Memphis Writer

Samantha Crespo


I’m Samantha Crespo, and I am Floridian by birth, Tennessean by heart. Growing up, I vacationed in East Tennessee, so I committed forested hikes and hidden waterfalls to memory. My Southern-bred mama biased my palate toward black-eyed peas and cornbread at an early age. And, the music! I always did have an ear for Dolly.

I’m lucky enough to live in my dream state now; 2012 marks the beginning of my third year in Memphis. Some of my favorite things about my Tennessee hometown are kicking around its galleries and gardens, traveling to outlying farms (pick-your-own peaches, in particular), discovering the region’s wilds and waters on my family’s RV and boat, and listening to live music in my neighborhood. Through my blog about West Tennessee, you get to come with me. Are you ready for a West Tennessee adventure?

Describe your perfect Tennessee day.

It starts slow, over the latest Southern Living and a mocha from Otherlands Coffee Bar in Memphis’ Cooper-Young District. It’s warm (my perfect day, remember?), so I pile peaches and tomatoes into a basket at the area farmers market, then join my family at Dixon Gallery and Gardens for a stroll abloom and some family studio time. Later, we walk from our home to historic Overton Park and its Old Forest Trail, where we laugh as we turn fallen trees into balance beams. By nightfall, I’m relishing the farm-to-table goodness of Trolley Stop Market before hitting my neighborhood dive, the Hi-Tone Cafe, to rock along to my favorite Memphis band, Lucero.

Where’s the first place you’d take a friend visiting Tennessee?

Sun Studio, where the tour guides are devoted to the music (and often have the hair to prove it). I love witnessing the aha on friends’ faces when the guides tell their tales, like the one forever connecting the studio and Ike Turner to the “invention” of guitar distortion. Even better, I like watching friends react when they find themselves in Sun’s shoebox of a recording room, sagging ceiling above, knicked-up floor below, and betting who’ll be first to start jittering when the guide cues “That’s All Right.” The tour literally lays a beat down that sticks with you the rest of your time in Memphis, and long after you’ve returned home.

If you could meet one historical Tennessean, who would it be and why? (This can be someone still living.)

There’s a part of me that craves sitting on a garden bench with Rachel Jackson (Andrew Jackson’s beloved), to hear her side of that legendary love story. But, in all honesty, I’d just about explode if Dolly Parton invited me over for a tour of her wardrobe and a sing-along. Seriously, Dolly, if you’re reading this, I’ve loved you since I was a little girl. Let’s get together!

Stories By Samantha

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Set in Memphis’ historic Overton Park, the Brooks Museum of Art is the region’s oldest and largest museum, featuring changing exhibits alongside a permanent collection of paintings, prints and sculptures representing the 13th through the 20th centuries. Photo by Baxter Buck. Copyright © Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau 2011 All Rights Reserved.

Opposites Attract at Memphis’ Brooks Museum

You might think it imprudent to take a child to a museum exhibition featuring works in glass. Not at Memphis’ Brooks Museum of Art. I...Read on

Outside The Dixie in Huntingdon. Photo by Kristi Corbin.

The Mountaintop Comes Home to Memphis

It’s so easy to talk music in Memphis. But today, let’s talk theater. Break a leg and all that. Our conversation starter is: Katori Hall....Read on

Earlier this year, the restaurant at downtown Memphis’ Madison Hotel was reinvented as eighty3, a concept cultivated in part by Chef Frank Fronda. Fronda’s career spans California to New York, where he worked in the kitchens of the Metropolitan Opera House and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Andrea Zucker. Copyright © Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau 2011 All Rights Reserved.

Your Guide to New Year’s Eve in Memphis and West Tennessee

There was a time when the approach of December 31 sent me into a tizzy planning giddy, glittery nights out. These days, I’m content celebrating...Read on

Terry Mike Jeffrey and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra will re-stage Elvis' Aloha from Hawaii concert on Jan. 5. Image used by permission, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Wish Elvis Happy Birthday in Memphis

Think back to your last birthday. How many people showed up to party? How long did the celebration rage on? How many symphonies, giant cakes...Read on

Do you have what it takes to be a Gibson tester? Photo by Andrea Zucker Copyright © Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau 2011 All Rights Reserved.

Rock On: Inside Memphis Guitar Factories

Over the life of my blog, we’ve ventured into Memphis music studios, shrines and stages. Today, let’s add another dimension to the Memphis music experience:...Read on

Note the red velvet drapes on the right: They're an original holiday addition Elvis made to the Graceland living room. Image used by permission, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

What to Do This Holiday Season in West Tennessee

The way I see it, you can’t improve much on the portrait of West Tennessee as a string of pretty-as-a-picture small towns stretching out from...Read on

As long as you're choosing Memphis-brewed beer, you have my permission to drink your calories. Here, a small sampling of the eight beers regularly on tap at the city's Boscos Squared brew pub. Photo courtesy of Boscos.

Memphis-brewed Beers Bring Flavor to West Tennessee

You’ve probably been too distracted moving along Beale, South Main and Elvis Presley Boulevard to consider what’s under the streets of Memphis. So, I’ll tell...Read on