Deep South Tour


Arrival in Downtown Memphis was far less traumatic than arrival in Nashville.

Traffic in Memphis was much more tolerable and knowing where the Holiday Inn near Beale Street was – right across from the famous Peabody Hotel – we settled in quickly. A stroll two blocks located BB Kings for dinner and more superb live soul and blues. After dinner a further walk down the famous strip that is Beale Street saw us soaking up act after act of live blues. From Nashville to Memphis the metamorphic from country to blues is stark. When did we cross the line? Who cares!

Dream number one was about to come true...

A small trio busking on the street with a PA, drum kit, bass and guitar was lacking a bass player. I saw an unmissable opportunity. I asked politely and was welcomed by the young blues guitarist as his bass man and away we went!! A crowd gathered quickly – obviously fascinated by a white fella grinding out the blues in a black blues band! I busked along through a number of 12-bar shuffles until I felt we had exhausted the young lad's licks and quietly moved on up the street, leaving the bass slot open for the next grateful and fortunate incumbent.

Memphis was the hot spot for satisfying my hunger for music history. A way down the road from the Holiday Inn was the famous Sun Studio (there is only one – it isn't 'Sun Studios'…). Here we stood where Elvis, Jerry Lee, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins had got it all together. Pure magic.

We then strolled back to visit our first of many 'Halls of Fame'. The history came alive. It's all in there, from Dolly to Kenny to Johnny and even Bob Dylan. There was even a gold piano Priscilla gave Elvis as a present. Just across the street was Gibson's Memphis guitar factory. I was officially in heaven… We witnessed how my own Gibson's had been borne. I was reassured. If you own a Gibson you do own a quality instrument!

A trip to Memphis is not complete without seeing where Elvis lived. Graceland is a fairly modest spread by mega-star standards. You could fit the Presley home into George Harrison's Oxford pad about 5 times. However, although I'm not one for nostalgic emotion on a tearful level, seeing rooms that could tell wondrous stories did give me a bit of a tingle. Elvis is laid next to his Mom and Dad in the garden of Graceland. It's a shame folk feel compelled to leave bits of tat around famous folks' gravesides. Never did get that one. (I suspect they have a clear-up every few days and bin a ton of junk!).

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