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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Mississippi River sunset

Getting Down and Dirty at Mud Island River Park

Memphis in May, in its flurry of concerts, barbecue competitions and fireworks, turns all eyes (and ears and taste buds) to the city’s riverfront. This...Read on

Lucero lead singer Ben Nichols turns to the Memphis Symphony Orchestra during their Opus One collaboration. At one point in the night, Nichols shared with the audience, "I had no idea how this was going to turn out, but I had so much fun." And yes, the man can rock just as well wearing a button-up shirt as he can in a t-shirt and camo hat.

3 ways to rock in Memphis

It’s hard to untangle music and history in Memphis. That’s a good thing. For me, the city’s rhythmic roots make the live music experience richer...Read on

During the second annual Stax to the Max, Curtis Warner of Boston's Berklee College of Music awarded six summer program scholarships to students of the Stax Music Academy.

Hear the Memphis Sound at Stax

I like music. And moving to it. So when I visited the Stax Museum of American Soul Music for the first time, I knew I...Read on

Smoke on the water: Memphis in May's World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest pairs the best barbecue with the best river view in the city. Photo by Marvin Garcia. Copyright © Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau 2011 All Rights Reserved.

Come to Memphis in May for music, ‘cue & river views

We celebrate many things annually in Memphis. But there’s nothing else like Memphis in May: a month-long variety show of sorts where music, barbecue and...Read on

All 400 of us at the starting point: Memphis Zoo. Five miles down the road, we'd be in Grizzlies territory.

Don’t just sit there: How to be an active sports fan in Memphis

Unless you’re in uniform, you likely consider basketball and baseball spectator sports. But it’s hard to stay seated when (a) the competition’s getting hot and...Read on

People gathered outside the Lorraine Motel at the National Civil Rights Museum on April 4, 2012.

The National Civil Rights Museum: A Movement That Moves You

I made my second trip to the National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM) last week. It had only been six months since my first visit, so...Read on

Last weekend's battle re-enactments took place across from Shiloh National Military Park according to NPS regulation. But even if you missed the re-enactments, you'll find a heavy schedule of commemorative events planned for the latter park of this week and coming weekend inside the park.

There’s Still Time to Commemorate Shiloh’s 150th

Recently, my fellow blogger Leah Jennings previewed how to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh. She’d heard that more than 6,000 re-enactors...Read on