Road Trippin’ Through The South (Summer 2015) PART TWO
My family took a road trip recently to Oklahoma to see our daughter’s long-time boyfriend graduate from Army Basic Training at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma. We stopped at several interesting locations along the way. This series of posts is to document those stops and share what we experienced with all of you.
PART ONE of this series shared our first stop along the way in Nashville, Tennessee. If you want to read that post, click HERE. I will be updating all posts with links to the others in the series.
Our second stop on the trip was in Memphis, Tennessee — home of the Rock ‘n Soul Museum, B.B. King’s Blues Club and Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland. We stayed in Memphis for two days. This post will be regarding our first day there, during which we walked the streets of downtown Memphis, toured the Rock ‘N Soul Museum and ate dinner at the B.B. King Blues Club. Part Three, coming soon, will cover our second day in Memphis and our tour of Graceland.
First up — the Rock ‘N Soul Museum. This was an extremely interesting endeavor and well worth the cost of admission. You start the tour in a small room where you are shown a video all about the evolution of rock and soul music, which includes stories and clips of historically significant music artists who were instrumental in creating these genres of music as well as those artists who came later and built on the genres.
From there you enter the museum to see the many very interesting exhibits. You are handed a headset and a small electronic gadget which works much like an mp3 player, for lack of a better comparison. The hand-held part of this set-up is a very simple one, consisting of a number pad as well as buttons to play or pause the audio component. The tour is self-guided with each exhibit numbered. Enter the number on the handset and you get to hear about the selected exhibit. Very simple, but very immersive also, because you can’t really hear the shuffling of other people’s feet or hear their conversations around you. I viewed a lot of interesting exhibits. Obviously, I took tons of pictures. Here are a few of my favorite parts of the tour.
There were jukeboxes scattered throughout the museum. Some were early, fairly crude versions of this popular attraction in bars, cafes, and other public gathering places. It was interesting to see how these entertainment machines evolved over time. Next to each was a sign like that pictured above. By entering a three-digit number into the hand-held device you could hear the corresponding music selection that might have been played on the jukebox.
I am a huge music lover, so all of the exhibits that had anything to do with music were of particular interest to me. There was an exhibit of old 8-track tapes that caught my eye.
As I was born in the early 1970s I can clearly remember 8-track tapes and the tape deck my father and mother owned during that time. I think I remember Dad having an 8-track player installed in his pickup truck, too. Though memories of him are sometimes hazy. He died when I was ten years old. So, the trauma of that experience caused me to block some memories as my child’s brain tried to process that.
But, in any case, seeing the 8-track tapes in the display at the Rock ‘N Soul Museum conjured up old memories for me and made me smile a bit at the remembrance. My Dad loved country music — George Strait, Conway Twitty, and Eddie Rabbit come to my mind as some of his favorites.
This display of Ann Peebles peaked my interest. She started her music career at an early age, joining the Peebles Choir in 1956 at the tender age of 9. The group was founded be her grandfather. It was while on a trip to Memphis in 1968 that she met a bandleader named Gene “Bowlegs” Miller who encouraged her to try out for Willie Mitchell of Hi Records.
Ann Peebles recorded 7 LPs for Hi Records, engineered and produced my Mitchell. In April 1969, her debut, “Walk Away” climbed to #22 on the Billboard R&B chart. “I Can’t Stand The Rain” rose to #6 and has been covered by artists such as Tina Turner, Patti Labelle, Bob Seger and Missy Elliott.
I absolutely LOVE the Missy Elliott version of “I Can’t Stand The Rain”, though I had no idea it was a cover. The back story of how this song was written was pretty interesting, too. According to the exhibit, which featured an audio recording of Ann Peebles talking about the inspiration for the tune, the song was written on the spur of the moment one night when she and her husband were wanting to go out to a concert. It was raining pretty heavily outside, so they decided to try to wait a bit for the storm to pass before they left their home. Ann said to her husband, “I can’t STAND the rain.” To which he replied that the statement would be a great song title. Before they knew it, they were sitting down working on the song.
There was a B. B. King display featuring some information about the music icon, as well as two of his guitars.
The Elvis Presley display featured information plaques about him, as well as an army uniform and other items.
After touring the museum, we walked the streets of Memphis for a bit. It was raining, so we stopped in a souvenir shop to look around for a while. We didn’t anticipate rain, thus were unprepared. So, we purchased a couple of umbrellas from the shop so that we could walk the area some more without getting too wet. My daughter purchased some postcards at the shop, at the request of her boyfriend’s mother, who is a teacher in an elementary school. She asked us for postcards from each stop on our road trip, to be added to her own trip information and used in her classroom as an instructional tool for her students.
Some Street scenes from downtown Memphis:
We ended the first day in Memphis with dinner at B.B. King’s Blues Club, where we sampled their famous ribs and were treated to some live music. It was a little too loud for conversation, and the noise was a little irritating to my son who had a headache, poor guy. But, I had a great time listening to the live band and looking at creatively framed photos of Memphis legends and area scenes scattered around on the walls.
We had a great first day in Memphis, Tennessee and I was so grateful for the opportunity to expose my children to this historic place. We enjoyed our time here so much that my husband and I both want to return there with our children to explore more of the city.
Stay tuned for Part Three of this series to learn about our second day in Memphis, during which we toured Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland.
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