TN, and finishing our tour in Nashville at Nine48 Jazz (which is almost sold out, just FYI if you don’t have your tickets yet).
Here are some pictures from the past few days:
Elias is the official spatial expert!
TKash visited Elvis’ birthplace this morning:
Elias & Monte compare their basses….
And I went to the gig as a Jazz pirate: