Overview of Memphis
Vibrant, historic music scene
While Nashville is Tennessee's country music hub, Memphis is the state's historic epicenter of the blues, soul and rock 'n' roll genres.
Much of that history took place in the South Main Arts District, particularly on Beale Street, and its imprints remain to this day. The Memphis Walk of Fame lies along this street, paying homage to greats like B. B. King and W. C. Handy. The famous statue of Elvis Presley, whose memory still looms large over the city, also resides in this corridor.
Those want to relive Memphis' historic music scene - or perhaps just get better acquainted with it - can check out the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum. In addition to exhibits and educational information about Memphis' music history and its key players, it also houses the first microphone with which Elvis sang in public.
Residents can also visit the iconic Sun Studios. Father of blues W. C. Handy made his first recordings at this location, and Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison have all recorded here as well.
The music scene in Memphis is not just a thing of the past, however, and walking around Beale Street at night will make that clear. The area is famous for its street performers, and there are plenty of bars and nightclubs that continue the city's rich tradition of great music, so you can easily find a spot to enjoy a performance and meal or cocktail.
There are also many organized events that allow you to take part in the rich culture of the city. The Memphis International Jazz Festival also takes place in the South Main Arts District each year, paying homage to the role the city's musicians have played in shaping the jazz genre over the years.
The South Main Arts District also features cultural festivals in which music still plays a key role, though perhaps a less central one. Memphis in May is a month-long celebration of the city's cultural and culinary heritage, while Africa in April Cultural Awareness Month features a wide array of events highlighting the traditions of the area's African American community.
Hip spots to eat, drink and relax
With so much to do, you'll surely find you're ready to sit down and relax before long, and the South Main Arts District has you covered. There are plenty of excellent restaurants that offer unique, inspired takes on traditional southern fare, as well as a number of bars that offer upscale cocktail and beer selections. If it's not yet dinner time or happy hour, consider sitting down with a book and an Americano at Bluff City Coffee.