Memphis, TN (PRWEB) April 5, 2006
There’s a reason they call Memphis, Tennessee the home of the blues and the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll. After all, Sam Phillips’ Sun Records and Willie Mitchell’s Royal Recording Studio still stand tall, as do dozens more recording studios, radio stations, and the Chisca Hotel, where DJ Daddy-O Dewey Phillips first blasted Elvis Presley’s “That’s Alright.”
In this musical mecca, you can saunter down Beale Street, attend a worship service at Rev. Al Green’s Full Gospel Tabernacle, and tour Graceland, Elvis’ final home. You can crank up WEVL or WDIA on the radio, and spend the afternoon cruising barbeque joints like Payne’s and the Cozy Corner, perusing the stacks of vintage vinyl at local record shops like Goner Records and Shangri-La, or debating the menus at Ellen’s Soul Food and Gus’ Fried Chicken.
Year round, tourists flock to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, where the sagas of soul greats like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and William Bell unfold in three-four time, or to the Gibson Guitar Factory, where they can view replicas of B.B. King’s Lucille guitar rolling down the assembly line five days a week. They visit the National Civil Rights Museum, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated one blustery April evening, and drop into the Center for Southern Folklore for one-of-a-kind souvenirs made by local folk artists.
This May, however, a one-two-three music-festival punch makes Memphis a must-visit destination:
Plan your flight in time to check out the Beale Street Music Festival, which kicks off on Friday, May 5. Held downtown in Tom Lee Park, the three-day event features locally-grown heroes like B.B. King, Billy Lee Riley, Booker T & the MGs, Big Star, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Bar-Kays, Al Kapone, and Three 6 Mafia, along with James Brown, Little Richard, Robert “Wolfman” Belfour, and Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin.
Stick around through Thursday, May 11, when the Blues Foundation will host the Blues Music Awards -- formerly the W.C. Handy Awards -- at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, with 30 nominees tentatively scheduled to perform.
In between, the highlight of any music lover’s trip will be Mon.-Wed., May 8-10, when the New Orleans, Louisiana-based music festival Ponderosa Stomp -- on the road since hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Crescent City and the Gulf Coast -- will descend on the Gibson Guitar Factory in downtown Memphis for a three-day fundraiser benefiting the New Orleans Musicians Clinic and MusiCares.
With a dream team roster of blues, rockabilly, R&B, soul, country, and rock ’n’ roll performers, the Ponderosa Stomp is fantasy-turned-reality for any roots music fan. Festival organizers the Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau have handpicked the best musicians Memphis music history has to offer, including former Elvis sidemen Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, and James Burton; Hi label stars Jumpin’ Gene Simmons, Syl Johnson, Willie Cobbs, and the Hi Rhythm Section; Stax greats William Bell, the Climates, Skip Pitts, and Willie Hall; Sun heroes Sonny Burgess, Eddie Bond, Billy Swan, the Tennessee Three, Carl Mann, Rayburn Anthony, Ace Cannon, Sleepy LaBeef, Matt Lucas, and Hayden Thompson; guitar genius Travis Wammack; and bassman extraordinaire BB Cunningham.
The Ponderosa Stomp also features New Orleans musicians Eddie Bo, Willie Tee, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, the Bad Roads, Michael Hurtt and the Haunted Hearts, Herb Hardesty, Clarence Frogman Henry, Rockie Charles, Little Freddy King, and the Rebirth Brass Band, as well as Gulf Coast performers Archie Bell, Roy Head, Jay Chevalier, Joe Clay, CC Adcock, Warren Storm, Lazy Lester, Barbara Lynn, Henry Gray, and Lil Buck Sinegal.
Tickets for the 5th Annual Ponderosa Stomp are available for $40 per night at http://www.buyolympia.com/events/index.php?details=170 .
As a stand-alone event, the Ponderosa Stomp makes a great story. Positioned as the centerpiece of a music lover’s vacation in Memphis this May, it will surely go down in pop-music history.
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