Memorial Day Weekend 2016

Memorial Day Weekend 2016

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USA! The United States of America!

Memorial Day: A Day of Remembrance!
Originally it was called Decoration Day. A day when Americans went to cemeteries and placed flags or flowers on the graves of the war dead. It was a day to remember ancestors, family members, and loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice and died in service for the United States of America. Waterloo, New York, was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, but over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of the holiday. Decoration Day was created during the Civil War to honor the dead. It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years and many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of the day. At many cemeteries, the graves of American war dead are increasingly ignored or neglected while backyard barbecues and a three day weekend are now the only celebration of the holiday.

FRIDAY

Our “three day weekend” began on Friday afternoon.

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Friday Lunchtime!

Lunchtime! Quesadilla with red pepper salsa, avocado, celery & carrots, persian cucumber, dill pickle, strawberries, blueberries, mango and an iced espresso

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Dinner with a friend at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in North Hollywood. We been here before and you can read about it (See our Previous Blog! Search Box: Mucho Mas^^^^^)

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Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in North Hollywood, California

On The Menu: 2 beef tacos, a cheese enchilada, Mexican rice, refried beans, a green salad with ranch dressing, fresh made tortilla chips & spicy salsa and a Dr Pepper.

DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!
Memorial Day Weekend in Los Angeles is a “Maximum Enforcement” period by local law enforcement to combat drunk driving. On our way to NoHo we saw LAPD Metro cops on motorcycles already patrolling the San Fernando Valley. Once again we were the designated driver, so we didn’t drink any alcohol before dinner or at the restaurant, so our friend could enjoy his beers and stay safe in North Hollywood.

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Neon Clown Drive-by at Circus Liquor in North Hollywood

SATURDAY

Chore Day! Laundry and Spring Cleaning! We spent most of the day trying to clean and get organized. We are on a mission to get rid of the clutter and stuff we don’t need.

We finished and posted a new Blog about the “Slugfest in Hollywood” on Tuesday: the Dixie Hollywood Hotel, Dinner at Susan Finegar’s Mud Hen Tavern and The Cure at the Hollywood Bowl”.

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Saturday Lunchtime!

Lunchtime! Sesame bagel with hummus and persian cucumber, dill pickle, avocado, carrots, celery, red grapes, blueberries and an iced espresso.

A beautiful sunset in the San Fernando Valley:

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Saturday Sunset in the SFV – San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, California

And a pretty boring Saturday night at home…

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Dinner: Enchilada Nachos!

Dinner: Enchilada Nachos! Used the leftover Mexican food from last night: cheese enchilada cut up with the rice and beans and then more cheese over tortilla chips with taco bell hot sauce. “Life is short, make it saucy!”

And we watched “The Intern” with Robert Deniro and Anne Hathaway on HBO. A cute film about a 70 year old retired business man (played by Deniro) who interns for a successful online women’s clothing company owned by a young, overworked woman with an adorable young child and a “stay at home” husband (played by Hathaway). The cast is rounded out by a crew of young, nerdy “Tech Bros” and Rene Russo as the company masseuse.

It’s really a romantic comedy without the romance between Deniro and Hathaway, adding Rene Russo as the hot, younger old person and love interest. It was a fun movie with a great cast, but the happy ending was kind of lacking in resolution and could have been much better! Deniro got to chew on the scenery and play a custom tailored part and that’s what he’s great at. Hathaway is a terrific actress, and this role mirrors her part in “The Devil Wears Prada” as a young and successful working woman conquering adversity.

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CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY!

And we ate some Hot Tamales to better simulate the “movie theatre” experience.

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Hot Tamales!

We also did a little Periscope viewing too. We watched The Cure live from Washington and Steven Brody Stevens killing it and rockin’ comedy at the Improv on Melrose.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY!

FOLLOW Good Guy Steven Brody Stevens on Periscope and Twitter: @Brodyismefriend

And then we worked on laying out this Blog until we got tired and fell asleep.

SUNDAY

We slept in and then made breakfast/brunch.

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Sunday Breakfast – Bacon and Eggs!

Sunday Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with cheese & hot sauce, bacon, English muffins with peanut butter & raspberry jam, nectarine, orange juice and an iced espresso.

And we were going to do stuff today and then we turned on HBO and saw they were running a marathon of “The Pacific”, the under appreciated follow up to “Band of Brothers” in honor of Memorial Day. It’s a great period piece about World War II and the war against the Japanese. So, we didn’t watch all 10 hours, but we did watch…and worked.

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Hot Dogs! Sunday afternoon with the dogs in the backyard:

We were invited to go to the movies, but passed because we didn’t want to see the film and we hate going to the theatre on weekends or holidays because there are just too many people, and all it really takes is one person with a cell phone to ruin the experience for me. So, we stayed at the home office and someone brought me dinner!

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Sunday “To Go” Dinner delivered: Orange chicken, steamed rice, sautéed vegetables from The Cheesecake Factory and a Dr Pepper. Tasty “comfort” food makes me happy.

Sunday night “must see TV” on HBO: New episodes of “Game of Thrones”, “Silicon Valley” and a previously aired episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”

SPOILER ALERT! 

“Hold the door!” We waited all week for this episode of Game of Thrones. Last week’s episode “The Door” was excellent. And sad. And emotionally involving. And as always, there are so many story lines running that each episode feels incomplete…
And so, with great anticipation we waited and watched this week’s episode.

Do you think Hodor will return as a wight?

NOTE: “Silicon Valley” is “genius” humor.
This week’s episode was pretty great. Oh the Bachmanity!

MONDAY – It’s Memorial Day!

Grapefruit, coffee, leftover cold orange chicken for breakfast and then back to bed…

The annual “Band of Brothers” marathon on HBO was interrupted by a LIVE televised Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit at noon!

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“Band of Brothers” is a 2001 American war drama based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1993 non-fiction book. It is based on the true World War Two story of the men of Easy Company from the US Army 101st Airborne division who fought in Europe during the war.

NOTE: We’ve seen “Band of Brothers” in it’s entirety a couple of times. So when a social media alert was broadcast about another LIVE high speed pursuit in Los Angeles, we switched over and began watching the car chase.

Memorial Day Holiday LIVE Televised High Speed Pursuit:

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit in Southern California

The French Open was rained out so NBC stayed on the chase that started at about 10:30am… Stolen vehicle: a silver KIA Sorrento SUV with an “impaired” driver on surface streets in East Los Angeles. We picked up the pursuit at noon as the suspect got on the empty freeways and continued driving for almost 3 hours. NBC commentary was complete speculation and stupidity, so we switched over to ABC and then KCAL9 (our local CBS affiliate). Please just the facts, not ignorant newscaster’s uninformed opinions!

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit in Southern California

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit in Southern California

And Fox 11 had coverage too:

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit in Southern California

At 1pm, KCAL 9 and FOX both cut off their news coverage and returned to regular programming, so we switched back to ABC and NBC because KTLA 5 News didn’t pick up the chase at all for their one o’clock broadcast. And just after 1pm he ran out of gas on the 405 near the Long Beach Freeway, smoked some more meth in the car and then surrendered without further incident to the California Highway Patrol.

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit – 405 South near the Long Beach Fwy

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Memorial Day High Speed Pursuit – Suspect in Custody!

Just another holiday Monday in Los Angeles! And with the suspect in custody and the chase over at 1:30pm, it was time for lunch.

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Monday Lunchtime!

Monday Lunchtime! A bacon, lettuce and cheese sandwich on challah bread; dill pickle, celery, carrots, blueberries, red grapes and pineapple juice.

Afternoon CHILLIN’ in the backyard and more episodes of “Band of Brothers” while getting some work done in the office was how we spent the rest of the day.

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Monday Memorial Day Holiday Chillin’ on the Backyard Patio

We worked, we cleaned, we played with the dogs.

And then we got hungry and went to see what ingredients we had for dinner. We decided to make some pasta and did a little fancy cooking in the kitchen:

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Dinner on Monday: Spaghetti with garlic alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, stir-fried broccoli & sautéed onions and a coke.

Where did the three day weekend go? Mostly boring. We hope you had a good one!

REMEMBER THE FALLEN! Some gave all so you could BBQ in peace.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

All photos copyright 2015-2016 JoshWillTravel

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Here’s a better pic of the Circus Liquor’s Neon Clown in NoHo:

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Neon Clown at Circus Liquor in North Hollywood, California

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Chipotlé Burrito Test!

Chipotlé Burrito Test!

Believe it or not, I’ve never had Chipotlé. There are so many good Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that chain restaurant “fast-food” from Chipotlé was never a “go-to” option.

We had a Coupon (and it was about to expire on May 1) for a FREE Burrito, Burrito Bowl or Order of Tacos at any Chipotlé Mexican Grill. And there’s one that opened up relatively recently in Encino on Ventura Blvd and we’ve wanted to try it for awhile now.

NOTE: We’ve been hesitant to eat at Chipotlé because of the recent “food-borne” illness news reports centered on the restaurant chain, which is why we call this a test.

So, Wednesday evening at 7pm we stopped and picked up an order “TO GO” for dinner on our way to our friend’s place in North Hollywood.

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There’s metered street parking on Ventura Blvd (8am-8pm) but you can’t park on the street between 4-7pm because it’s an ANTI-GRIDLOCK ZONE during “rush hour”, so there’s drive-in underground parking (which we can’t tell you about because we parked on the street just after 7pm).

The restaurant was clean and bright with a big letter “A” health rating on the front window which was good. It wasn’t very busy and there wasn’t any wait to order, which is always of concern at fast service restaurants where the food sits and waits for a customer.

The young guy behind the register said hello from across the empty front area as we entered. The young woman who prepared the order was very business-like and efficient, but not very friendly (and she shorted us on the steak…yes we noticed that sneaky move!) as she quickly made our Burrito Bowl.

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On The Menu: A Burrito Bowl with 1/2 chicken, 1/2 steak, 1/2 black beans, 1/2 pinto beans, 1/2 brown rice, 1/2 white rice, hot sauce, guacamole, lettuce and a large flour tortilla

NOTE: We read a food article about “How to get the best value at Chipotlé” which said that if you order the Burrito Bowl with 1/2 of each ingredient, you will get more food than if you order a Burrito or a Burrito Bowl with single ingredients. And of course you have to get the guacamole (on the side) for a “small additional charge”.

We exchanged the food for the coupon and took it “TO GO” We drove over to our friend’s place and ate after we arrived, so the food traveled in the car for about 15 minutes. We removed the lettuce from the bowl and heated the meat, rice and beans in the microwave for a minute to get it hot again. We emptied the contents of the bowl onto the tortilla, added the guacamole, took a few pics, rolled it up into a very large burrito and promptly ate the whole thing (except the lettuce, which we didn’t eat at all) and it was okay. Not great, but we were very hungry so it was good. And the price was right, it was FREE.

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“Rub-A-Dub-Dub Thanks For The Grub!”

We would eat there again, but it still wouldn’t be a first choice for “fast casual” Mexican food, It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great. It was okay and it was an okay value. There was a lot of food in that large burrito and we don’t feel sick the next day.

Chipotlé Mexican Grill16350 A Ventura Blvd., Encino CA 91436
818-808-0816 chipotle.com

Copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

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NOTE: My own homemade steak soft tacos the previous night were much better!

Taco Tuesday! Steak soft tacos with 2 kinds of cheese, grilled red onion, flour tortillas, brown rice, refried beans, lettuce, fresh guacamole, salsa verde, tortilla chips and a coke

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We like to cook fresh Mexican at home. We enjoy Cuban food from Versailles and casual Mexican food from El Torito and Poquito Mas. And every once in awhile we’ll eat at Taco Bell or Del Taco, although that doesn’t really count as Mexican or real food.

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” to Read about Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in North Hollywood (previous Blog)> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-2Vc

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We like to eat at Mucho Mas in NoHo. And we also like to call, order and pick up a very large and tasty Chicken Burrito with rice and beans “Gringo Style” (with melted cheese and red sauce on top) from Las Fuentes Mexican Restaurant on Vanowen just east of Reseda Blvd in Reseda for about the same price as Chipotlé:

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We got recently got one “TO GO” with fresh made chips, a large avocado salsa, and a variety of different salsas from the salsa bar and we made the fresh guacamole at home before going to pick up the order.

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Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in North Hollywood

Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in NoHo (North Hollywood)

Friday night in the beautiful San Fernando Valley with friends
and where shall we eat?

MUCHO MAS in North Hollywood! Mexican food (“gringo style”) for dinner!

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Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in NoHo

The neon lights welcome you! On Burbank Blvd east of Vineland, just across the border of North Hollywood and in the City of Burbank is a great Mexican restaurant, Mucho Mas.

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Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in NoHo

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“No Shoes, No Shirt, No Dice!”

The place is a CLASSIC “gringo style” Mexican joint, with wagon wheel chandeliers and bunch of grapes lighting fixtures in addition to the neon exterior signage. Brick, plaster, wrought iron, wood and ceramic shingles with velvet paintings and “kitchy” rustic “South of the border” type decor combine to make you feel as if you’re actually in Mexico!

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The Bar at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in NoHo

There’s a small bar with a dining area, an outdoor patio and an “L” shaped dining room with comfortable booths and wooden tables. The menu is traditional “gringo style” Mexican food with additional house specialties (there’s a menu page pic below).

Start with a shot of tequila or a margarita!

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Tortilla Chips & Salsa with a Shot of 1800 Tequila and a lime wedge

ON THE MENU: Fresh and warm tortilla chips & salsa, a shot of 1800 tequila and a Grande Combination: green salad with ranch dressing, 2 beef tacos, a cheese enchilada, (with an added chicken tamale) and Mexican rice & refried beans.

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Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in NoHo

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Menu Page from Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant – Grande Combo #16

 

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Mucho Mas Green Dinner Salad with Ranch Dressing

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Mucho Mas Grande Combo: 2 Beef Tacos & Cheese Enchilada w/Rice & Beans

You get a lot of food for $13 and the drinks are very reasonably priced! They have beer, wine, hard alcohol and cocktails on the menu and nice food and drink specials during the week and at off hours.

We’ve been coming here regularly for a while now. The food is good, the prices are very reasonable, the service is pretty good, parking is free (there’s a small parking lot and plenty of street parking), it’s not too far from my friend’s house and we never have to wait for a table. So, if you’re in NoHo and hungry and want some good “gringo style” Mexican food, I would definitely recommend trying Mucho Mas!

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Margarita on the Rocks

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Velvet Paintings! Joaquin Murrieta we think…He’s watching you!

Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant10405 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601 www.muchomasrestaurant.com  818-980-0300

All photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

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Circus Liquor’s “Neon Clown” – Burbank Blvd & Vineland Ave in North Hollywood

Saturday Night! Mexican food, Blues music and BBQ in Pasadena, California

Saturday Night! Mexican food, Blues music and BBQ in Pasadena, California

So you’re probably wondering about the title….here’s the story:

We got invited to see and hear a blues band play in Pasadena on Saturday night at a place called Big Mama’s Rib Shack. I was not responsible for the planning or execution, once again I was a passenger along for the ride.

Someone may have told someone that the Rib Shack’s food wasn’t good, so the plan was to eat before the show and the decision was to go for Mexican food.

Two Tacos at La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant

Take the 101 freeway south to the 134 east past Glendale and into Pasadena. I wanted to take more pictures along the way, but “stupid” traffic had us running late to dinner. We finally arrived (only ten minutes late) at the restaurant and found a good parking spot on the street right out front.

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LARGER PIC

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La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena

The restaurant is a relatively small place, with simple Mexican decor, and it quickly filled up with people once we were seated. We ordered drinks and then perused the menu.

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La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena

 

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La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena

 

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La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW A LARGER PIC

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It’s a standard Mexican restaurant menu with tacos, burritos, enchiladas and the usual appetizers and entrees. EXCEPT THE FOOD IS GREAT! IT’S REAL MEXICAN FOOD! 

On the Menu: 2 crispy tacos, one shredded beef and one chicken, two chicken enchiladas in mole sauce with rice & beans, chips & salsa and a margarita pre show!

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Margarita – with a lot of tequila!

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Two Crispy Tacos – One Chicken & One Beef with Chips & Salsa

Really good crispy tacos! Excellent Mole sauce! Gringo style Mexican food done right!

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Two Chicken Enchiladas with Mole Sauce and Rice & Beans

I was told that we would be eating at the show later, so I didn’t try a burrito, a combo or the Fiesta platter of appetizers…and I would happily go back. They also have an “All you can eat” Taco special that I would like to try.

We finished eating and then motored across Pasadena to Big Mama’s Rib Shack.

Blues & BBQ at Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena, California

Go north up Lake Avenue, past The Hat (really good pastrami sandwiches) and Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, and you’ll come to Big Mama’s BBQ Southern Country Rib Shack.

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Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena

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Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena – Southern Country BBQ

The building’s not much to look at and the interior design is “whacked”. There are white vinyl booths on one side, tables in the middle with both plastic and wood chairs, and a beer & wine bar in the corner of the dining room. there was an area cleared as a stage (but no stage) next to the bar and a small area for the band’s merchandise as well. They have Saturday night performances, but it’s not real design as a performance space at all.

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Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena

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Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena

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Heineken

Here’s the menu: pork, chicken, seafood or beef, beer, wine and soft drinks and a full list of classic BBQ sides. Tickets were $20 for the show and dinner was also required, so we ordered food, with the plan to take home a good portion for lunch on Sunday.

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What’s on the Menu at Big Mama’s Rib Shack?

On the Menu: BBQ Baby Back Ribs, mac’n’cheese, hush puppies, cornbread muffins, collared greens, yams & Heineken beer

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RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LARGER PIC

BBq dinner

There were only two servers and a bartender covering the crowd, so we ordered before the first set and the food came during the performance before the intermission. And contrary to what we had been told, the food was good (not great, but good) country BBQ.

8:00pm – SHOWTIME!  John Németh and his blues band from Memphis, Tennessee

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John Németh from Memphis, Tennessee

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He Brought His Many Harps! (Blues Harmonicas)

I checked out the merchandise and the band’s setup before the show. I had never seen or heard the band before, but when I saw the collection of harps I knew it was going to be a good show. And I was not disappointed, the music was great!

John Németh and his blues band played two rockin’ sets of Chicago and Texas inspired music. He really is a master of the harp (blues harmonica) and his backing band was tight! The guitar, bass and drums were well rehearsed from playing gigs all over the country. At one point in the second set a guest bassist ( a former band member) stepped in for a few songs. I periscoped three of the songs and links to the live performance videos are located below.

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RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LINK AND VIDEOS>

Rockin’ Blues on Periscope> view on YouTube

More Rockin’ Blues on Periscope> view on YouTube

Even more Rockin’ Blues on Periscope> view on YouTube

The “JoshWillTravel AdventureScope” is now available on Youtube!> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoP3QQfRTfD-2eABWVd-JwQ

The John Németh website> www.johnnemeth.com

John Németh’s Upcoming Gigs! Check them out if you can!

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La Fiesta Grande1107 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030 (I’m told the Colorado Blvd location is closed)

Big Mama’s Rib Shack1453 N. Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104 http://www.bigmamaspasadena.com

All photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

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RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LINK AND VIDEOS