Memphis Tennessee

Memphis is situated along the banks of the Mississippi River just across the border of Arkansas and only miles from Mississippi. It is a city of about 650,000 and ranks sixth in The United States asa center for African Americans. About 65% of the people in Memphis are African American and it shapes the culture and history of the city.

Of course Memphis is known for an unfortunate event in our history; the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. I believe every citizen needs to visit Memphis to experience the emotion of the National Civil Rights Museum. It also important in the history of the Blues. See it performed on Beal Street or explore the history at Stax Records or Sun Studio. Also enjoy some amazing food and barbecue. A great place to visit and explore some original American culture.

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Memphis Skyline

Memphis Skyline

Memphis Skyline

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Stax Records–Soulsville USA

A lot of people if asked, might say Detroit is the home of Soul Music. Hitsville U.S.A. is the nickname given to Motown’s first headquarters. It was purchased by Motown founder Berry Gordy in 1959. However two years earlier Stax Records was founded in Memphis Tennessee. It was later dubbed Soulsville USA.

The Motown and Stax sound were the roots of American soul music. They were more similar than different. However, you could say that the Motown sound fueled by the Funk Brothers was smoother. Stax artists like Otis Redding and Carla Thomas had their roots a little more in gospel and their music was more emotional.

Visiting the Stax Record Museum is a must for anyone visiting Memphis. More than Graceland it explains the soul of the region.

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Soulsville USA

Soulsville USA

Soulsville USA

Soulsville USA

Soulsville USA

Soulsville USA

Beal Street

In Austin it is six street, in New Orleans it is Bourbon Street, in Chicago it is Rush Street and in Memphis it is Beal Street. This is where you go if you want to hear live Music and in most places it is blues music that you will hear.

Memphis is a famous Music City. Most people think of Nashville when they think of live music which is fine if you like country music. However, Memphis is the birth place of soul. Stax Records was known as Soulsville USA and Sun Records is where Elvis Presley and many others recorded.

In 1956 B.B, King moved from Mississippi to Memphis and founded his own record label, Blues Boys Kingdom, with headquarters at Beale Street in Memphis. He opened his first Blues Club on Beal Street which is still serving live music and Barbecue.

After his death B.B. King’s body was flown to Memphis. A funeral procession went down Beale Street, with a brass band marching in front of the hearse, playing When the Saints Go Marching In. Thousands lined the streets to pay their last respects. His body was then driven down Route 61 to his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi.

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Beal Street Memphis

Beal Street Memphis

Beal Street Memphis

Mozart’s Hobbit Hole

Visiting Mozarts house in Vienna was a wonderful experience. Just knowing you were in exactly the place where he wrote some of the world’s most beautiful music was overwhelming.

I looked out of the windows thinking the view was not much different than the view he saw. This door is the entry to the house. I don’t know if it is the original door but the roundness made me think of Tolkien’s Hobbits.

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Mozart’s Hobbit Hole

Mozart Lives!

Every big city has its street hustlers. In NYC there are the guys selling fake Rolex watches, in Honolulu it’s guys selling cruises and snorkel tours but Vienna has its own breed. Many guys of different appearance in white wigs and costumes selling tickets to Mozart concerts.

Vienna is a city of music and every night at multiple venues there are different concerts of mostly Mozart. Mozart is a really big deal in Vienna where he lived for a period. The hustle is the same but it does seem to be slightly higher class.

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Mozart Lives

Grateful Dead–Civic Arena September 23 1973

On September 23 1973 I saw the Grateful Dead perform for the first time. They played at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. You can hear the concert here if you attended the show or are just interested.

They were for a long time one of my favorite bands and I have seen them play a number of times in a variety of venues. This first show was special though not only because of the band but because of the venue.

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Grateful Dead Pittsburgh Civic Arena

Missing Frank Zappa-Syria Mosque 1974

I only saw Zappa play once. It was at the Syria Mosque in 1974 with Sal Valquez, Jean Luc Ponty and the Tower of Power Horns. Truly one of the best shows I ever saw. I miss Zappa and still listen to his music and that of his son.

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© Richard Burke 1973-2012

Zappa Jams Pittsburgh