Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hoofin' it at out of Memphis and through the Ozarks

If you have good taste, and I know you do since you're reading this... you must love Otis Redding, soul genius and you probably weep for Wilson Pickett. These two favorites first got their start at Stax Records, which you can read more about here, along with many other musical masters, including the Bar-Kays and Isaac Hayes. While Motown pumped out classic hits that safely satisfied the masses, Stax recording artists sang from their guts, with sweat and tears all over the microphone. The studios flourished pre MLK assassination, sort of went down in the dumps after that and was later revitalized by Hayes' career. There is now a museum where the greats once recorded with tons of memorabilia. It's deceptively large, but worth the wandering. 

The Peabody Hotel is a Memphis institution, well, the ducks in the lobby are. I ran in to see them, I thought they were just statues of ducks, but no, they're actual ducks. I think they march them around once a day or something. I have to say, when I saw they were alive, I was tickled. I felt like one of the kids, gawking and pointing.  

I swung by Goner Records, which was in our neighborhood, and I chatted with the guy that worked there, a big dude with tight pants. I bought the new Oh Sees album - it's awesome. They had a pretty great selection of records, old and new. Later at Hi-Tone Cafe, we saw Memphis artist Jack Oblivion perform with the Tennessee Tearjerkers. They went on 2 hours late, but they really packed the room and turned it out. It's not entirely my cup of tea, sort of late 90s rock scene, southern style, but the performance was worth waiting for. The funny thing is that I ran into the dude that worked at Goner there and I saw the guy who let us into Stax for free (because they were setting up for a show) and who gave me a compliment on my Flying Burrito Bros shirt. I made friends with an absolutely hilarious guy from Denver who made me laugh and laugh. He mocked me endlessly and we talked about his garden and the cross-country motorcycle road trip he took in '87. 

We stayed at Pilgrim House which is a hostel in the First Congregational Church. It's located in the Cooper Young area, surrounded by great cafes. It was dirt cheap at $15 per night and all you had to do was a chore a day. The place was set up dormitory style, but it was pretty empty, so we had room to spread out. The people there were lovely, though young. They're mostly college students who work for lodging. The church was hosting an event when we were there, Bands not Bombs, because, like in Miami, the Congregational Church is the center of their Peace and Justice Network. This was the center of all the bike riders and the borderline hippies. I was thrilled to have found it. 

Arkansas is out of this world beautiful. I kept wondering why there were trees growing out of water, but it was flooding from all the recent rains. I even saw a few shacks submerged. It was sort of overwhelmingly green and wet. I would love to get up there again for a few days of outdoor fun. The state was also very well kept with no littering signs all along the highway. Little Rock was tiny and clean and I took a much needed pee in the massive and attractive Clinton Presidential Center. Go Bill. 

The ducks are REAL!
Hi Tone used to be where Elvis took karate lessons. That's him there with Master Kang Rhee.


LVS said...

Great post! Thoroughly enjoyed it!

Emily Sue said...

Jealous you made it to Stax, it was closed when I was there b/c the front was totally destroyed in a major storm.
LOVE the new OhSees album, good driving music for sure.
Jealous about pretty much everything. That's it.