Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sat 16 Mar - Memphis, TN

Walking in Memphis. Well, first we walked up Union Avenue to Main Street to get onto the $1 tram for one lap of the Riverside loop.

The tram is of the older nature, definitely.
This is where the tram driver sits. You can't really see it here, but the booth is too small and they sort of sit in the doorway.
We complete the tram loop and then get off the tram at the Beale Street / Main Street corner. Here, they were running a talent search for "So you think you can dance". Quite a few hopeful were outside this Saturday morning.
We wander back to the riverfront and yes, Mississippi's water can rise quite high, up to 17 meters here we've been told.
Mud Island and Mississippi with touristy paddle wheelers in the background.
Given the fluctuations in Mississippi's water level, up to 17 meters we were told, the riverfront is more practical than beautiful, but they are trying to do some improvements.
However, the riverfront is not very exciting.
We end up back on Beale Street and Elvis Presley Plaza. Who is that guy in the background?
Oh no, who is that guy in the foreground now?

Beale Street is to Memphis what Bourbon Street is to New Orleans, and the strip is considered the birthplace of modern rock through 1950s rock'n roll.

Police surveillance in a different way below. This was parked at the end of Beale Street and opposite Elvis Presley Plaza.
An institution below...
OK, we giggled at the name of this place.
Something unique for American freeways during the day, this one in downtown Memphis is empty...
We are staying on Union Avenue and as Sun Studio at 706 Union Avenue is just some 6 blocks away, it is an easy 15 minutes walk. Here we are outside that holy shrine of rock'n roll.
Sun Studio has now found its way into the National Heritage Register and there are several plaques outside. Here is one with a list of musicians who have recorded there.
You have to buy a tour to get inside Sun Studio and here is our guide, complete with a "Honky Tonk Angel" tattoo in front. She clearly loved what she is doing and said that she had done it for 7 years now.
The tour takes us first upstairs to a sort of rock'n roll museum. Here is Di in front of some of the exhibits.
Who's the King?
This elaborate piece of machinery was used to press the old Sun Studio 45s.
Cash for Cash... A cheque for Johnny.
45s recorded at Sun Studio. A lot more was on the walls.
After the museum upstairs, we walked down to the actual studio downstairs, pretty much just like it was back then.
And here is the King... NO NO NO...
Hans is holding the same microphone that Elvis used and is standing in the same spot as Elvis, marked with an "x" on the floor.
Air drumming...
Di in front of a photo which was labeled "million dollar quartet" when it was published in a Memphis newspaper back in 1956 after a celebrated jam session between the four.
And this used to be Sam Phillips domain behind that glass. We were not allowed to go in there as Sun Studio is still used as a recording studio today (at night, tourist attraction by day)
That mic.
Di at Marion Keisker's desk. Marion recorded Elvis very first song as Sam Phillips was out that day, that song Elvis did for this mother. Elvis was a shy 18 year old at that time.
And yes, we should mention that even the restrooms have a music theme at Sun Studio...
After Sun Studio, we wander back to our motel on Union Avenue. A bit later just before 3.30pm, we walked across to Beale Street to catch the St Patrick's Day parade.
Here are a few pics from the St Patricks Day parade (of course, St Patricks Day is not until tomorrow 17 March)
Shake your... And check out the ladies in blue.
The Pope (or a lookalike) was blessing the punters with his attendance.
Beads were thrown from the parade participants, lots of them, and we managed to catch a few.
Just before 5pm, we walked a block to the very exclusive Peabody Hotel. At 5pm, they have their very famous duck walk, when ducks who have been in the fountain below since 11am, are marched out of the water, along a red carpet to a lift and then taken to the roof.
Unfortunately, as this event is extremely popular, we had to stand some distance away from the "action" and therefore the pictures were not good enough for this forum.
We include one pic as an overview. The ducks are there, trust us.
After the completed duck march at the Peabody Hotel, we went looking for a place for early dinner and found the place below on 2nd Street that looked popular and fun from the outside.
Lent Central (aka Flying Fish Cafe) had a very interesting interior. The walls were covered with anything and everything to do with fish, including fish on boards (a Billy Bass donation centre) with accompanying fishing stories from the punters. All in good fun.
Flying Fish was very popular and it was not hard to understand why. An extensive menu of seafood and grilled and battered fish, it seemed like everything was good. Hans had grilled rainbow trout and Di has a seafood basket (love the catfish), which was all good and not very expensive.
These two beers are becoming favorites of ours. Beer in the US has improved dramatically since either of us were here last, some 13 years ago.
After dinner, we wander off to Beale Street where the St Patricks party, or perhaps just another Saturday evening, is in full swing. Here are a couple of location shots.
Now, from what live music we have heard in Memphis, the live music here is far superior to the music that we heard live in New Orleans. An observation is that most bands here tend to be predominantly black with perhaps a token white guy. In New Orleans it was the opposite, predominantly white musicians with a token black guy. Could be coincidental...
The band below fit into the Memphis category above and they were very very good. Very funky. In fact, the white guitarist was also excellent, but the show belonged to the two older black singers (one is off stage below). Impossible to not get caught up in it.
The band was so good that Grandpa and Grandma below put in a request for a song, and then proceeded to a bit of "dirty dancing" when the band played it, to the obvious delight of the audience.
We listen to the band for a while and then wander back to Vista Inn on Union Avenue for a not to late night, as the two previous nights had been. One can only assume that the Baele Street drunkeness will get worse as the night progresses. We have to look for that gin soaked barroom queen another night...
Our bead collection for the day...
We are getting old... Good night.


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