Our Musical Journey to Tennessee: Part 1 – Memphis, Home of the Blues, Birthplace to Rock ‘N’ Roll

July was an action packed music month for us. The month started with our vacation trip to Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee. Stay tuned for other music posts about more music events we experienced in July.

I brought along an essential music book to read on the plane, Mystery Train (Sixth Edition) by authoritative music journalist, Greil Marcus. The synergy of this book fit perfect with the music mission. The first chapter was about Harmonica Frank, 1951 (the year of my birth), Sam Phillips and Sun Studio. The book set the stage for the first leg of the music journey, Memphis. There was also a chapter about Elvis Presley but more about the King of Rock and Roll in Memphis later in this saga. ūüôā

The path of American music discovery

A major goal in the music of our heart has been to visit the four homes (birthplaces) of American music, blues, country, jazz and rock n roll. We had previously visited the birthplace of jazz, New Orléans, Louisiana where we saw Preservation Hall on St. Peters Street.

We journeyed first to Memphis, Tennessee to learn more about the home of the blues and the birthplace of rock n roll. We stayed at the Hampton Inn at 175 Peabody Place a half block away from Beale Street.

The music on Beale Street spirited us out of the  hotel and around the block like a pied piper. We saw two blocks of motorcycles lining the pedestrian thoroughfare.

Bikes on Beale

“I’m walking in Memphis,¬†Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale” Marc Cohn ¬©Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Beale Street is a majestic street. We took note of B.B. Kings Blues Club at the top of Beale. We decided to have dinner and catch a show there the next night. We had to pay our respects to the King of the Blues.

From the 1920s to the 1940s, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Memphis Minnie, B. B. King, Rufus Thomas, Rosco Gordon and other blues and jazz legends played on Beale Street and helped develop the style known as Memphis Blues. As a young man, B. B. King was billed as “the Beale Street Blues Boy”.

We had a fantastic dinner at the Flying Fish¬†the first night. It was rated 4.5 stars. The fish was deeeelicious as my great-nephew Blake loves to say ūüôā

The next day we signed up for a day tour of Memphis at the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. We had a wonderful tour guide.¬†Our first stop was Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland. I kept hearing the song, “Graceland” by Paul Simon in my head as we drove to the tourist attraction.

Graceland was a sight to behold. What knocked me out the most about Elvis’s estate was The Jungle Room and the sheer amount of awards he received in his lifetime for music and movies. Truly we were witnessing the King of Rock N Roll’s palace. What an honor it was to see it all.

The next stop on the Memphis tour was Sun Studio. A momentous place where Sam Phillips recorded, Howlin Wolf, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. We didn’t take the studio tour as the place was mobbed. We looked around, took some pictures, bought some souvenirs and got back on the shuttle. Finally got to witness the birthplace of rock n roll.

(RoadTripSports.com photo by Kendall Webb)

I preordered the book that Peter Guralnick has been writing about Sam Phillips for 25 years. My goal is to learn more about Sam Phillips from his close friend. ¬†Peter Guralnick is the definitive Memphis music historian. I can’t wait to get back to Memphis and continue the music discovery.


Nashville Skyline ¬†will be Part 2, stay tuned….

Peter Guralnick, American Roots Music Author, Historian Is On the InterWeb

Peter Guralnick, a noted American roots music author and historian  has commenced a digital publishing campaign. His InterWeb presence is now felt via a new Web site (Tumblr Blog), an Official Facebook Page and e-Book editions of his books.

Peter Guralnick has arranged distribution with  Little, Brown and Company to publish several of his music books in e-book format (Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook).

I am thankful to experience Mr. Guralnick’s published Web presence. I have a deep admiration for Peter Guralnick’s meticulous music journalism sensibilities. He is an authoritative music writer. His writings represent a well curated library that houses our American musical heritage. It is my aim as a music journalist to write with the passion and commitment we receive from Peter Guralnick ūüôā

Web Blog Design

The Tumblr theme chosen for design is minimal, unobtrusive and leverages TypeKit Real Fonts. Typekit is an Adobe company that provides a service which allows subscribers to embed fonts into online documents. Museo Slab is the exljbris Font Foundry incorporated.

“According to Adobe, Typekit is¬†empowering designers to present the power of the printed word in new ways ‚Äď online and on devices.‚ÄĚ

I surmise that incorporating Typekit Fonts allows Peter Guralnick to breathe life and dimension into his written words. I applaud this form of expression as both a reader and Web designer.

I was surprised that Peter Guralnick did not choose WordPress as his blog publishing platform. WordPress (in my estimation) has been the preferred Web domain choice for the author and writing community. But my bias for WordPress is showing here and I must respect Mr. Guralnick’s Tumblr creative muse. Tumblr is a happening technology and a great publishing solution in its own right.

Featured Content

For those of you seeking more depth from Peter Guralnick I am happy to report there is new content available to supplement his books. We gain valuable insights into the music associated with the book¬†Lost Highway: Journeys and Arrivals of American Musicians.¬†There are volume installments of a chapter by chapter YouTube playlist which adds value to our interest about¬†Ernest Tubb, Bobby ‚ÄúBlue‚ÄĚ Bland, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, and Sleepy LaBeef.

Perhaps one day we will have more interactive multimedia digital publishing content where YouTube videos can be published as integrated options within a full hypertext, indexed iBook (I keep watching and wishing for this…)

But for now I can live with YouTube, Spotify and Soundcloud playlists and blogging ūüėČ

Peter Guralnick interviews himself ¬†about what he is accomplishing lately and provides specifics about the Sam Phillips biography he is now rewriting (the first draft is complete). I am¬†pleased to also learn that Peter Guralnick is an eight year professor for a creative writing course at Vanderbilt University. How I would love to be a student in his course. Peter if you ever want to create an online edition of your creative writing course I’d be happy to help you with that project as a fellow instructor and instructional designer.

I am eager for the Sam Phillips biography to be published later this year (fingers crossed).

We welcome you to the professional music blogging community Peter Guralnick. Your leadership role has been anticipated within the community for some time. I can’t wait to read and lean from your future writing efforts.

The Oxford American – Thirteenth Annual Music Issue

I made a great musical find last night browsing at my local Barnes & Noble book store. I saw out of the corner of my eye a copy of Oxford American magazine sitting by its lonesome. It was calling me to pick it up. I noticed that my favorite music journalist, Peter Guralnick had contributed an article, “Sam Phillips‘s Greatest Discovery” to the publication. It’s a story about Howlin Wolf and its reallllllly good!

I have developed a discerning taste for music journalism over the decades. The Oxford American, thirteenth annual Southern music issue surpasses my expectations with its content. It is a treasure chest of well articulated and researched music literature. The publication adds tremendous depth to the importance of our rich American heritage, the music of the South.

One of my major bucket list items is to take an extended vacation on the Southern blues trail(s). The Oxford American is the magazine I will be taking with us on that journey.

So forgive me as I rub my hands with glee here this morning. I have this great magazine to hunker down with and learn from this weekend.

Life is sweet ūüėČ

The Doors A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years by Greil Marcus

The DoorsI love to haunt the stacks in a book store that feature books about music. Whenever I enter a new book store I make a beeline for the Music and Arts section of the store. I will find at least two-three new titles or thumb through old favorite books I don’t own yet.

My two favorite music book authors are Greil Marcus and Peter Guralnick. They are each articulate writers who write authoritative, well researched works. My admiration for their writing stems from their superior command of the music subjects they cover. They each paint a poetic landscape that is captured in stunning prose and incredible descriptive depth. Their passion for music, its artistry and the artists who create the sounds reaches way inside of me.

The Doors

Greil Marcus has released a new book, The Doors, A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, published by¬†PublicAffairs books. The book is receiving ¬†solid press and there are two Web articles in particular about the book, the author and The Doors I want to bring to your attention. One was written two weeks back for the New York Times by Dwight Garner, “Listening Again to Rock’s Wild Child and Finding Grandeur and Dread”. ¬†That article stimulated my interest and I thumbed through a copy at Yale Bookstore on Black Friday.

I didn’t buy it that day but I placed it back in the stack with gingerly care as if to say, “I’ll be back for you someday soon…”

Then today I saw a Facebook share post about The Doors on NPR. “The Doors Prove Strange Days Are Still With Us.” It was a continuation of Greil Marcus and his subject The Doors. So I got to read a chapter excerpt and to hear Greil Marcus’s thoughts about this eternal band I love so much.

So Santa Claus I am adding this book to my Christmas list ūüėČ

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