Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Memphis .. Home of Beale Street Blues!!!

AHA ... fooled you!!  You thought THIS blog would be about Elvis, since we're in his home town, Memphis Tennessee.  In fact, we are parked at Graceland RV Park and Campground, right across the street from Graceland, $40/night (??) ... sorry, I washed my receipt so I'm not sure, for 30 amp full hookup.  Last night, we stopped off at Beale Street, home of Memphis Blues!!  After World War II, as African-Americans left the South, they headed to more urban areas like Memphis, changing the classic jug-band-style blues sound to what you hear today.  
Musicians such as Ike Turner and B. B. King performed here and recorded classic electric blues, and rhythm and blues records.  We walked down the street of the GREATS last night, listening to some amazing blues music still being played.  Luckily we arrived before all the bus loads of people and stopped in at Blues City Cafe for some of the best BBQ ever.  You can really taste the wood in the rack of ribs here!!
Most of the old buildings are still standing, with open bars and food-to-go in every other doorway.  I can just imagine Jerry Lee Lewis hanging out here, along with Howlin' Wolf, Willie Nix AND Elvis Presley.  
W. C. Handy, the Father of the Blues, published The Memphis Blues and is honored with this park where a bunch of guys played for the crowds, just like in the old days.  I wish you could hear them sing and play ... you just can't stand still!!
As the sun started to go down, the place started to get crowded.  Walking down the street is like going back in time ... you can hear the blues coming out of ever doorway.  Down towards the end where a recording studio used to be was another band playing on the sidewalk.  
Here's Jerry Lee Lewis' place.  You can take your picture standing next to his car if you like.  It was rather quiet here, but maybe it's just too early!!
Later in the evening, more lights came on, making for my favorite type of photography ... low light.  Not the best without a tripod, but fun none the less!!  There were a couple of "souvenir" stores, but for the most part, this remains as it was over 80 years ago.  
Mostly bars and restaurants with bands, there are some newcomers ... Sweetie Pies is opening soon!!  Some of the buildings have been lost, but the facias remain, held up by steel girders.  They are trying to preserve this area as best they can.  As you walk along, you can read signs about the greats who walked here, including Ida B. Wells and check out the music notes in the sidewalk with names of amazing artists. 
Ida was born a slave, but emancipated by Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation.  She grew up to become a teacher in Memphis and held strong opinions about women's rights.  She was actually drug off a train kicking and screaming because she refused to give up her seat in 1884.  She sued the railroad, hiring a black lawyer, but lost when he was paid off by the Railroad.  Then she hired a white lawyer and won her case, which was subsequently overturned.  In the meantime, she began an anti-lynching campaign when some of her friends were killed.  She literally began investigative journalism and spent many hours here on Beale Street.  A very interesting lady, to say the least!!
Beale Street is full of lights and music for the soul!!  If you're in the area, be sure and check it out and stop in at Blues City Cafe!!
A tour of Graceland is on the schedule for today, so I better get in gear!!  I spent many hours listening to Elvis and watched every show on TV that he was ever on!!  I never thought I would ever see his home!!

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