Thursday, September 30, 2010

Adventures in Memphis Part 2: Midtown is Memphis

As a continuation of my previous blog post, here is Part 2 where I delve into the eclectic Midtown area of Memphis.

After leaving the South Main area, we headed to the Brooks Museum to check out the exhibit, Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History 1955 to the Present. We were convinced upon entering to become Brooks Museum members for the year, so it looks like we will be going to a lot more exhibits in the future. The Who Shot Rock & Roll exhibit was a collection of photographs throughout the history of Rock & Roll depicting historic stars in a variety of settings. Separate sections were devoted to pre-fame photos, behind the scenes photos, performance pictures, and various other categories. Looking at the pictures of some of my favorite artists (Kurt Cobain, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, U2, Elvis, Velvet Underground, and many, many more), and listening to the audio guide and learning the stories behind some of the most famous photos in music history was incredible.

In particular, I was moved by the picture above of Kurt Cobain crying backstage taken by Ian Tilton just minutes after a show. The photo took me back to my high-school years when I thought Cobain was a god. It reminded me how it was such a breath of fresh air when the grunge movement first hit and the artists had passion again after the many years of declining quality in music with the central focus on fame and partying of the hair metal groups. The images in rock music changed overnight from makeup-clad hair metal stars surrounded by groupies to the more realistic images of the “grunge” era (I realize I’m making a generalization about this, as some of my favorite music was made in the 80’s…R.E.M., Pixies, U2, and the multitude of one-hit wonders to name a few, but since we are talking about the images portrayed in photographs in the media, I think the generalization applies).

After the successful trip to the Brooks Museum (and an incredible history lesson in my favorite subject), we headed back across Union to the always interesting Cooper-Young neighborhood. Cooper-Young boasts an eclectic collection of restaurants, bars, art galleries, shopping and some very interesting people.

We dropped off a few books for store credit at Burke’s Books (my favorite used bookstore in Memphis), and headed over to Goner Records (my favorite record store in Memphis). Goner specializes in vinyl and also runs a record label. While browsing I spotted records by Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett that I had to have. Both of these artists worked heavily with the Stax record label in Memphis, and I think the music of Stax and Hi Records are at least equal to the Sun Recordings when it comes to Memphis’ contributions to the music world. The music Steve Cropper made with Wilson Picket and Otis Redding (see the video below for an example of the power of Otis) ranks high among my favorites, and together, Willie Mitchell and Al Green made some of the finest music in any genre for Hi Records. And don’t forget about Isaac Hayes and David Porter, as they also made some incredible music right here in Memphis.

After a bit more wandering around in Cooper-Young, we decided to check out one more bike shop. I had previously read that Memphis Bicycle Company on Summer Avenue specialized in old Schwinn bikes, and since we are interested in cruisers, we decided to check it out. While we didn’t find the bikes we wanted, he did have a few old bikes that are collectors’ items and if we ever need any parts, it will be one of the first places we’ll check. Having the opportunity to check out some of the classic cruisers (some apparently valued at thousands of dollars and headed to a museum) was really interesting. Anyone who knows Crystel and I, knows about our love for old things (cars, houses, bikes, buildings, etc…). Stop by and check out his collection sometime (be sure and use the side door), although he’s not always open so you may have to stop by a few times to catch him there.

On the way home, we talked about how unexpectedly fun and interesting the day was. The weather was near-perfect, and I think we really felt some of the soul of Memphis. This city has a rich history with lots of new things being added every day and I can’t wait until the next time we irresponsibly forget about our chores for the day and explore our home.

So there you have it, our Memphis adventure. Do you have any experiences with the places I’ve mentioned? Anything else I should check out during our next adventure?

No comments:

Post a Comment