Back on The Bus

by Lenny Hughes

Florida-February 13

We're back, babies!

Just had breakfast with Lew at the Embassy Suites in Orlando, where it feels like late March. Blue and white sky, wind hissing through palms, temps in the 60s...nothing like the polar vortex we flew out of last night.

"I'm done with the snow," Lewis said. The deck on his condo in Hell's Kitchen looks like Antarctica. "The sidewalks are packed ice-I've never seen it like that."

Call it "global warming," "climate change," or whatever-something is not right. The idiots who want to deny it are losing ground; although the hold-outs are claiming the ridiculous cold proves the polar icecaps are fine.

Anyhow, we got out of the northeast just in time. Just in time to land at Orlando airport during a monsoon. Lightning, killer winds and pouring rain. But it's nice for now. We go to Melbourne this afternoon, Miami on Valentine's Day, Sarasota Saturday and Tallahassee on Sunday.

The long and winding road started up last weekend on the banks of the Mississippi.

We reunited in Memphis, home of the blues...and Confederate heroes. I walked along the trolley line on Main Street to the music mecca, Beale Street. Odd to hear Robert Johnson and BB King piped onto the sidewalk as you walk past neon restaurants and novelty shops. It's like hearing cajun and zydeco music along Bourbon Street. BB King has a bar on the corner. Elvis, of course, is still alive there...home of Sun Records and Graceland...billboards declaring, "Let Elvis rock you to sleep."

Stopped into Tater Reds, a weird curio shop run by Leo Allred, a former local radio broadcaster, who reminisced about hanging out with music stars. "You're with Lewis Black? I love Lewis. You know who was one of the funniest comedians I've ever heard? Jimmy Page! Once he got started, everyone was laughing so hard, I had to make him stop so I could catch my breath."

The ceiling was covered with drum skins signed by Page and the rest of Led Zeppelin, the Neville Brothers, etc., etc.

Out by the Mississippi, I ran across Confederacy Park, with a monument to "true American patriot" Jefferson Davis. For some reason, they play down that Civil War thing, and praise him for his work with the U.S. Government. The park overlooks a bend in the river where the Confederate navy was defeated in 90 minutes by federal gunboats.

A block away, an old historic sign marks the site of an early home of Nathan Bedford Forrest. No mention of his alleged role in establishing the Ku Klux Klan.

That evening (Feb. 7), we drove to Tunica, Miss., for the show at the Horseshoe Casino. The crowd was pretty stoked...including a couple women who almost came to blows in the lobby-one accusing the other of assault. (Lewis-what do you do to women?)

Then we headed for the long drive to Nashville, Tenn., arriving at 4:30 in the morning.

I was ragged out all day in the Country-Western capital. Watched several episodes of "America's Cutest Kitties" on the Animal Planet channel.

We set up for the show at the venerable Ryman Auditorium, original home of the storied Grand Ole Opry. Nice folks there. And they print up posters using hundred-year-old woodblocks for every show, and the ones for Lew's looked spiffy. He signed them, and we sold a slew of them. (The picture of the stage includes tour-manager Ben and Live Nation rep Jordan.)

The short weekend went fast, but the short break went even faster. I had enough time to prepare the house and car-tent for the coming blizzard (between episodes of "The Virginian" and "Maverick," of course). And I'm just about ready to set sail for Melbourne.

More later.