Sunday, October 20, 2013

Along the Mississippi Blues Trail: Lucious Spiller at Red's in Clarksdale

On day two of our immersion into the birthplace of American blues, we tried out two venues in Clarksdale, Mississippi, noted for their musicians. One was a more touristy, larger venue, well-known in the press because of its owner Morgan Freeman -- Ground Zero -- which serves a full menu, offers a full bar, and mixes up blues with rock 'n roll.  On our particular visit, we caught a brief intro blues set, which was a good beginning, but the place never really got rocking.  In fact, the rock 'n roll portion of the evening took over, lasting until after 2am. (Be sure you check their schedule if you're hoping to hear some blues).  Ground Zero, 252 Delta Avenue, Clarksdale, MS

Ground Zero, Clarksdale, MS
While that was fun, we were on a mission to find some real blues. We finished our dinner of fried green tomatoes and hot tamales, tried a couple of local Mississippi brews, and decided to search out a more authentic Clarksdale experience.  Red's was our next stop, a no-frills living room/salon set-up with a no-frills bar as well.  Seats set in a circle around guitarist and singer Lucious Spiller and his three-piece band brought us up close and personal to this Little Rock, Arkansas performer who appeared to be channeling the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, and Robert Johnson. In-between sets, Lucious introduced himself, told us how much he wanted to play in New York City, and thanked us for visiting.  It was a mystical experience. As the evening progressed, the musicality and the songs fell apart a bit, perhaps due to the length of the day, perhaps due to a reaction to the intensity of the music being sung, or perhaps due to something else. But it really didn't matter. The setting couldn't have been more real: we were surrounded with local folks, all of whom had an affinity for the blues.

We weren't allowed to video in the club, so I was only able to capture a very dark still of the evening's experiences.  Red's Lounge, 375 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale, MS

Lucious Spiller at Red's Lounge, Clarksdale, MS
The clip below shows Lucious playing at the King Biscuit Festival in Helena, Arkansas and gives you a good representation of his music.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Regional Favorites Delivered to Your Door: Happy Thanksgiving!

Each year just before Thanksgiving, I write about places that ship food to your door (a great way to feed the family after turkey boredom sets in). Last year, I wrote about both domestic and international options. This time, I'm focusing on my regional US favorites from my recent trips around the country, and I've invited guest blogger and fellow foodie Allana Mortell to help me ferret out the best of the best. You can read more of her writing on

If you’ve been to New Orleans, you're sure to have eaten a muffuletta. The sandwich monstrosity, which can feed up to four people, is a round loaf of Italian, focaccia-like bread filled to the brim with salami, ham, mortadella, and sliced provolone and finished with a garlicky olive salad. Central Grocery, a small deli-style shop has been home to the esteemed muffuletta since the early 1900s. Tourists and locals alike wait in line for this sandwich, but with one quick phone call you can have these sandwiches (or the delicious olive salad spread) delivered directly to you wherever you are. Central Grocery, 923 Decatur Street, New Orleans,  (504) 523-1620

Dungeness crabmeat is a delicacy you might be familiar with if you've traveled to the West Coast where it's harvested in the icy waters between Alaska and Northern California. One popular Seattle fish company will ship the best Dungeness straight from the docks to you overnight. Choose from mini crab cakes, whole crab or just a bit of crabmeat. Seattle Fish Company (866) 938 – 7576

If fresh Maine lobster is more your thing, online ordering will bring you lobster meat, lobster tails, lobster rolls, clams, chowder, and even live lobsters. Shipped directly from Portland, Maine, and delivered overnight, you could have a lobster dinner tomorrow Maine Lobster Now, (207) 329-3968 

Chicagoans swear by their deep-dish pizza, and in the Windy City you can’t talk about deep-dish pies without talking about Lou Malnati's.The buttery crust holds layers of creamy mozzarella cheese, tart tomato sauce and homemade Italian sausage and if you’ve never tried deep-dish, Lou’s is the place to start. With Tastes of Chicago, you can get Chicago favorites like Lou’s pizza and Portillo’s hot dogs straight to your kitchen. Tastes of Chicago, 1-800-Lou-To-Go

Philadelphia has its own claim to fame: the onion-laced cheesesteak.  While there has always been intense debate about who sells the best steaks in the city, the famous Campo’s Deli has been dishing out 50 years' worth of sandwiches and they ship.Take your pick of one-, two-, or four-hoagie meals, customized sandwiches, cheesesteaks and more. And of course, get a side of the soft pretzels. Campo's Deli, (215) 923-1000

Finally, create the BBQ feast of your dreams when you order from Jack Stack BBQ in Kansas City. With four restaurants throughout Kansas, Jack Stack is an institution for the finest in smoky and sweet meat. Pick from ribs, burnt ends, brisket or sandwiches.  Or create your own perfect sampler. Jack Stack.(877) 419-7427

Happy eating!