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Monday 8 Sep 2014
Memphis Tennessee, USA

Memphis meanderings

Walked downtown after breakfast via a fine, tree-lined Main Street avenue.
Visited the Rock 'n Soul museum, off Beale St. - a Smithsonian production all about the origins of both black and white music from these parts and the merger of the 2 styles. Comprised a musical video history in a small cinema followed by an audio and visual tour of the exhibits and of the music, performance costumes and living styles from the poor cotton pickers etc to Elvis and Jerry Lee and beyond. This included the styles of the day etc eg Jerry Lee costume + Elvis + original wireless sets + old jukeboxes and Coca Cola machines etc.

Followed this, just across the road, with a guided tour of the main Gibson Guitar factory in Memphis. Thousands of guitars were all in various stages of hand-made manufacturing/development. The very large and dusty industrial factory employs 80+ people. Each guitar takes about 3 -4 weeks to make. They finish 50 - 70 guitars per day. Each is spray-painted etc by hand and this final process takes a week to fully complete. Guitar electrics are only added at a final stage ie after the complete body has been sealed so it requires special tools to fit electrics thro' the very limited access points in the guitar bodywork.

Went on a tour of local music shops and met an ancient old dapper guy in full stage regalia with white/black shoes trying to sell his blues cd                                 while dancing around a shop... Him - not me.

Had lunch above Alfred's bar off Beale St with some tasty southern fare. Was asked for my ID before they would supply a drink : but not because I looked less than 21 years of age ! Server said they check ID because if your (US) ID has been clipped (via a judge - for a drink-related offence), it means they are not allowed to serve you....... Didn't sound too no other place carries out these checks.

Walked back along the Mississippi waterfront to view the paddle-steamers etc. The sun was beating down mercilessly.

Memphis seems less attractive than Nashville and feels more threatening. Altho' the hotel area and riverside seem very nice with fine buildings and restaurants etc, would not be too keen walking around town late at night, as sometimes a stranger moseys on up and mumbles something to you......and you mumble back and quickly move on....just like in Cowdenbeath.

In evening, went a walk downtown. Had a drink in a bar with an expert honky-tonk piano man who said he could play any tune whatsoever.
Bumped into a random Falkirk couple on a flight/train tour / honeymoon and had a brief friendly dispute with them on independence.

Went into a Creole restaurant. Decided against the alligator tail stew and had jambalaya instead. A Glasgow couple (fae Strathbungo) on        a 2 week flight/cruise holiday sat at an adjacent table ! Can't escape !

Note: after Elvis visit tomorrow - Tuesday, there may be fewer opportunities for regular internet access, as the wagon heads south.               

No final route plan or hotel bookings have yet been made for the period Sept 10-14 inclusive

 ie until the New Orleans hotel is reached on Mon 15th Sept.

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Travel blog by viajero2601


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