We finally arrived at the Music City Hostel, Nashville mid afternoon on Friday and got ourselves settled in (which meant finding the first supermarket we could buy some beer). A load of people at the hostel were having a bbq which they invited us to so we also picked up huge chicken thighs and a slab of steak which was cheaper than a burger! Apparently 1.5 miles is too far to walk with beer and steak… silly us. We got back, whacked it on the grill and chilled out with a few beers and some good company. Once well-fed (and slightly tipsy) the instruments started coming out and Andrew’s ukulele was quick to join them. At its height the jam session comprised two guitars, a banjo, a washboard, a ukulele, two harmonicas and a drum and when on well into the night….
The next morning… ish… we started the day with a homecooked pancake breakfast (or lunch?) with inch thick pancakes! We took a bus (wisely) into downtown where we found that the party was already in full swing! We headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame which was rhinestone-tastic, slightly tacky, and totally awesome. By now, feeling thirsty, we decided it was beer o’clock (again) and went down Broadway to Honky-Tonk Central, a four storey bar for a few local beers and a family country band, including the lead singers 11 year old daughter!
We then wend to a mediocre grill house for dinner (hey you can’t win em all). Left sharpish and went to Tootsies, the most famous Honkey-Tonk on the strip, where dancing on the bar, Eric Church covers and singing Don’t Stop Believing country style is just part of the average day.
The next morning the owner of what we’ve decided is the friendliest hostel in North America gave us a lift to the greyhound stop and we made our way to Memphis. On the journey we read some reviews of the place we were going to be staying and two of the stand out words were ‘bed’ and ‘bug’! Concerned about the potential ‘dump’ we might be about to walk into and the extra room mates we might be about to have we checked in very nervously. In reality our fears were completely unfounded. Sure it was a characterless motel, but it was a clean one. It was also right next the Beale street so we wasted no time in heading down there to BB Kings Blues Bar. The band playing there were the only thing that has ever distracted Andrew from dinner for more than 5 minutes, which is saying something because fried catfish, hushpuppies (don’t ask, but its some sort of oniony thing) and slaw is damn good!
After a bug free night we went to see the thing that Abby has been most excited about for the whole trip (slight exaggeration Andrew – Abby). We went to see the famous, the one and only, March of the Peabody Ducks. I’m sure that right now you’re thinking this can’t possibly be how it sounds, but no, it’s a march of ducks from their house, through the hotel, and into a fountain. (I love that ducks have more lines than BLUES. I mean, BLUUUUEEEEESSSSS!!!!!! It was awesome. Ducks are still cool, but BLUES!!! – Andrew). After this extravaganza was over (approximately 5 mins later) we headed for Memphis’ second biggest attraction after the ducks, Graceland. Got the free shuttle bus to the house and went on a tour of the bizarre world of Elvis Presley. This man owned a lot of shiny suits. Andrew definitely wasn’t singing Walking in Memphis half the day. After obligatory photos outside the gates and looking at the slightly over the top shrines built outside by ageing Elvis fans, we went back downtown to the Gibson Guitar Factory! After drooling in the shop they took us through the factory where we saw how they make hollow-body electrics (look we listened). The necks are hand carved, and every guitar is hand painted – now we understand the price tag.
Dinner that night was a Memphis specialty, which is basically anything that comes off of a pig! Abby finally got her longed for pulled pork, which literally came in a mountain, and Andrew some insanely good ribs. Complete with more blues, obviously. An early start for New Orleans the Next morning meant we had to curtail our night out and brings this installment to an end.
Andrew ‘Blues Boy’ Stafford and Quackers McDuck