Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 9 - Homeward Bound

I 40 between Memphis and Nashville is referred to as the Music Highway.

Memphis - Driving to Nashville TN is on today’s agenda after a breakfast at the hotel in Memphis. But first a drive by shooting of some sights in Memphis.

The following information is from the NPS website:

On April 4, 1968, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated at the Lorraine Hotel, just a day after speaking at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ. Built in 1925, the Lorraine Hotel was a typical Southern hotel accessible only to whites in its early history. However, by the end of World War II, the Lorraine had become a black establishment which had among its early guests Cab Calloway, Count Basie, and other prominent jazz musicians, in addition to later celebrities such as Roy Campanella, Nat King Cole, and Aretha Franklin. Partly because of its historical importance to the black community of Memphis, Martin Luther King chose to stay at the Lorraine during the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike.

In 1890, the Grand Opera House was built on the corner of Main and Beale Streets. The Grand was billed as the classiest theatre outside of New York City. Vaudeville was the main source of entertainment at the time and acts featured singers, musicians and magicians. The Grand became part of the Orpheum Circuit of vaudeville shows in 1907, thus the theatre became known as the Orpheum.

Vaudeville at the Orpheum was successful for almost two decades. Then in 1923, after a show that featured the singer Blossom Seeley, a fire started and the theatre burned to the ground.

In 1928, at a cost of $1.6 million, a new Orpheum was built on the original site of the Grand, but it was a different theatre. The new Orpheum is twice as large as her predecessor and opulently decorated. Lavish tasseled brocade draperies, enormous crystal chandeliers, gilded moldings, and the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ are just a few of its new amenities.

As vaudeville's popularity waned, the Orpheum was purchased by the Malco movie theatre chain in 1940 and presented first run movies until 1976 when Malco decided to sell the building. There was even talk of demolishing the old theater to build an office complex. However, in 1977 the Memphis Development Foundation purchased the Orpheum and began bringing Broadway productions and concerts back to the theatre.

According to the Saint Blues website:
On the street now called Elvis Presley Boulevard, across the way from Graceland, Mike Ladd and Tom Keckler were doing something magical with guitars at Mike Ladd’s Guitar City. Seems whenever these boys laid hands on someone’s guitar, it just played a whole lot better. Hell, they even customized one for the King ordered by his father. You can see him play it in “Aloha From Hawaii”.

I've created some links to some of our photos of the references in this Wikipedia article below.

The Pyramid Arena, initially known as the Great American Pyramid was originally built as a 20,142-seat arena located in downtown Memphis at the banks of the Mississippi River. The facility was built in 1991 and was originally owned and operated jointly by the city of Memphis and Shelby County; Shelby County sold its share to Memphis in April 2009. Its unique structure plays on the city's namesake in Egypt, known for its ancient pyramids. It is 321 feet (98m, about 32 stories) tall and has base sides of 591 ft; it is by some measures the sixth largest pyramid in the world behind the Great Pyramid of Giza (456 ft), Khafre's Pyramid (448 ft), Luxor Hotel (348 ft), the Red Pyramid (341 ft), and the Bent Pyramid (332 ft). It is also slightly (about 16 feet) taller than the Statue of Liberty. A statue of Ramesses the Great stood in front of the pyramid, which was created from a mold of the actual statue in Egypt. In 2011, this statue was leased to the University of Memphis for the cost of $1 and was moved to the campus in April 2012.

It was a cold and grey day as we drove through Tennessee.

We made a stop at the Casey Jones Village in Jackson TN not MS as shown on the sign above.
It was very cold and starting to drizzle as we wandered around.

Here is a great video with the history of Casey Jones and the Wabash Cannonball!

Lunch was at a roadside BBQ diner somewhere along the interstate we had a pulled pork and a brisket sandwich.

At Mile 340, the interstate enters the Eastern Time Zone, and shortly thereafter the road begins its descent of the Cumberland Plateau into the Tennessee Valley.

The GPS was not very helpful as we tried to find our way to downtown Nashville and traffic was heavy but we managed. Again hotels were very expensive and we checked into the Doubletree Hilton based on its good location. We used valet parking as the garage was down the street. We added on some layers of clothing as it hadn't warmed up. The hotel shuttle dropped us on Broadway which is The District a little like Beale St. but it is about six blocks long and the music is all country! 

The entertainment starts at 10:30AM and goes all day long. Again it is customary to tip the musicians.

 When we stepped out it had started to drizzle and then some hail so we went in and out of the shops and crossed to the Rock Bottom Brewery hoping to sample a local brew. We sat at the bar for a while as a lone server busied herself arranging bottles and never making eye contact. Two other people arrived at the bar and given menus. We were still being ignored so we got up and left.

 Lucky us!! We spotted Joe’s Crab House down the street where the servers were pleasant and fun. We had an order of Queen (new to me) crabs and an order of King. They come in a big bucket with an ear of corn and potatoes. Finger licking delicious!!

Some night photos.

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