A music lover’s information to Memphis
Set the radio dial to WEVL-FM, 89.9, our all-volunteer native radio station. We’re about to drive you to the spots within the city that gave start to rock ’n’ roll and is filled with soul.
Friday Night time
Begin off within the Edge district, the place you’ll be able to snap some images exterior Sam Phillips’ studio, possibly catch a verse or two of Lucero’s band follow after which tour the legendary Solar Studio. The tour guides, a lot of whom are musicians — like Mark Edgar Stuart — are top-notch and the tour solely lasts about half-hour. Sing a number of bars into the microphone Elvis used and be taught slightly about Memphis’ superb musical historical past earlier than diving headfirst into ingesting and consuming.
Edge Alley is a brief stroll from Solar Studio and provides breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Every little thing is constituted of scratch and is on the wholesome facet. Attempt an unimaginable house-roasted cup of espresso, a signature cocktail, a glass of wine, or a regionally crafted beer from the adjoining Excessive Cotton Brewing Co. earlier than heading to Beale Road.
Sure, Beale Road. Whereas most locals keep away from it, there’s actually no good cause to. It’s the one place you could rely on listening to stay blues seven nights per week. Must you arrive earlier than sundown, head to B.B. King’s Blues Membership and take the again stairs as much as Itta Bena eatery and benefit from the magnificent blue mild from the bar. After darkish, your finest bets for real-deal blues are Blues Metropolis Cafe, Mr. Useful’s Blues Corridor and the Rum Boogie Cafe. The Absinthe Room, above King’s Palace Cafe, is a lesser-known spot and an excellent place to flee from the gang and benefit from the view.
The actually adventurous can stroll again over the pedestrian and rail Harahan Bridge throughout the Mississippi River to CJ’s Blues & Sports activities Bar on East Broadway in West Memphis. Inform Clem I despatched you. And take money.
Hit Earnestine & Hazel’s on South Most important earlier than you name it an evening. This former brothel is the closest factor we now have to an old-school juke joint downtown exterior of Beale Road. If there’s not stay music, you’ll be able to rely on their jukebox for Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “I Odor Bother” and Jimmy Reid’s “Aw Shucks Hush Your Mouth.” Don’t neglect to take a look at the upstairs and have a drink at Mr. Nate’s bar. In fact, get a well-known Soul Burger to take in slightly of the evening’s alcohol earlier than hitting the sack.
Get up early and head to the Arcade Restaurant for breakfast. Sit in Elvis’ sales space and get a giant order of candy potato pancakes, eggs, bacon, hash browns and a regionally brewed Wiseacre Gotta Get As much as Get Down espresso milk stout.
If there’s a wait, jump over to the Blues Corridor of Fame on Most important Road only a few blocks down. It opens at 10 a.m. and is the proper 30-minute detour to see clothes, devices and different memorabilia of well-known musicians from Mavis Staples to Johnny Winter. (The annual Worldwide Blues Problem Jan. 8-Feb. 1, 2020, is a wonderful time for music lovers to plan a go to.)
Spend the remainder of the morning knocking out yet one more “should do” touristy factor: Stax Museum of American Soul Music. The intro video is 20 minutes lengthy and the self-guided tour takes about an hour. Expertise a modest nation church, a dance ground with disco lights, a legendary recording studio, each file ever recorded at Stax and Isaac Hayes’ glittering customized Cadillac Eldorado. The reward store is a good place to load up on information, books and T-shirts.
Different close by sights embrace Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios, one of many oldest repeatedly working recording studios on the earth and residential to the famed Hello Information and the Hello Rhythm Part. It’s possible you’ll catch Boo Mitchell on his manner in or out, however it’s not open to the general public. Nonetheless, throughout the road is Hattie’s Tamale & Grocery, the place the tamales are made recent day by day. (Between the shop and the 4 vans, Hattie’s sells about 2,000 a day!) Constituted of beef and wrapped in paper, the Delta-style tamales come scorching or delicate. Get some to place in your cooler or your lodge fridge. They style nice chilly, and are rather less messy.
Subsequent, drive into Midtown and flick through a number of homegrown file shops. Goner Information in Cooper Younger has its personal label and places on among the finest festivals of the 12 months — Gonerfest — the final weekend in September. After you top off on new and used vinyl, stroll a number of blocks and snap a photograph with the newly erected Johnny Money statue, proper subsequent to the church the place he held his first public efficiency. It will put you inside a number of blocks of Payne’s, the favourite barbecue cease of Sonic Youth once they recorded with Doug Easley. Payne’s is thought for its mustard slaw and barbecue bologna, however you’ll be able to’t go flawed with something on the menu.
Shangri-La Information, in close by Overton Sq., buys, sells and trades LPs, CDs, DVDs, 7”/45s, 78s, books and magazines, sheet music, musical and stereo gear, turntables, and music and popular culture memorabilia. There’s additionally an honest probability it’s having a celebration with stay bands within the parking zone. Just some blocks away is Ardent Studios, the place a number of the finest music in fashionable historical past was and continues to be being produced.
Overton Sq. has loads of eating choices, however in line with the weekend’s theme, strive Coletta’s or Mortimer’s for dinner. Coletta’s is among the metropolis’s oldest Italian eating places and one other favourite of Elvis’. It’s recognized for its barbecue pizza, and the South Parkway location has among the finest old-school bars on the town in addition to an Elvis Room. Mortimer’s requires a fast journey east, however is a should for Huge Star followers. The proprietor is Chris Bell’s sister, and there’s a devoted Huge Star room simply subsequent to the bar. Often known as the Berclair Nation Membership, Mortimer’s offers you a style of blue-collar class. The fare leans towards Cajun, however the menu has slightly one thing for everybody.
Saturday evening ought to supply various alternatives to expertise stay music. In the summertime and fall, the Levitt Shell in Overton Park hosts a free out of doors live performance sequence that’s widespread amongst locals and guests alike. (Enjoyable truth: The Shell is credited with the “first-ever rock ’n’ roll present,” due to a 1954 efficiency by Elvis.)
The Inexperienced Room in Crosstown Concourse is one other nice possibility for a low-cost/high-interest efficiency. What was as soon as a Sears Tower is now a bustling vertical city village filled with inventive choices. With artwork galleries, eating places, a bar and a brewery, it’s a excellent spot to spend the night.
Be among the many first to breathe life into an outdated hang-out. Dale Watson not too long ago restored Hernando’s Conceal-a-way, which was as soon as known as Jerry Lee Lewis’ “workplace” as a result of he performed there so typically. Completely happy hour, stay music, nice burgers and fried catfish are on the invoice.
Night time owls ought to head to both the Hello Tone, B-Aspect or DKDC for late-night stay music. Wild Invoice’s is one other old-school, cash-only juke joint for extra blues and assured dancing. The close by Alex’s Tavern is a beloved dive bar with two jukeboxes, a number of televisions, a well-known Greek burger and equally widespread Greek wings, an excellent workers and no official closing time.
We advocate sleeping in, after which sipping a pour-over at Low Fi, which spins vinyl on Sunday mornings. Round 11 a.m., head to the Full Gospel Tabernacle, higher recognized regionally as Al Inexperienced’s church. The congregation is greater than welcoming, as vacationers and music-loving locals are frequent guests to the Sunday service. Rev. Inexperienced, who arrives round midday or noon-thirty, will both be wearing a colourful gown or a darkish swimsuit and sun shades. Don’t anticipate him to bust out any of his high 40 hits, however he’ll most assuredly break into track together with his seven-piece band (drums, piano, guitar, bass, keyboard, bongos, maracas) and color-coordinated choir backing him up. Tithing is inspired. ($20 per individual is an efficient rule.)
Al’s church isn’t too removed from Graceland, so pop over for a selfie on the entrance gates, write your title on the wall, or hey, take the tour!
Earlier than heading house, make sure you fill your stomach with some soul meals. The 4 Method Inn or Jim & Samella’s Home are each stable bets. They’re each more likely to be crowded, however undoubtedly definitely worth the wait. In case you’ve made it to Sunday and realized you didn’t eat sufficient barbecue, make your final cease Cozy Nook, a couple of mile from the Interstate 40 bridge, for one in every of its well-known barbecued Cornish hens or some rib ends for the street.
The place to remain
The brand new Central Station Resort (by Hilton) was designed with music lovers in thoughts. The foyer incorporates a large album cupboard for vinyl information, every of which is related to Memphis ultimately. A stay DJ spins a collection of the 40,000 songs from afternoon to nighttime. Songs can be heard within the guestrooms — a playlist for the day and stay music present listings are left exterior the door every morning as a substitute of a newspaper. (Name for availability earlier than Dec. 22, e book on-line afterward.)
Across the nook from Graceland is singer Dale Watson’s Airbnb, Lil Graceland, which rents for $160 an evening. It incorporates a Jungle Room and “Wat-Solar Studio” within the basement. There’s a stable ’50s really feel on the Airbnb, however it has the entire facilities a contemporary traveler wants: cozy beds, loads of plugs and TVs, and even Alexa. Ask concerning the two Airstream trailers within the yard if the dates you need are booked. Watson and his spouse, Celine Lee, have a number of vacationers staying there in addition to bands coming by means of to file.
Coming with a gaggle? Take a look at one other Airbnb itemizing: “A present from Elvis to his physician” sleeps 14 visitors to the tune of $800 an evening.