Walking in Memphis: Roaming the famous Beale Street

The first time I was in the South I was amazed by the friendliness and hospitality everywhere. No wonder they say folks ’round these parts have loads of  ‘southern charm’.

I was telling Cowboy all about this when I got back home from that trip as he works in the restaurant biz and he’s so much like these southern folks (he’s got the ‘Northern’ charm!). So I was pretty sure he’d fit right in down here. Somehow, though, he thought I was insulting him (I guess I do that often sometimes haha!) so he thought I was saying: “Hey dude, you should go down South sometime so you can finally learn what good service is all about.”

HA! We’re still laughing about this many years later so as soon as we arrived here in the South the teasing began (naturally… boys!). While sitting in a restaurant in Nashville he says:  “Man, I’m SO glad I’m here. Now I can finally learn how to give excellent service at my bar.” HA! (he’s a riot act).

After our awesome Tour of Sun Studios here in Memphis, we headed to Graceland to set up our tent. Yep, we’re going to be sleeping on Elvis’s property tonight (we’ll be touring Graceland tomorrow).

If you’re a hardcore Elvis fan (and you love camping) you’d love it here. The lanes in the campground are all named after Elvis’s songs: ‘Don’t be Cruel Lane’ or ‘Hound Dog Boulevard’ and ‘Jailhouse Avenue’.  Cheesy, but fun. And if camping ain’t your thing, don’t worry as the ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ is right around the corner!

IMG_4317 When Cowboy we were done setting up camp, it was time to check out Beale Street- the popular downtown strip in Memphis that’s lined with blues clubs and restaurants. I changed into my blue suede shoes (er, I mean cowboy boots) and we were off to do some walking in Memphis.

Flashback to a few years ago: My friend Al and I arrived on Beale Street and I was shocked at how dead it was. It sure didn’t look like a major tourist attraction (it almost looked like a ghost town). But it was mid summer (low season) so we didn’t realize the street doesn’t come alive ’til dark.

Sure enough when we came back later, it was much busier and there was even a Biker Fest going on in the street. Sweet! It’s not every day you get to see tons of cool bikes and hang out with a bunch of friendly bikers. They even let me sit on their bikes (good times!)

208643_10152079954765601_1074411339_n                                                   My first time on Beale Street in 2008 for Bikerfest

There wasn’t a Bikerfest going on this time ’round but I am here with Cowboy, who looks like a Biker (but don’t worry, friends. He’s not really a biker…just in case you were getting worried for my safety n’ all)

When Cowboy and I arrived on Beale Street our stomach’s were rumbling so we decided the first order of the evening was to grab some grub. We chose Silky O’Sullivan’s, an Irish pub right on Beale Street, mostly because we’d both worked in an Irish pub before. And it also had a nice looking patio.

This pub was housed in a historic building that was built in 1891, but only the facade of that building remains since the rest of it was destroyed in a fire a few years ago.

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But back in its heyday, this place was a bustling saloon that was open 24 hours a day and had as many as 14 bartenders working at any one time! It was also part hotel that quite popular with famous actors during that tiem, and there was a poker room and a horse racing area inside it too. If you could time travel back to the late 1800’s (sorry, I’m a time travel freak) this was probably thee happening spot to hang out in while visiting Memphis.

Not so much anymore.

It was a bit busy, but barely enough for one bartender, let alone 14. We found the service a little slow but everyone was really nice at least.

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The food, however, was really good. I had a fancy salad which was chock full of fresh veggies  and Cowboy’s Po’ Boy sandwich was excellent (I stole a bite when he was distracted… Shhhh!).

IMG_4206 Cowboy loved that his sandwich came with a bag of chips, it made him feel like a kid again (well, everything makes him feel like a kid again hehe).

IMG_4196 I really liked the lights and decorations in the patio,  it looked a bit like fireworks (but without the loud bangs). It was very festive and colourful, giving the patio a fun atmosphere.

10303376_10154252222725601_6808342450214785333_n We heard later that if you come here, you have to be aware of the ‘diving goats’. Well we didn’t see any of those, thankfully. It is a bar after all, and is likely chock full of drunks later at night. Poor goats wouldn’t stand a chance. But apparently there are actually live goats hanging out  on the patio sometimes. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see their ‘diving tower’ on the right side of the patio.

When we were leaving we this sign on the window and Cowboy was a bit disappointed he didn’t try the ribs. But he loved his Po’Boy sandwich so he didn’t shed too many tears.

IMG_4236 After grabbing a bite, we headed back onto Beale street and wandered through the crowd.

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IMG_4250 Then it was time to find some great live blues music. There are plenty of great spots on Beale Street, but we decided on B.B Kings for our first music experience in Memphis.

167140_10150389705535601_2307808_n It was only 5 bucks to get in and I heard that occasionally B.B King shows up, much to the delight (and surprise) of the crowd. I’m sure it’s not that often since he’s a busy guy, but that would be pretty exciting if he did show up. Either way, we figured a place with his namesake would mean the music’s gotta be pretty good. 

We guessed right.

10406661_10154252222290601_867811863861857525_n We sat at the bar and enjoyed a local brew while listening to the music. The stage was right across from the bar so we had a great view of the band which was called the  ‘ B.B King’s Blues Club All-Star band’. They were fantastic and had us all rockin’ to the smooth harmonizing music of Motown. The 8-man line had everything: vocalists, bass, drums, guitar, keyboards and of course, horns for the jazz-y touch.  We were incredibly impressed and amazed they were only charging $5 cover for such amazing show. 

IMG_4286 We chatted awhile with the bouncer outside after the show was done. He was very friendly and offered to take our picture under the sign. Can’t go to BB King’s bar without this picture!

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10420183_10154252222435601_4973477025728830158_n

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IMG_4248 We finally decided to call it a night and headed back to our campsite at Graceland, knowing that the sun (or screaming kids… whichever comes first) would wake us up too early. Plus we wanted to tour Graceland before leaving Memphis tomorrow, so we wanted to get an earlier start. (well, early for us anyway).

Graceland…Graceland, we’re going to Graceland…… 

 

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4 thoughts on “Walking in Memphis: Roaming the famous Beale Street

  1. Pingback: I Spent the Night at Graceland! | The Roadtrip Cowgirl

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  4. Pingback: Bourbon Street, Music and a Carousel Bar! New Orleans, Part 2 | The Roadtrip Cowgirl

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