Memphis really comes alive in the dark- the city has an energy like nothing I have ever experienced before.
We decided to head to the famous Beale Street for the evening. Beale Street was a significant location in the city’s history, as well as in the history of blues music. From the 1920s to the 1940s, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Memphis Minnie, B. B. King, Rufus Thomas, Rosco Gordon played on Beale Street and helped develop the style known as Memphis Blues. B.B. King was even billed as “the Beale Street Blues Boy”!
We hadn’t even arrived at Beale Street and I already made my first new friend for the evening, our cab driver, Russell. He told us all about his life, family and Memphis, which was quite an accomplishment considering it was a 5 minute car ride. He was born and raised in Memphis and was very intrigued by our road trip. He used to be a truck driver and had been lucky enough to see America from behind the wheel. I was sad when our time together ended because I would have enjoyed chatting with him some more.
When we got out of the cab I was surprised to see a police blockade just before the entrance to Beale Street. Oh no, did something bad happen? We were stopped by the cops, carded (to make sure we were over 21) and searched for weapons. Interesting start to the night. My second new friend of the evening was a very friendly police officer named Bill and he informed me that 1. he could tell I wasn’t from Memphis. 2. He used to live in New Orleans 3. He’s single/available (good to know) and 4. they have to do this on Beale street on the weekends because people were getting too rowdy, very drunk and oh, yeah SHOT.
Shot?! Well, that sounds very bad.
After making it through security we were officially on the main drag of Beale street and it was filled with people, flashing lights, commotion, restaurants, music, bars and blues clubs- my kinda place. I was most definitely drinking the Memphis kool-aid at this point and I was high on it. Our first stop for the evening was Blue’s City Cafe– their tagline reads “Put some south in your mouth”. HA. Don’t mind if I do. In my everyday life (when I am not traveling the country with my best girlfriend) I don’t usually order ribs for dinner but you can’t go to Memphis (the land of delicious BBQ) and not eat ribs, right? At least that’s what I told myself when I ordered a huge rack with baked beans and coleslaw. Did I mention I am eating my way across America?
I am embarrassed to share how many I ate but I will say that they really were scrumptious!
After dinner we strolled Beale Street where I continued my public speaking tour and stopped to chat with everybody and anybody. So many nice people in Memphis! This may have been when Rachel started to become a tad annoyed with me for wanting to chat with everybody.
As we passed the venue Blues Hall amazing blues music poured out so we ducked in to hear some more (I’m sure Rachel also thought this would keep me quiet for a bit. Wrong!).
Enter in THE MOST amazing man I have ever met- Dr. Feelgood Potts. I mean his name says it all doesn’t it? Not only was he wearing harmonicas strapped to his chest as if they were bullets, he had an incredible voice and a stage presence that did not disappoint.
While perusing the internet for a video of Dr. Feelgood Potts for you, I came across this gem. Not only do you get the pleasure of hearing his music you also get to watch a man in a white baseball cap dance to his music. You’re welcome.
In between sets I chatted with my third and fourth new friends for the evening, a father and son team next to me at the bar. They happened to be traveling across the country as well! Although they were doing it in a huge RV and were very confused how we were doing it in a Jetta.
At this point I did not think Memphis could get any better. I was full with ribs, good music and joy and I didn’t want the night to end. But we had to get some sleep so we would be ready for the amazingness that is Graceland the next day.
We hailed a cab and we were picked up by my fifth new friend for the evening, a cab driver named William. He must have been near seventy and he was wearing a camel colored suit with a little silk hanky tucked in his pocket. Memphis just got better. William asked what we were doing in Memphis. I told him about the road trip and he smiled. He shared that he too traveled the country when he was a young man. He was born and raised in Memphis and he had to get out because it was too hard to be living there as a black man at the time. So he packed his car and set off to explore in search of better things. He ended up back in Memphis and now has a huge family and one great-grandchild (whom he was very proud of). I found his tales heartwarming.
When William dropped us off at The River Inn he wished us luck on our journey and it meant so much.
I merrily climbed into my big, plush and cozy bed at The River Inn (a far cry from the Motel 6 the night before) and went to sleep feeling deliriously happy.
Eat. Drink. Boogie. Repeat
“We’re going to Graceland!!” up next….
To see Rachel’s blog click here!
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