Walking in Memphis with my feet 10 feet off of Beale is fundamental to the successful completion of my bucket list.
Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee was officially declared the Home of the Blues by an act of Congress in 1977. “Walking in Memphis” is a song by American singer-songwriter Marc Cohn, from his self-titled 1991 album. It has always romanticized my soul to experience Memphis.
I happened upon a forthcoming book (3/30/15) by Memphis music journalist/historian, Preston Lauterbach, Beale Street Dynasty. The book’s subject matter establishes a sharp contrast to the general perceptions held about the most iconic street in America. (USA Today, National Poll)
Robert Church, who would become “the South’s first black millionaire,” he was a mulatto slave owned by his white father. Having survived a deadly race riot in 1866, Church constructed an empire of vice in the booming river town. He made a fortune with saloons, gambling, and—shockingly—white prostitution. But he also nurtured the militant journalism of Ida B. Wells and helped revolutionize American music through the work of composer W.C. Handy, the man who claimed to have invented the blues.
In charting the rise of Memphis, Lauterbach adds to the rich library devoted to the “old, weird America” established by writers such as Michael Ventura, Peter Guralnick and Greil Marcus.