22 March 2009


Two weekends ago I had time to kill by myself in Kentucky so I decided to take a trip to Memphis to see Beale Street and visit some of the music museums. The family and I had been to Graceland and had stopped by Beale to take a couple of pictures. So like a dork I went by myself and stayed at the Graceland Days Inn and visited Beale, ate BBQ, went to museums, and listened to some good music.

When I first got there I checked into the hotel and went down to Beale Street to walk around and eat some good food and listen to some good music. I didn't have a camera with me so I bought a $5 disposable at Walmart so the pictures pretty much suck. But it's better than nothing I suppose. I took more night shots and club shots of the musicians but none of them came out.

Beale Street is "significant location in history and the history of the blues," named after an unknown military hero in 1841, it acted as General Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters during the Civil War. It is lined with jazz clubs and such each with good food and music trying to get you to come into their place. It's probably not really all that interesting unless you're somewhat into music. You can take a virtual tour here.

The first night I visited the Rock n' Soul Museum which was created by the Smithsonian Institution which "tells the story of musical pioneers who, for the love of music, overcame racial and socio-economic barriers to create the music that shook the entire world." It was decent but I liked the others I visited better. Then I had dinner at hte Rum Boogie Cafe which had some decent BBQ and several very good bands.

The next day I went to eat at Pig On Beale which had no music but probably the best BBQ that I have ever eaten. I sort of went there on accident. A friend from high school on my facebook recommended a restaurant with the website of http://www.hogsfly.com/ and when I was walking around I saw Pig on Beale and thought that was what he recommended. Accidental...but I'm glad I went.

These last pictures are an odd sign that I also saw in New Orleans and some goats climbing around on what looked like a kids play area. Not sure what that was all about...

The second morning I went to Stax Museum of American Soul Museum. Apparently it is the only soul music museum in the world and was the recording company for such singers as Otis Redding, Rufus and Carla Thoas, Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Albert King, the Bar-Kays, Booker T. & the MG's, and many others. Unfortunately none of the museums would allow cameras so I could only get pictures of the outside.

According to Wikipedia, Stax "was a major factor in the creation of the Southern soul and Memphis soul music styles, also releasing gospel, funk, jazz, andblues recordings. While Stax is renowned for its output of African-American music, the label was founded by two whitebusinesspeople, Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton, and featured several popular ethnically-integrated bands, including the label's house band, Booker T. & the MG's."

In the afternoon I went to Sun Studio mostly known for being the place where Elvis and Johnny Cash got their start and has been called the birthplace of rock-and-roll. According to Wikipedia: "Sun Studio was opened by rock pioneer Sam Phillips...on January 3, 1950. It was originally called Memphis Recording Service, sharing the same building with the Sun Records label business. Reputedly the first rock-and-roll single, Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats' "Rocket 88" was recorded there in 1951 with song composer Ike Turner on keyboards, leading the studio to claim status as the birthplace of rock & roll. Blues and R&B artists like Howlin' Wolf, Junior Parker, Little Milton, B.B. King, James Cotton, Rufus Thomas, and Rosco Gordon recorded there in the early 1950s...Rock-and-roll, country music, and rockabilly artists, including unknowns recording demos and others like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Charlie Feathers, Ray Harris, Warren Smith, Charlie Rich, and Jerry Lee Lewis, signed to the Sun Records label recorded there throughout the latter 1950s until the studio outgrew its Union Avenue location."

These last pictures are of the hotel that I stayed at. Notice the awesome guitar shaped pool. I had the priviledge of having Elvis watch over me as I slept. And the hotel had two channels completely dedicated to Elvis movies. It was glorious!

No comments: