West TN 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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That's my kid playing DJ Fontana's drums at the International Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Head to Jackson for Three Feel Good Festivals

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Mississippi River Museum, Memphis, Tennessee

New Exhibit & Concerts Rock Mud Island River Park This Summer

I’m feeling that late-summer panic of seeing the first day of school on the calendar and realizing the party’s about to end. In response, I’m...Read on

Image used by permission, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Elvis Week 2013 Rocks Memphis with Concerts, Tours, & Free Fun

If it’s August in Memphis, three things are certain: It’s gonna be hot. (Iced tea or a shivery local beer – Ghost River, High Cotton...Read on


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Weighing in... Photo courtesy of Hardin County Convention & Visitors Bureau.


I just returned from a weekend of boating and camping on the Tennessee River. Note I didn’t mention fishing…that’s because my skill lies in eating...Read on

Sun Studio, Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Dan Ball. Copyright © Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau 2011 All Rights Reserved.

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On At Jerry Lee Lewis’ New Beale Street Cafe & Honky Tonk

Jerry Lee Lewis has played to colossal crowds the world over, and even as he nears 80, you can bet he’ll be on the Beale...Read on

Pretty little rows

Bobby Lanier Farm Park & Market Brings Fresh Food, Live Music to Germantown

I’m in my full glory at a farmers’ market. Over the amaranthine-gray days of winter, my eyes ache for the variegated tableaux of the producers’...Read on