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West TN Writer

Samantha Crespo

Hi!

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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Ever wondered what happens at a catfish race? Here’s Paris local Jane Sinnema giving it her best. Photo courtesy of Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

World’s Biggest Fish Fry Is Paris’ Biggest Party

In chatting with several residents of Paris, Tennessee, this week, I’ve learned something: Tradition in this town isn’t merely deep. It’s deep-fried. Paris will host...Read on

Morton Museum, Collierville, Tennessee

See These West Tennessee Historic Churches

Remember when I took you to Collierville, Tennessee, recently? I focused on the town’s railroad and Civil War history (and gelato). But I could have...Read on

At the cemetery inside Shiloh National Military Park, some 4,000 soldiers and their family members are buried.

Learn Tennessee’s Civil War History at Shiloh

A 151st anniversary may not have the same ring as a 150th anniversary, but there’s still much activity surrounding Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial. Commemorating Shiloh’s...Read on

Stingrays: Reach in and touch one. Photo courtesy of Memphis Zoo.

NEW at Memphis Zoo: Touch a stingray

Remember how ready I said I was for spring? The Memphis Zoo is feeling it, too. At the beginning of the month, they shifted to...Read on

Stained  glass artwork above Mallory-Neely's front door

Mallory-Neely House Reopens on Memphis’ Millionaire’s Row

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The Dixon in bloom

Bring on Spring in Memphis

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Many of the images displayed at Memphis’ Withers Collection Museum & Gallery are the same ones you’ll see archived by the Library of Congress and incorporated into the permanent collection of Washington, D.C.’s in-progress National Museum of African American History and Culture, a Smithsonian institution. Major purchases by both organizations helped to fund the creation of the Memphis museum and gallery, which opened in May 2011. Image courtesy of and copyrighted by the Withers Family Trust. All rights reserved. No images can be reproduced without permission.

See Civil Rights & Memphis Music through Ernest Withers’ Eyes

You’ve seen Ernest C. Withers’ photographs whether or not you know his name. Last October, they showed in Berlin and draped a building façade in...Read on