Whilst in Memphis there are many music themed attraction to keep you busy. The first one on the agenda was Graceland, home of Elvis Presley. There you get to take an audio tour around the house and grounds, see his car and plane collection and walk through exhibits of his life and career. This was much more fascinating than I thought it would be and you get to walk around the ground floor and basement, the top floor preserved as a private area. The decor is astounding, Elvis certainly had an ‘interesting’ taste in home furnishings. At the end of the tour are the graves and memorials to Elvis and his family that have passed away.
Being on a budget we opted for a supermarket lunch in the car rather than more bbq before we took on Stax Museum. This museum is a memorial to Stax Records and the music that came out on the original site of the record company. The building is not original but a replica as unfortunately the original was demolished in 1989. This was a real eye opener to the Soul music emerging from Memphis in the 50’s and 60’s. Stars such as Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, Sam & Dave and Isaac Hayes wrote and recorded music here. The museum is set up as an exhibit to all the stars of Stax and those that made it possible with, of course, music playing as you walk around. By the end of Stax we were fairly fatigued having spent the whole day wandering around exhibits and museums so we relaxed on the back porch of our AirBnB abode before heading out for some more Southern food, this time ‘Soul Fish Cafe’ on the recommendation of Kelly again. He was on the money again. This time we had some catfish, hush puppies (deep-fried cornmeal balls), slaw and a pork chop.
I had a tip from a friend to try ‘Gus’s Fried Chicken’ and ‘Bar-B-Q Shop’ whilst in Memphis and as luck would have it we drove right past ‘Gus’s’. We stopped in for a few pieces of the best fried chicken I have had (Southern style) before driving on to check out our dinner venue – ‘Bar-B-Q Shop’. Not feeling like dinner right away due to our ‘appetiser’ of fried chicken, we drove to Overton Park for a walk around and some viewing of a classic American university past-time – Ultimate Frisbee. We then settled down to some more ribs at ‘Bar-B-Q Shop’ and they were delicious, again. I feel like the food has really come through for us in Memphis. We even had some leftover to takeaway with us to make sandwiches with the next day for our drive South to Clarksdale.
Our last day in Memphis before the drive South to the home of blues – Clarksdale – began with a bang as our AirBnB hosts were ripping out their kitchen. After breakfast we headed off to another of the icons of American music history, being ‘Sun Studio’. We had a tour of this active recording studio and museum that was home to Sun Studio, set up by Sam Phillips and the place where the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis first recorded. In fact, it was here that Elvis came up with his ‘sound’ and so they say that this place is the true birthplace of rock and roll. It was fascinating to see relics of the early days and in particular to stand in the studio that gave birth to rock and roll. The furnishings are pretty much the same as they were back then as are all the microphones. It is still a working studio by night. After Sun Studio and some pulled pork sandwiches by the Mississippi, we were driving towards Clarksdale, from the home of Soul and Rock ‘n’ Roll to the home of the Blues which started it all.