Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Memphis -- Day Three

Yesterday was another great day. In the morning we horsed around a little in the hotel lobby, which is filled with Elvis memorabilia.

Tom has developed a close, personal relationship with Elvis.

In fact, Elvis asked to borrow Tom's sunglasses and he was happy to oblige.

Jealous as I am, I tried to show my affection but the guy wouldn't give me the time of day.

So we headed over to Sun Records, where many of the first rock and roll songs were recorded by such mavericks as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Charlie Rich.

First stop on the tour was the museum, where there are exhibitions from days gone by.

Here's the recording machine that people used to make their own vanity records before they had recording contracts. They could make one single record for a price. That's what Elvis did. It took another full year before he could get Sam Phillips's attention.

He got Sam's attention, all right. Elvis was added to the label's early stable and the rest is history.

Sam passed away in 2003.

Then we were taken into the famous studio itself, which hasn't changed much over the years.

Here's my daily ceiling shot! Sam saw an article in the 1950s in Popular Science Magazine about how acoustic tiles worked best for recording if they were placed in a "wave" pattern on the ceiling.

To this day artists are allowed to record there by special dispensation. In more recent years these have included Ringo Starr and U2.

Many artists have left signed guitars behind to be part of the collection. There's a strict look-but-don't-touch policy in the studio, obviously!

When we were there yesterday, there was a modern drum kit set up, and in the foreground is one of the original microphones (on a newer stand) that artists still prefer to use.

Also in the studio is this iconic photo from the day when four of Sun Records' artists just happened to be in the joint on the same day at the same time and did a little jam session: l-r Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnnny Cash. Oh, and Tom Coston.

We were pretty tired after all this so we went back to our hotel and took a nap for a couple of hours, then headed off for the long-awaited best barbecue in all of Memphis in the estimation of our server at dinner on Monday, Albert O. Jones III, who would know because he was born and raised here.

So here's the big reveal:

It was beyond fantastic! It's a tiny little place out on the interstate (as they say in these parts) that Albert simply called "Interstate."

The locals swear by it. It's unassuming, friendly, low-key and down-home.


It was the best barbecue I've ever, ever had. I ordered the pork ribs, which in the south aren't the skinny, delicate baby back ribs that are on every barbecue menu in California. No sir, these were huge spare ribs with meat that fell right off the bone and melted in my mouth, with a special barbecue sauce that had a bit of a bite to it but was also slightly sweet.

Mmmmmmm.

The final proof that it's great southern barbecue: the Wonder Bread that comes with every meal!


Tom ordered barbecue turkey and he was one happy camper!

Back at the hotel, the movie on the all-Elvis-all-the-time channel was "Change of Habit."

OK, we're off for today's adventure. I'll post about it tomorrow.

4 comments:

MG said...

What a great travel log. I am lovin' it. I am going to dream tonight about going to a yard sale in Nashville that has boxes and boxes of vanity records. Oh slap me and call me Loretta, a treasure trove of kitch.

Wonderbread!

Cafe Observer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cafe Observer said...

So, was it the best BBQ you've had, PIO?

And, what's with all them vintage cars in front of the sun? It looks kinda like So Pasa!

Petrea said...

I'm enjoying this. I don't think I've ever had really, truly great barbecue. Drooling vicariously.