Music lovers worldwide have a new musical “pilgrimage” route to follow! The Deep South Music Triangle takes them to the roots of modern American music, wrapping them in blues, country, and rock & roll rhythms and familiarizing them with the origins of gospel and bluegrass. So, what are you waiting for? Hire a car, turn on the radio, sing as loudly as you want, and start your musical adventure!
Nashville – the capital of country music
There’s no better place to learn about country music than Nashville, Tennessee! From country music bars to ad-hoc street performances, everything in Nashville gravitates around those warm and healing guitar notes that create the country songs. You’ll find good music everywhere but do stop at the famous Grand Ole Opry, where many famous country singers have started their musical ascension and where Elvis himself made an appearance early in his career.
Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to discover an overwhelming collection of country music artefacts, as well as one of Elvis’ gold-plated Cadillacs. Attend a concert at the impressive Ryman Auditorium, once a church and now one of the best music venues in town. Don’t leave town without enjoying the ambiance of a honky-tonk bar! You’ll easily find one! Just listen to the sounds of the street.
Studio B is the place where Elvis, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, and the Everly Brothers, among many others, have recorded many of their evergreen hits, and where you’ll learn more about the industry and even have the chance to touch the Elvis piano. Stop at the Station Inn to embrace the amazing bluegrass, roots, and Americana music while enjoying a beer and a pizza, and visit The Bluebird Café, where Keith Urban and Garth Brooks have performed back in the day, for a chance to be the first to see live the future stars of country music.
Tupelo – the birthplace of Elvis
Tupelo is the birthplace of Elvis Aaron Presley, so expect to discover a city dedicated entirely to the great King! Elvis was born in a wooden two-room shack on January 8, 1935. In 1957, he donated the proceeds of a concert to the city so they can create a park there. The park covers an area of 15 acres and was named Elvis Presley Drive.
During your visit to Tupelo, you’ll get to visit an impressive museum and even the Tupelo hardware store where Elvis’ mother bought his son his first guitar. Every June, the city organizes the Tupelo Elvis Festival, so it would be nice for your trip to coincide with this event.
The Assembly of God Pentecostal church is the place where Elvis first listened to Southern gospel that had influenced so many of his songs and is available for tours. If you have the time, visit Muscle Shoals – The Hit Capital of the World. This is where artists like Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, and Rod Stewart recorded some of their biggest hits and where W.C. Handy, “Father of the Blues”, was born.
Memphis – the playground of the King
Home to the legendary Graceland, Memphis needs no introduction. Elvis bought the estate in March 1957 and lived here until he died. Those who might expect a lavish house will be somewhat surprised. The property is quite modest and the 70s furnishing is a bit too much for contemporaneity, but this is definitely the place where you can feel Elvis’ spirit (metaphorically, of course!) although the King is buried outside, at the foot of the swimming pool, next to his parents.
Pass by the Sun Studio, the birthplace of rock and roll, and the place where Elvis recorded his first songs in 1953. The studio was founded by Sam Philips in 1950 and was a musical home for names like Jerry Lee Lewis and B.B. King. Close by, you’ll find the Arcade Restaurant, one of Elvis’ favorite dining venues, where he used to come to savor his deep-fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, adorned with bacon. You can still order it, if you want, with or without the bacon.
The Smithsonian’s Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum familiarizes visitors with the music and history of many other musical legends, unveiling tales about three important musical decades. You’ll learn about the blues that took over the 20s, rock and roll that made history in the 50s, and soul music that enriched the American music history in the 60s. If you want to find out more about American soul music, head to the Stax Music Museum of American Soul Music that will take you into a recreated studio.When the night comes, spend a few hours on the Beale Street where you’ll be welcomed by a plethora of restaurants, funky clubs, and live music bars, including the famous BB King’s Blues Club.