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True Blue
from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

MAY 2006

Walkin’ In Memphis…

The first week of April my wife Kristi and I traveled to ‘Blues City’ –Memphis, TN - to participate in a 2-day conference for music museums across the country. This was only the second time we had visited Memphis, but I feel like we really experienced the essence of the city this round. We also met some of the kindest folks you’d ever want to meet, and we sampled southern hospitality at it’s finest. So, as Memphis’ favorite son once referred to his string of Hollywood movies, here’s ‘my latest travelog’…

Our visit started out with a welcome reception at the Gibson Showcase, one block south of Beale Street at the Gibson guitar plant. Gibson offers tours of the plant, where you can see how B. B. King’s Lucille and other Gibson E-series electric guitars are crafted. There is also a great music shop featuring Gibson instruments and accessories. Gibson plays a huge role as sponsor of the annual Blues Music Awards in Memphis, as well as in the field of music education through the Gibson/Baldwin Music Education program. For more about these legendary American guitars on the web, see www.gibson.com .

stax_subpic_aboutsoulsville (16K)Our Music Museum Alliance conference meetings were graciously hosted by the folks at Stax Museum of American Soul Music (www.soulsvilleusa.com), and this is most definitely a must-see when you make your musical pilgrimage to Memphis. This is Soulsville - where America’s soul music was born… Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, The Staple Singers, Carla and Rufus Thomas, The Bar-Kays, Booker T. & the MG’s, Isaac Hayes, and many more. Soul music classics were crafted and recorded on this hallowed ground in the 50’s and 60’s, by black and white musicians working together – at the same time the rest of the country was struggling through the civil rights movement. The musicians at Stax crossed the color barrier long before the rest of America. That says an awful lot about the power of music, the role it plays in society, and it’s value to humanity. Stax Records was the very cornerstone of all contemporary urban, hip-hop, rap and so much of the popular music out there today.

The Memphis Rock ‘n Soul Museum (www.memphisrocknsoul.org), the legendary Sun Studio (www.sunstudio.com), and Elvis’ Graceland (www.elvis.com) are also very worthy stops on your journey, and essential to the complete Memphis experience. You will need at least a couple of days to do them all justice, and it goes without saying that Beale Street must be experienced at night - when the clubs and bistros overflow with blues, bar-b-q, and blues fans from all over the world. For more on this world-renowned avenue of the blues, visit www.memphisguide.com .

Friends on the bus in Memphis included folks from the Allman Brothers museum in Macon, GA (www.thebighousemuseum.org), the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, MS (www.deltabluesmuseum.org), the B. B. King Museum in Indianola, MS (www.bbkingmuseum.org), Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame in Clinton, MS (www.msmusic.org), Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia, AL (www.alamhof.org), Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, CA (www.museumofmakingmusic.org), the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, MO (www.americanjazzmuseum.org), Experience Music Project in Seattle, WA (www.emplive.com) and The Jazz Museum in Harlem (www.jazzmuseuminharlem.org). Stops on the road outside of Memphis included visits to the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, MS (www.deltaculturalcenter.com) and Morgan Freeman’s real-deal juke-joint, the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, MS www.groundzerobluesclub.com .

museumnight (41K)On Sunday afternoon, before heading back home, we made our final stop at the National Civil Rights Museum (www.civilrightsmuseum.org). The museum is located at 450 Mulberry Street, on the site of the Lorraine Motel – where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. If and when you do visit Memphis, please don’t miss this moving tribute to Dr. King and the civil rights movement in America. It is the true blue heart and soul of the people, and the real historical significance of the city of Memphis.

New Blues Fer Youz…

BP-chubby (10K)“Stealing the Devil’s Guitar, “ Popa Chubby (Blind Pig Records) This new collection from Popa Chubby truly showcases the diversity and depth of this NY bluesman’s talent. Still rockin’, still drivin’, but more innovative than ever. Popa’s fans will be amazed, and newcomers will flock to the fold. Hot new tracks from Popa Cubby!

BP-Kubek-King (20K)“My Heart’s In Texas,” Smokin’ Joe & Bnois King (Blind Pig Records) Smokin’ Joe and Bnois have been houserockin’ together since 1989. Recorded at J & J Blues Bar in Forth Worth, TX, this new CD showcases the duos stage magic and dynamic blend. This is road-tested bluesrockin’, recorded live in an authentic Texas roadhouse. Yee-hah!

I just can’t be hangin’ ‘round this place no more, ‘cause I got a gig and I gotta go. Until we meet again at this crossroads, peace, love & blessings to all, and…

Blues to ‘ya!

Local musician Ellis Kell writes about blues music both local and national in ‘True Blue’, running the first Sunday of each month in Entertainment. He is also on the staff of River Music Experience, a not-for-profit center dedicated to preservation, education and celebration of American Roots music.



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