October 30, 2015

The first few months working at Hey Joe's were pretty intense.  To be fair, they were extremely intense.  It turns out people don't really like it when it's your first day on the job, and you start telling them what to do and how they do things aren't right.  But in doing so, you'll find out which employees are there for selfish reasons (the ones who just want a paycheck or tip money) and those who are there to actually help a new business get its feet off the ground.  I yelled a lot to get my point across.  Sometimes it was necessary.  Sometimes it probably wasn't.  Sometimes it worked.  Sometimes it didn't.  At a point, I questioned my entire existence and thought long and hard about whether or not I had just made the worst decision in my entire life.  But, I knew for sure that I believed in everything Hey Joe's represented and what it meant/means for the Delta. 

Growing up in Clarksdale, we'd have to travel to Memphis to watch original bands play.  With my group of musically inclined music-fan friends, we traveled to countless shows in Memphis.  Most of the time, it was long time family friend, Gary Griffin, who would drive us to the shows.  After which, we'd all get giant Mountain Dew fountain drinks.  I'm sure it was probably pretty annoying listening to 13-year-olds on caffeine highs ramble on about how awesome Nirvana is... Or whatever... at 11 at night.  My first show ever was a show Gary took us to at the The New Daisy Theater on Beale Street in Memphis in 1998:  Squirrel Nut Zippers and North Mississippi Allstars.  Later in life... Like 8 years later in life, the band that I play in, A Scarlet Empire (.com), opened for North Mississippi Allstars.  We'd also go on to play a show at our former favorite Memphis venue, The New Daisy Theater.  In attendance, just like old times, Gary Griffin.  Everything had come back full circle, but that's a different story for a different day. 

All you need to take from the previous paragraph (other than the shameless self band promotion) is that there was/is no other place in the Mississippi Delta to catch original rock bands on a regular basis other than Hey Joe's.  Also, there isn't any group as dedicated to creating, organizing, planning, and promoting events by way of a non-profit organization called Keep Cleveland Boring which stemmed directly from Hey Joe's.  Take Hey Joe's out of Cleveland, and you take Cleveland off the map.  I'm convinced of it.  What I'm saying is to buy a lot of hamburgers.  It will directly support the community in more ways than you can imagine... Take, for instance, this fine piece of literature that you're currently reading... 

Now, when I first got here, I couldn't have imagined what all I'd have my hands in present day.  But, when I made the decision to stick it out past those first six grueling months, it was because I knew that there was more to Hey Joe's than meets the eye.  I wanted take part in it no matter what the pay was, no matter how much time would be required to make things right, yattidy yadda, etc... I knew the place deserved a certain respect from the community and represented so much more than every day folks would consider...  My dedication was deeper.  Coming back to the Delta to manage the kitchen in Hey Joe's in a way allowed me to be a 13 year old kid again, freaking out about countless titles from countless unheard of bands and to do so in the place that raised me.  In Iowa, I had learned a specific set of skills to insure respect for Hey Joe's from the staff.  Step one wasn't to find out "how much will I get paid?"  It was to find out how to "make them believe."

To be continued...