Follow this 2013 Memphis Music Hall of Fame Itinerary
The second class of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame (#MMHOF) will be inducted Nov. 7, 2013. You can attend – the induction ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Gibson Showcase Lounge in downtown Memphis (tickets begin at $50; call 901-205-2536 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for yours). The ceremony’s sure to be stacked with musical performances and tributes to the new 13-member class. So…who are they? I’ll do you one better: I’ll tell you who they are AND where to go to channel them:
Day 1 Get to Sun Studio when it opens at 10 a.m. for a cup of coffee and a spot on the 10:30 a.m. tour. Your tour ends in the studio where inductee Johnny Cash recorded “I Walk the Line” – ask your guide to demonstrate how the song’s percussive guitar sound was rendered. (Two blocks from Sun Studio, inductee Roland Janes, the guitarist-cum-producer who’s worked with musicians from Jerry Lee Lewis and Bob Dylan to Al Kapone and John Paul Keith, continues producing music at Sam Phillips Recording Studio. You can drive by the studio at 639 Madison Ave., but no tours are given.)
Sun Studio runs a free shuttle downtown where the Gibson Beale Street Showcase and The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum meet. Call ahead to reserve a weekday tour at noon, 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. to see luthiers at work inside the Gibson Beale Street Showcase.
After your tour, cross the street to the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum to see and hear the complete Memphis music story, covering music-makers from Delta bluesmen to modern rockers like ZZ Top (a 2012 MMHOF inductee, by the way). Studying the museum’s exhaustive playlist alone is worth the trip.
From The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, make the short walk to Beale Street for a MMHOF scavenger hunt. Along the Beale Street Brass Note Walk of Fame, you’ll find the names of 2013 inductees like Rev. W. Herbert Brewster, who managed to publish 200-plus songs, including Mahalia Jackson’s first hit, “Move On Up A Little Higher,” while serving as pastor of South Memphis’ East Trigg Avenue Baptist Church; the Memphis Jug Band, a fluid ensemble that played whatever was available – mandolin; kazoo; fiddles fashioned from broom handles and string – from the 1920s into the 1930s; and the Newborn Family, whose son, pianist Phineas Newborn, Jr., became a national jazz treasure.
Day 2 Consider purchasing a Memphis Hop shuttle pass to get to Graceland and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music (plus a slew of other stops; available Tuesday through Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.). Graceland serves a reminder of what really moved Elvis: gospel music (the genre accounts for The King’s only GRAMMY® wins, and to hear Lisa Marie Presley share memories of her father singing hymns is seriously sweet). Elvis loved gospel so much, in fact, he flew 2013 inductees The Blackwood Brothers from a tour date to sing at his mother’s funeral. (This family gospel quartet formed in 1934. Billy Blackwood, son of founding member James Blackwood – and a former opening act for Elvis, performs with the group to this day.)
Next, groove on over to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music to learn all about 2013 inductees The Bar-Kays (the former Stax Records house band that continues making music today, with some 30 albums to its name); Albert King (hear him smoothing out “Born Under a Bad Sign” here); David Porter (the legendary writing partner of 2012 inductee Isaac Hayes, Porter’s prolific solo career features songs written for 2012 inductees B.B. King and Jerry Lee Lewis); and Carla Thomas, who, with father/2012 inductee Rufus Thomas, was the first artist to cut a record at Stax.
Bonus: You could nod to 2013 inductee Knox Phillips at his father’s studio (Sun) or along the Beale Street Brass Note Walk of Fame, where his note was cemented just this July. But I suggest paying your respects at Stax, where the exhibit And The GRAMMY® Goes To Memphis showcases GRAMMY® awards and instruments of regional artists (Otis Redding, B.B. King and Elvis Presley, among others) plus rare footage and photos from the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy®, which Knox Phillips was instrumental in developing. The exhibit runs Oct. 24, 2013-Oct. 31, 2014.
When night falls, board Memphis Hop for The Peabody Memphis, where 2013 inductee Kay Starr sang with the Joe Venuti Orchestra.
Over drinks, scour the latest Memphis Flyer for upcoming performances by Steve Selvidge, Sons of Mudboy or any of these Archer Records artists. If any of them are performing while you’re in town, GO. It would make 2013 inductee Sid Selvidge proud.
Until you visit, here’s some suggested listening:
- Memphis Music Hall of Fame Spotify mix
- Archives of Beale Street Caravan, the international blues broadcast founded by Sid Selvidge
Who’s your favorite inductee among MMHOF’s Class of 2013? Tell us in the comments section below.