Stayed at the Peabody Hotel in August, the team hotel. If you go there, enjoy the ducks. And the Rendezvous bbq restaurant nearby. Morgan Freeman has a great restaurant on Beale Street, unusual name, Itta Benna, we ate there, you might want to make a reservation for that. Then there’s the Stax Museum and the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. And Sun Studios. And farther afield, Graceland.
But you no doubt know all that (except perhaps for the Morgan Freeman restaursnt). But did you know the Johnny Cash childhood home is in Dyess, Arkansas, just 45 minutes North of Memphis? And Levon Helms’ childhood home is in Marvell, Arkansas, maybe an hour Southwest of Memphis, which is en route from Pine Bluff? Maybe the two best musicians ever from Arkansas, their childhood homes both nearby. Who needs Graceland ?
Morgan owns an old commissary in Clarksdale, Ms that he has blues night club and place to stay. His Memphis restaurant was named after town in Miss. where BB King was rumored to have been born and lived much of his life. Beale street plays tribute to BB King as well. Robert Johnson was rumored to be been from near Clarksdale too and Morgan is big follower of the blues.
Would love to hear the answer to the Dyess trivia question. I have no idea.
Bet no one knows where Levon Helm grew up. He was born in Elaine. And he went to school in Marvell (where his childhood home was moved for display). But I love the name of the tiny place where he actually grew up. All that’s left there is a sign and an abandoned General Store now. I saw it. In its heyday I think it only had the store, his house, and nothing much else other than the cotton field he plowed as a kid. It’s very near Elaine and Marvell. It’s Turkey Scratch, Arkansas.
Btw, the Itta Benna restaurant is right over the BB King Jazz Club. They let us walk downstairs after dinner and enter the club without paying a cover charge for admission.
Not Memphis-related, but something I learned that trip about my hometown, Pine Bluff. Know there is an Academy Award winner from my hometown? He’s Broncho Billy. Look it up. And Bayou Bartholomew, which Pine Bluff is on, is the longest bayou in the world. Great bream, bass, and catfish fishing. No wonder I went to college in Louisiana (Tulane) instead of Arkansas, even though I always have rooted for the Hogs. It was fate. But thankfully not for Jim Barnes, the U of A All-American lineman from my high school.
If you have extra time stop by Wilson, Arkansas—just south of Osceola a bit off I-55. The Wilson family has an interesting story regarding the town and surrounding area. The family sold their interest to a man who is developing the area into a destination. Building a boutique hotel and I have been told a golf course. The hotel was not completed the last time I checked and don’t know status of golf course, but I have been to the Wilson Cafe (bit of a misnomer, as it is has an attractive dinner menu) and have enjoyed both the food and the atmosphere.
The person here in North Carolina, who is from Blytheville, who told me about Dyess, which was the genesis for my trip home, asked me when I came back “Did you go to Wilson?”. I had no idea. When and if I ever get back, that’s going to be a destination.
And if you want barbecue from where the locals eat…not the tourist places…go to the Barbecue Shop on Madison…five minutes from the Liberty Bowl…ten minutes from downtown. Parking in the rear. The tourist places are fine, too.