22 October 2016
A bit later departure today at 8.30am but I still had to get up early to have my bag ready by 7.00am. We drove for two hours before the morning stop at Jackson - near the Casey Jones Museum, which we didn't have time to look at. There hasn't been any beautiful scenery on this tour, unlike the Canada tour: trees along the highways block any view. We watched a doco/movie about Elvis along the way.
Lunch break was at a shopping mall on the outskirts of Memphis. we made a stop at the information centre in Memphis, located next to the Mississippi River. The centre had large statues of Elvis and BB King. Memphis is known for three kings: Elvis, BB King and Martin Luther King. Next we visited the pace where Martin Luther King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968. The motel is now part of a museum - you don't need to go into the museum because the assassination site is outside and there are information boards.
At 4.00pm some of us were dropped off for part one of an optional excursion (that means it costs extra money) at Sun Studio. The tour of Sun Studio was fabulous. This little studio is where Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis made their first recordings. A teenage Elvis paid to make a recording, hoping that his talent would be discovered but it took a year before he was noticed. There are Xs on the floor: the sweet spots for recording. The guide told a story about one tour he was doing: Bob Dylan walked in the door, knelt down and kissed the X where Elvis stood to record, and walked out again. Nobody famous came in while we were there, but we did get to take photos with the only remaining original microphone.
The following photo is known as the Million Dollar Quartet. It was taken in 1956 at an impromptu jam session with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash at Sun Studio. We heard a little bit of the recording.
We were picked up at 5.00pm and taken to the hotel. The day continued with part two of the excursion ... at 6.45pm we were back on the bus for a night out in Memphis. Beale St is where the bars and blues music continue late into the night. There was a strong police presence at the ends of Beale St; our Tour Director advised us not to walk back to the hotel after dark. Nashville was quite safe at night but Memphis has some problems.
We had dinner at the King's Palace Cafe, which was accompanied by a guy playing some music and singing the blues. He got everyone to join in singing and clapping along, and some people were up dancing. It was a great atmosphere.
We also had a free pass for the Rum Boogie Cafe (all the bars have a cover charge), where we went to listen to some blues. The music was good and the Rum Boogie Cafe was interesting - small, dark, crowded with guitars hanging on the walls and ceilings. Not a late night, we were back at the hotel around 10.00pm. This was a fabulous night out but I was glad to be back at the hotel ... this was my third night out in a row. I would have loved to stay and listen to the music but I was tired!