Upon arrival in Memphis, your brain must do a little stretching and straining as you realize that you are in a town that, among other things: gave birth to the blues, sits on the border of three states, witnessed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, nurtured Elvis, and spawned the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain. Memphis is woven so tightly into the fabric of American culture and history that it would take far longer than the one day I had to even begin to unravel it. I went in for a curious dip and came out thirsty for more. Memphis is, of course, a musical archaeologist’s dream. But it’s also one of those mysterious borderlands…here the south leans west, black meets white…ads for casino gambling and gospel revivals hang uneasily side by side. You may wonder whether it would be more fitting to put on the white gloves for tea at the Peobody Hotel or slide on some leopard skin pants for a boogie-night on Beale Street…
Beale Street is an interesting experience. Here, you can go to the historical district, dine at restaurants, listen to music at nightclubs, tour museums, and go shopping.
Concerning history, this is where singer W.C. Handy performed the first blues song. And because of this, there is a park named W.C. Handy Park on Beale Street. This park provides free concerts, and traveling musicians are present here. Then there is Church Park along Beale Street, built by the city’s first African-American millionaire, named Robert Church. He built it for a safe refuge for African-Americans in the early 1900s. Along with these two parks, there is the Beale Street Walk of Fame (located between 2nd and 3rd). Musical notes are engraved in the concrete that mark the Walk of Fame. This is where some of the greatest Memphis musicians are recognized.