Thursday, June 26, 2008

Road Trip All-Stars Day 2: Memphis & Nashville

The “Craig and Kevin” Story

At Craig’s funeral, we’ll be telling this story. It’s about as classic as a classic story comes. Allow me to indulge…

Since there are five of us, we could’ve gotten two hotel rooms to preserve our rights to personal space and privacy, but that would’ve cost twice as much money. With gas at $4.00 a gallon, we thought it best to just get one room with two queen beds, then we could all share and one guy could crash on the floor. It’s a little gay, but certainly less expensive. None of us minded the slumber situation in theory.

In practice, however, Kevin would eventually change his mind. Since Kyle and I brothers we shared one bed, and Kevin paired up with Craig in the other one. At some point in the middle of the night, Craig draped his leg over Kevin’s, played Big Spoon, and gave his bedmate a tender kiss on the shoulder. All of this before realizing that Kevin is not, in fact, Craig’s girlfriend Laurel.

We didn’t stop making a big deal about this for the rest of the trip.


Elvis didn’t really live in a nice part of town, but that’s okay because Graceland Mansion is pretty well secured by a barrage of guards and minimum-wage docents at the home site. In truth, I expected Elvis’s house to be a little bigger; there wasn’t much difference between it and an average middle-class home you’d find anywhere on the market today.

Still, it was an interesting walk-through because the house isn’t the grounds’ only building. Elvis also had a racquetball court building behind the house which now acts as a pretty impressive trophy room. We got to see his Grammies and gold records and ridiculous Bedazzled rhinestone jumpsuits. The grand finale was Elvis’s grave, which was kind of a trip. It’s always strange to feel like you’re in the presence of greatness, even if that greatness is dead.

Overall, it was a pretty expensive house tour that didn’t add up to a whole lot, but we got to pay our respects to the King and get a sniff at what his mega-famous life was like. Personally, I would’ve done a little bit more with money, but what can I do?

Also, Priscilla Presley was hot.

Sun Studio

This was a much more interesting piece of Rock ‘n Roll history for us considering this is the place where the genre came to life and where Elvis Presley was discovered.

Way back in the day, Ike Turner’s original band was on their way to Sun Studio to put together their first record, but their amp fell out of the back of their truck and busted. As consummate pros, they played anyway but the broken amp gave the guitar a distorted sound for the first time in rock history, which is how Oktoberfest started.

Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, BB King, and Jerry Lee Lewis all recorded at this studio, which we stood right in the center of at the end of the tour. “Great Balls of Fire,” was recorded in that room, as was Cash’s “Walk the Line.” It’s the only recording studio in the country to be officially certified as a historic location, and we got a little piece of the action. We even got to pose with a microphone that Elvis himself used!

Pig on Beale BBQ

Eating lunch at Pig would be a lot like asking a friend to prom after getting denied by the girl you’ve had the crush on since freshman year. Our first choice was to munch at a rib joint called Rendezvous, which is tucked away in some random alley and supposedly has the best ribs in the state of Tennessee, but it was closed on Sundays. Starving, hot, and cranky we walked like bummed-out Charlie Browns back down to Beale Street to try and find a barbecue substitute. Pig was it.

We ordered the group meal, which consisted of an entire chicken, two full slabs of ribs, a half pound of beef brisket, a pound of hot wings, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans, and onion rings. Impressive, no? Even more impressive—we ate almost the entire stinkin’ thing.

The food was pretty decent there, but mostly we were just hungry. Didn’t hold a candle to the Cozy Corner, but it was affable. I suppose a restaurant smack-dab in the middle of Beale Street would have to be, right?

Gibson Factory Tour

I won’t be naming my first-born son “Quinn,” if only for the reason that our goofball tour guide at the Gibson factory would share his name.

Look, Gibson is supposed to represent badassedness, so when you’re traveling through the plant to observe how these troubadourian idols are constructed the last thing you want to envision is some wiener kid strumming away the theme to “Legend of Zelda” in his basement. Quinn turned what should’ve been an awesome experience into a medley of ninja/robot/hobbit jokes that just never quite seemed to hit home. What a tool.

On the bright side, Gibsons are pretty awesome guitars. It costs something like $300 to actually assemble one of these instruments, but top-of-line guitars can cost thousands and thousands of dollars. When you see how they’re made, it’s a little easier to understand why.

So much of the process that goes into constructing these guitars comes via actual human hands. Machines do very little of the work, so what Gibson customers are getting when they big bucks for a product is something put together the old-fashioned way. If you’re a real music fan, that’s the way you likes it, anyway.

Jack’s BBQ

The food that the five of us ate for lunch at Pig on Beale probably could have sustained a starving third world country for 17-20 days, which means that by the time we finally arrived for dinner in Nashville, Jack’s just didn’t stand a chance.

Though there was an awesome Dave Chappelle-esque meat man keeping us entertained during the wait for our meals, the food itself just didn’t stand up to some of the other brisket and ribs we’d tasted on the trip.

Like I said, it may have just been because we were full, but Jack’s is a Nashville staple that ended up disappointing us. By far the worst cole slaw of the trip. Must of us just nibbled on our dinners like baby birds to save room for dessert: beer.

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

And when I say beer was dessert, I really mean it. The Flying Saucer we visited in the home town of country music had over 80 beers on tap and well over 100 beers total. Several of these were fruit beers that were sweet and delicious enough to be our after-meal snack. Kevin, for example, ordered something called a “Chocolate Truffle,” which consisted of a double-chocolate stout mixed with lambic. Rich, but oh-so delicious.

The rest of us dabbled with sampler platters from all over the world. We all consider ourselves to be something of beer connoisseurs, so having an opportunity to really experience the full palate of worldwide spirits was both refreshing to our taste buds and burgeoning cultural developments.

1 comment:

JD said...

Glad you got to enjoy Memphis and thanks for stopping in at Sun! Come on by next time you get back in town and in the interim check out our blog to see some new artists we've been hosting in the studio:

-Jeff from Sun