3B’s and More in Memphis

It’s been said that people come to Memphis for the three B’s: blues, booze and BBQ. We came for blues and BBQ, and hadn’t thought of the booze part, since that’s pretty much available anywhere, but all three are certainly to be found here.

Friday night we heard some amazingly excellent blues at the Rum Boogie Blues Hall and Juke Joint. Kind of a scruffy looking place, but the music we could hear from the street was irresistible. Squeezed our way in and eventually found a couple of seats. LOVED IT. Didn’t want to leave.

Rum Boogie Blues Hall and Juke Joint
Rum Boogie Blues Hall and Juke Joint

You can hear blues on Beale Street both night . . . Beale Street Signs

. . . and day . . .

Silky O'Sullivan's Patio
Silky O’Sullivan’s Patio

History is appreciated in Memphis, so there are signs here and there with anecdotes that give some historical perspective. I love the sign below, where a Beale Street merchant is quoted as saying, “What store hours? We never had store hours. When we were here, we were here.” A little more Beale Street . . .Beale Street Sign

Silky O'Sullivan's inside the patio and from the street (above right)
Silky O’Sullivan’s inside the patio and from the street (above right)
Gibson Factory Front Desk with Image of B.B. King's guitar "Lucille"
Gibson Factory Front Desk with Image of B.B. King’s guitar “Lucille”

But there’s more here than the three B’s. The other day we walked across the street and down a block or so to tour the Gibson factory where they make hollow-body and semi-hollow-body electric guitars like the one I inherited from my brother Lennie, so it was great to see the process as well as a beautiful collection of custom guitars hanging on the walls. “Lucille,” B.B. King’s guitar, is possibly the most famous Gibson of all time, so here’s the front desk of the factory.

We also witnessed the March of the Ducks at the Peabody Hotel . . . Peabody Ducks on Red Carpet

Every day at 11:00 a.m. the ducks march (well okay, waddle) from their rooftop “palace” across a red carpet to the elevators, where they descend to the lobby, “march” across another red carpet, and climb a couple of stairs into the fountain. At 5 p.m. the route is reversed. All is supervised and announced with appropriate pomp by the “Duckmaster.” This has become the Peabody Hotel’s signature experience. Hence the souvenir glassware . . . Peabody Duck Stemware

Here’s the Peabody fountain, where the ducks mostly swim around in circles, and a view from the roof . . .

Finally on Saturday, our last full day in Memphis, we had a chance to tour the National Civil Rights Museum, housed in the former Lorraine Motel. It is brilliantly arranged and very powerful. If you get a chance to visit, do not miss it. Absolutely first class.

We left Memphis this morning and drove all day toward our next stop, Santa Fe. Tonight I’m writing this from Shawnee, Oklahoma, but I couldn’t leave Memphis without one last post. We had a great time there, even better than we expected.

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me. ∼Carl Sandburg

Here’s wishing you intriguing adventures, unexpected treats, and excellent versions of at least one B of your choice.

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