One Man and His Horn: Memphis

When I left Birmingham, I headed for Tupelo, Missississippi.  It took me a little longer to get there than I thought.  I didn’t have a lot of time to be looking around for a place to play.  It was Saturday night and I wanted to get busy.  After a phone call, it was decided to go straight to Memphis.  I arrived in the downtown area around 8:45ish and could NOT find a place to park.  I got a little agitated so I went to a coffee shop outside of downtown to calm down and get some other work done.  I had been driving all day and after not really being able to play in Birmingham, I just wanted to play in Memphis!!!  I had asked a police officer here about permits.  He said you do need one, but not to worry about it.  He went on to say, if they say something, just go.  Again, I fully understood.  I had asked another one earlier and she said the same thing.  I got my work done and went back downtown and it took a little time, but I found a spot right on Union St!

As I walked around to find a spot, it seemed every place had either live music or music on loud speakers, playing outside.  I walked by another police officer on the beat and I asked him “Is there a spot where I can play, where there isn’t music on loudspeakers?”  He told me to go in front of The Peabody Hotel.  That is where horse carriage tours start and finish.  I thank him and went to the front of the Peabody.  I got all set up to play, it was 11:30pm and after my first tune, it starts to rain.  I said aloud, “I don’t think so”  Well at the Peabody, they have awnings!   I was able to stay out there for just over an hour before the wind started bringing the rain a little too close.  It was a sweet hour of music and interaction.

Later on that night, around 2:15am I went for a walk down Beale St. with an umbrella, it was still raining.  What a scene, walking down the middle of the street lined with police cruisers and “Hey Joe” playing over a loudspeaker. It was something!  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera.

I woke up early on Sunday, before the sun came up.  I thought it would be a special treat to go to the Mississippi River for the sunrise.  Obviously, it didn’t come up over the river, in fact I didn’t even see the sun. The sun lit up the clouds though and it was still beautiful.  Unfortunately, my pictures didn’t capture it the way I saw it

I spent the morning at the coffee shop doing some work and talking to people.  I met a man named Mike, who was very helpful with my upcoming locations in Nashville and Asheville.  He also pointed out the Mayor of Memphis, A.C. Wharton so I introduced myself to him and told him what I was doing.  He said “Welcome to Memphis!”  then we took a photo. Mike introduced to me to a couple of other people that sat at the table. It is a regular Sunday thing where this group meets at the coffee shop.  It looks to be a fun time for everyone.

I made my way back downtown, and found a parking space  went back to play in front of The Peabody.  I was asked to leave after about 30 minutes, the shops being open at the Peabody, I think was the difference from the night before.  I was okay with that, at the time I was there it wasn’t busy anyway.  In the middle of the afternoon, it is like anywhere else in the summer, not a lot of people walking around.  I took a break to cool off myself, and do some more work.

After a while, I went to a place where I was under a walking bridge to a parking garage.  It made an nice echo sound but again I asked to leave, private property.  The man told me I could go across the street on the corner, that to me was, was perfect.  I played for three hours there and it was just awesome!  There were a lot of people walking by and there was a lot of interaction.  There were also several police officers who rode by a bikes and seemed to be enjoying what they were hearing.  Security from across the street pulled up in a van and I stopped playing.  He said, “I was hoping to hear some music, that’s why I drove over here.” I said, “Excellent!”  and started to wail.  When he left, he gave me a nod of approval.  The entire three hours  were just awesome!

I know this is a little bit longer than my other entries, but hey, it’s Memphis!  I want to thank the people of Memphis for being so friendly and give a shout out to Mayor A.C. Wharton – Good luck in the election!!

I also want to thank all of you again, for taking an interest in my journey and reading along.

  1. Colin said:

    Sounds like an amazing adventure James….looking forward to following it!


    • Colin said:

      James, when you get to Nashville there used to be a place called the South Street Restaurant (used to be called the South Street Crab House and Rib Shack or something like that). It’s on the way out of downtown around 20th Street right at the corner of Vanderbuilt University. That was a great place!

      looks like it’s still there…

      Colin McGee

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