For all Music lovers and anybody wanting to get a real feeling of the Deep South, we are delighted to offer this exciting new Music tour for 2009. For millions around the world Memphis and Mississippi first and foremost mean music. The Blues were born in the Mississippi Delta combining traditional African rhythms with the soulful cries of the sharecroppers as they toiled in the scorched fields. If Mississippi was the birthplace of the Blues, Memphis became home to the music as aspiring musicians headed north on Highway 61 to perform their music on Beale Street. One of them traded his first name Riley for "The Beale Street Blues Boy" and today B.B. King still has a club on the lively street, which is now the premier entertainment district of the entire South.
And Mississippi also gave birth to another king, a certain Elvis Aaron Presley, in a 2- room, shotgun house in Tupelo. His love of music began here when his mother bought him a guitar from the Tupelo Hardware Store for his eleventh birthday. When the Presley family moved to Memphis, Elvis Presley joined forces with Sam Phillips at Sun Studio to revolutionize popular music and Rock'n'Roll was born.
But there is more than music. Memphis and Mississippi also mean the mellow way of life in the Deep South. The South of mint juleps and magnolia trees, of folklore and fable, and warm hospitality. The South of Civil War, where preserved battle sites and historic homes bear witness to the tragedy of a nation torn apart. The South of Civil Rights strife, where you can trace the African-Americans' enduring struggle for freedom.
Important Note: In order to make the most of your time spent in the area, we strongly suggest a Wednesday or Thursday arrival into Memphis. This will then allow you to spend Thursday, Friday & Saturday nights in the small rural towns of Clarksdale and Greenwood, where Blues entertainment is only available on these nights. Furthermore, near Greenwood is one of only two truly authentic "juke joints" in Mississippi, Po Monkey's which is also only open on Thursday nights. Also near Greenwood is Club Ebony, now owned by B.B. King, which is also only open on Thu, Fri, Sat & Sun nights, with live blues mostly only on Fri & Sat evenings.
Arrive Memphis Airport and transfer to hotel. In the evening there's still a chance to sample the musical delights of Beale Street, but don't worry you'll have two more nights in Memphis to truly experience the Birthplace of Rock'n'Roll and Home of the Blues.
Drive south on historic Highway 61 – known as the Blues Highway – to Clarksdale in the heart of the Delta. A hundred years ago, this was a dark, swampy land populated by poor sharecroppers. Clarksdale has a rich Blues heritage. Names like Muddy Waters, Charley Patton and Robert Johnson dot the musical landscape here. Their legacies continue to inspire and entertain millions of people worldwide. Clarksdale's historic Blues Alley is home to the Delta Blues Museum, dedicated to both the preservation and interpretation of the Blues. Clarksdale has a thriving live music scene with clubs open every weekend and festivals scattered throughout the year. Local Hollywood actor and star, Morgan Freeman, runs his own fine restaurant, Madidi, and the popular Ground Zero Blues bar.
In historic downtown visit The Greenwood Blues Heritage Museum and Gallery that houses an important collection of Blues memorabilia. The museum's focus is on Robert Johnson, who allegedly sold his soul to the devil for the ability to play the guitar like no other. Or make time for a cooking class at the Viking Cookery School and learn how to prepare traditional Southern dishes and delicacies. Also take time to visit a great little museum, Cottonlandia Museum, which also houses an eclectic collection of items that weave a fascinating history of the area's past.
Continue south on Highway 61 then west to Indianola for the new B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center. He started life as Riley B. King in one of America's most impoverished places, the Mississippi Delta. Now he's an international music icon, and music lovers everywhere want to know more about the man who became B.B. King.
The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Centre tells the story of King's life, his career, and stories of the Delta – its history and music, social mores and race relations, literature and legends, adversities and successes. Continue to Greenwood and be sure to have dinner at the famous Lusco's – a local institution for more than fifty years.
Head west and near Starkville join the Natchez Trace Parkway, which dates back over 8,000 years when it was used as an Indian trade route. By the 1800s, it was the busiest highway in what was then the American Southwest. Extending from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi, the Trace offers a scenic drive through pristine forests and lush countryside – without a billboard in sight.
Visit the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum. Elvis fans can tour the home, museum, memorial chapel, fountain of life, story wall and enjoy the self-guided tour that leads to some of the most significant locations of Elvis' life in Tupelo. Make time for the Tupelo Hardware Store, a timeless gem where Gladys Presley bought Elvis his first guitar. Elvis wanted a gun but they compromised on the guitar. And music has never been the same since! Continue north along the Natchez Trace Parkway to Nashville, known as Music City.
See the legendary Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and RCA Studio B where the "Nashville Sound" was created by Chet Atkins, Dolly Parton, the Everly Brothers, Elvis and many others. Be sure to hear some live music at a classic honky tonk like Tootsie's Orchid Lounge in the District, Nashville's downtown entertainment area. Kick up your heels to the Country sounds at the Wildhorse Saloon or take a cabaret dinner cruise aboard the General Jackson Showboat on the Cumberland River.
From Nashville head west to Memphis and en route take time to stop in Jackson along the Music Highway (Interstate 40) and stop in Jackson, home to Carl Perkins of Blue Suede Shoes fame. In his honor Jackson now houses the International Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Mural and Rockabilly Park – all in historic downtown and offering a fascinating insight into Jackson's remarkable musical legacy. While in Jackson, be sure to sample the Southern delicacies served at The Old Country Store at the Casey Jones Village.
Take a slight detour from Jackson and drive through Nutbush – the birthplace of Tina Turner and the title of one of her greatest hits – before continuing to Memphis.
Renowned as the birthplace of rock'n'roll and home of the blues, Memphis more than matches its myth. Pilgrims flock from all over the world to find a vibrant city that while cherishing its past remains very much alive. Visit Graceland, Elvis' beloved mansion, see his two private jets and the fantastic Automobile Museum. Don't miss the tour at famous Sun Studio and be sure to see the Stax Museum of American Soul Music as well as the Smithsonian's Rock'n'Soul Museum and the Gibson Guitar Factory. Then dance the night away at any of the clubs on historic Beale Street.