BBQ and the Blues
Think of Memphis and you’ll probably think of Elvis. But there is a lot more to thank the city for. Both blues and rock n’ roll have their roots here, and musicians such as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and BB King all got their break at the city’s Sun Studio. Aside from music, Memphis played an integral role in the Civil Rights Movement. It was here that Dr Martin Luther King Jr gave his electrifying speech and was assassinated the next day at the Lorraine Motel. Things have moved on but the past is not forgotten, visit the Civil Rights Museum and the site of the assassination. Leisure is important in Memphis and going to music venues, hitting the malls, and eating barbecue food is a way of life. With around 100 barbecue joints across the city, you’ll be hard-pressed to avoid it.
Memphis is music. Whether you’re wandering around Graceland or hanging out in a gritty downtown bar listening to an unsigned band, music is the star attraction. The city claims there’s no better place for blues and barbecue. It’s not wrong. Good times abound in Memphis.
When to Go?
Summers in Memphis are hot and humid, with temperatures soaring to around 32°C in July and August. Thunderstorms can be common during this time but they are brief and over quickly. In spring and autumn the temperature is warm but not so clammy; these are considered the best times to visit the city. Winters are cold and temperatures between December and February drop to single figures.
How to get there?
There are no direct flights to Memphis International Airport (MEM) from the UK, but plenty of other US airports provide connections. The airport is located 12km (8 miles) south of Memphis and there is a public bus that runs into the city centre. Taxis are available in front of the terminal building.
Visit the spot where Dr Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated at the National Civil Rights Museum, housed within the Lorraine Motel. Join the barbecue faithful at Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous restaurant, which has welcomed celebrities including Bill Cosby, George W Bush and Justin Timberlake. Tour Graceland and marvel at Elvis’ mansion, his collection of cars and aeroplanes. Take in Sun Studio and see where Elvis, Howlin’ Wolf, Roy Orbison, Ike Turner, Johnny Cash and numerous others were recorded.