Recollections of a Journey Through the Deep South
Part I - The Itinerist

copyright 1995 by Monte Nordstrom
from issue # 18 - Cosmic Debris Musicians Magazine - June '95

In late 1992 I decided it would be advantageous to my career (and my biography) to attend "THE SOUTH BY SOUTH WEST" Music Conference in Austin, Texas. I had just released a cassette album called "NOTHING MORE BETTER" and was shopping the material around. I had raised enough capital with local tape sales to finance a promotional trip so I decided to go south.

The SxSW Convention is held every March and was in it's ninth year at the time. I had met the SxSW promo team at the Music West 92' Conference in Vancouver and had decided at that time to apply for a showcase. I put together a promo kit, sent it off with my application and then set about making travel plans.

I found the cheapest flight by calling all the airlines' 800 numbers. I chose American and make my reservation (for about $550 U.S.). When the SxSW info update arrived I selected a hotel from their listings and reserved a room for a week at $65 U.S. per night. A few weeks later I was informed that my showcase application was rejected but I decided to attend as a delegate anyway and to extend my visit to include a few more musical destinations.

Looking at an atlas I realized that with a combination of ground travel and a return flight adjustment, I could make the six-day trip to Austin into a ten-day junket for a relatively modest outlay. I contacted Greyhound, Amtrak and American Airlines and made the arrangements. I would take the bus from Austin to San Antonio, staying overnight to catch Amtrak's "Sunset Limited" to New Orleans. I had sent for a tourist info packet from the Louisiana state tourist board and from it reserved an inexpensive room in the middle of the French Quarter. My train journey would then continue from New Orleans to Memphis on the train they call "The City Of New Orleans" (really, that's what it's called)!

The route north goes by Lake Pontchartrain up through the heart of Mississippi arriving in Memphis late in the evening. I reserved a room two blocks off Beale Street (right across from the Peabody Hotel - around the corner from "The Rendezvous"). One of the sponsors for SXSW was a Memphis based publisher so I had them send me a copy of "The Memphis Magazine City Guide" with listings for nightclubs and tourist spots like B.B. King's Blues Bar, Graceland and Sun Studio. I then called long distance information, and said, "Give Me Memphis, Tennessee." What a Hoot! I got the number for Sun Studio and booked two hours of recording time at $85 U.S. per hour. OUCH! I had to do it.

Finally there would be a three hour trip on the Hound to Nashville where I reserved a room just off music row at the "Days Inn Vanderbilt". I re-adjusted my return flight to depart from Nashville and surprisingly the fare was the same. My trip was completely pre-arranged using 800 numbers and my Mastercard. The only items to be done en route were two bus trips and a lot of taxis. I was having fun and I hadn't even left yet!

Note: Monte Nordstrom has produced over 75 demos and has recorded 8 albums to date (Nov '99). He performs regularly at numerous venues on Canada's West Coast.
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