Country Music, Blues, Rock’n’Roll, Soul music … a fantastic journey that will take you ‘in the Deep South to explore mythical places that have given birth to great musical icons .. from Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis at BB King’s Blues by the great fathers, you will visit the city ‘mythical as Nashville, the Music City, Tupelo, city’ native ‘Elvis the King “and Memphis, home of the legendary Sun Studios and Stax Records. Do not miss a stop in Lynchburg where you can visit the Jack Daniels Distillery and the beautiful concert live blues in Clarksdale in local epic as the “Ground Zero” Morgan Freeman or in an authentic juke joints such as the “Red’s Lounge” …. c’mon let’s go down south!
Join us for a unique journey through the states of Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee searching for places where of the most famous rock and blues musicians were born. By traveling with us, you will enjoy the spirit of this music that has been so important in your life.
We present a 9 days/8 nights tour in August.
day 1 Saturday (Nashville, Tennessee)
• Your trip starts in Nashville, Tennessee. After arriving at the airport, we will pick up the van, bus or motorbike. After check-in in the hotel we will go to an evening dinner on Main Street, in one of the many restaurants you can have a good meal listening to live music.
day 2 Sunday (Nashville, Tennessee)
• Our morning begins with a visit to Nashville Country Music Hall Of Fame, the home of America’s music since 1967; from here, you can take your complimentary transportation to “Rca Studio B” (http://countrymusichalloffame.org/studiob/). The Historic RCA Studio B is one of the world’s most important and successful recording studios. More than 35,000 songs were brought to life by the Studio B magic, including more than 1,000 American hits, 40 million-selling singles, and over 200 Elvis Presley recordings (by far more than any other studio). Step into the house of the hitmakers and discover the legend of this Music Row landmark.
Lunch at leisure.
In the afternoon you can visit the Johnny Cash Museum. In just a short five months after its grand opening, the Johnny Cash Museum, the latest attraction in Music City, lands at the top of both the Forbes and National Geographic must see travel destinations lists. Forbes recently released a list of the Top 5 “Must-See” Nashville destinations and put The Johnny Cash Museum in the number one slot.
You can spend the rest of the day strolling around downtown Nashville, with plenty of boots and hat shops, record shops, breweries and bars offering live music from 2 pm to late night; we suggest a visit to the Ryman Auditurium and to the Bridgestone Arena, and to the the brand new convention center called “the music city”, If you are shopping addicted, in a short drive you can reach the “Opry Mills Mall”( http://www.simon.com/mall/opry-mills), the Tennesse largest outlet and near it, you will find the “Grand Ole Opry”, The world’s longest running live radio program, featuring American country music.
• Dinner at leisure.
day 3 Monday (Nashville, Florence)
• It’s time to go down in Alabama!
We suggest to leave Nashville driving the scenic US31 passing the rolling Tennessee hills to reach Lynchburg, home of Jack Daniels Distillery where we will learn how this brand produces the world famous whiskey.
Lunch at leisure along the way.
• In a short drive we will reach Muscle Shoals, and visit the famous Muscle Shoals and the Fame studios; FAME Music was established in 1959 in Florence, Alabama. FAME has worked in the studio with some of the Greatest artists in Rock music history, artists such as Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Otis Redding, the Osmonds, Jerry Reed, Alabama, Mac Davis, the Gatlin Brothers, Bobbie Gentry and many others.
• Then we will move to downtown Florence to visit the W.C. Andy Home, Museum & Library, W.C. Handy was born in a small log cabin in Florence on November 16, 1873. Handy became famous for his blues compositions such as “Memphis Blues” & “St. Louis Blues”. He was also a musician, band conductor, and author.
• Overnight In Florence
day 4 Tuesday (Florence, Tupelo)
• After Alabama we will move to Tupelo the birthplace of Elvis Presley. First we suggest a stop at Alabama Music Hall of Fame. After 1.30 hour driving along the Historical Natchez we will reach Tupelo, the birthplace of “The King” where you can visit his birthplace and the Tupelo Hardware co., where Glady’s bought the first guitar for Elvis!
Rest of the day at leisure.
• Night in Tupelo
day 5 Wednesday (Tupelo -> Indianola) 182 ml
• From Tupelo we will move to Indianola
• If we are brave enough, we will move to West Point, the birthplace of the famous Howlin’ Wolf (though actually he was born in a small town nearby), where in addition to the museum and the statue dedicated to him, every year a festival is held with musicians playing his music, and who won a lot of prizes, as the Keepin’ The Blues Alive award from the Blues Foundation, just to name one.
• We will then reach Greenwood, where just northeast of the intersection of 89 and 49E is Three Forks Store, which is the bar (rebuilt after several tornadoes) where it is said that Robert Johnson made his last “concert” before he was killed, apparently by the jealous husband of a woman Johnson was drinking with.
• To the north of Greenwood is the third grave of Robert Johnson, currently thought to be the real one, according to eye witnesses who attended his burial at the Little Zion Cemetery
• From Greenwood we will go west to Indianola, “The Home of B.B. King “as stated in the sign of the city. Here, we will visit among other things, the Club Ebony and the B.B. King Blues Museum. We will enjoy a concert and a dinner at the Ebony club.
•Night in Indianola
day 6 Thursday (Indianola -> Clarksdale)
• In the morning we will continue to go in the direction of the Mississippi river, arriving in Leland, where, in addition to blues murals at Lilo’s Italian Restaurant, we will visit the tomb of James “Son” Thomas, bluesman by vocation and undertaker by profession. Thomas was famous in Europe having visited it several times with the harmonica player Walter Liniger. We will also stop at the Highway 61 Blues Museum at 307 N. Broad Street.
• Our daily trip will finally reach the muddy river, that divides Greenville from the Arkansas state. Here we will tour Nelson Street, where from the 1940s to the 1970s people the like Little Milton, Eddie Cusic, Charlie Booker, Willie Love, T-Model Ford and Little Bill Wallace ruled the street. The Mississippi Blues Trail marker reminds us the importance of this place in music history. Don’t miss Walnut Street, famous for its live music venues or the Playboy Club, immortalized in the film Mississippi Blues by Bernard Tavernier
• We will pass by Cleveland and visit this beautiful city, especially the Airport Grocery, where Willie Foster recorded his CD “Live At Airport Grocery”, then we will go east and visit also the Dockery Farms, where once upon a time Charley Patton was employed.
• We can’t miss (also if armed guards walking close to the white gate always try to avoid people in stopping) the Parchman Farms, the “Mississippi State Penitentiary” at the intersection of 32 and 49W, which is popular both for researches and registrations of Alan Lomax, and for having been visited by many bluesmen (such as Son House and Bukka White), and sung by many musicians not only blues (we mention for example Johnny Winter and John Mayall). Even today you can see the prisoners, with the classic striped uniform, working the land surrounding the prison.
• After lunch we drive south to Tutwiler, where it is said that W.C. Handy, standing at the train station, heard for the first time what was then called the “blues”, a black stranger who was playing a guitar using a knife as a slide. We will visit the grave of Sonny Boy Williamson II, where despite the fact that the reported date of death on the tombstone is wrong, (as well as that of his birth is uncertain), many musicians still go on a pilgrimage leaving their harps as a tribute to Sonny Boy.
• The tour will continue through the famous Stovall Plantation, where Muddy Waters worked as a tractor driver and where Alan Lomax heard him play and recorded him in 1941. Here you will find an indication of where it was located what is said have been the home of Muddy Waters, currently housed and rebuilt in the Delta Blues Museum.
• We will finally reach the Hopson Plantation, where the Shack Up Inn is located and where we will spend the night. Each year, the Shacks organize the Pinetop Perkins Homecoming on the Sunday just after the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena (second weekend of October). The festival is held even after the famous pianist passed away in 2011. This place is very unusual and tipical, because the owner, Bill Talbot, kept the old shacks of country and farm workers, and he refurbished them (mainly just adding the restroom) in order to obtain some “spiritual refuges” helping in this way to preserve part of the historical Mississippi Delta that is almost disappeared.
• Night in Clarksdale
day 7 Friday (Clarksdale -> Memphis)
• In the morning a mandatory stop is in Clarksdale is at the Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, managed by Roger Stolle, who along with Jeff Konkel, is very active to preserve the African American tradition and culture. In this shop you will find any blues record you want, books, CDs, DVDs, as well as Southern folk art objects and handcrafts made by bluesmen such as Pat Thomas, son of the legendary James “Son” Thomas. Also a few blocks from the Cat Head store, visit Stan Street’s Hambone Gallery for original folk art or the Rock and Blues Museum which features historic items like blues 78s, instruments, and photographs. Every Tuesday night, Street also hosts a jam for local and visiting musicians in his studio.
• Later we will be visiting places such as the Wade Walton’s Barber Shop or the Riverside Hotel, where Bessie Smith died, Sarah’s Kitchen restaurant, the building where there was the famous Rooster Records and even visit the Delta Blues Museum (closed on Sunday)
• In the early afternoon we will pass Friar’s Point and we will take a side trip across the Mississippi River to Helena, Arkansas, home to the King Biscuit Blues Festival to visit the Delta Cultural Center
• We will arrive for dinner in Memphis and take a break at the Rum Boogie Cafe where where in the past we could admire the original label STAX sign, now back to the museum, and where many musicians have played here over the years, for example Ike Turner, Son Seals, or Stevie Ray Vaughan.
• Overnight in Memphis
day 8 Saturday (Memphis)
• Our morning is dedicated to culture and begins with a tour to visit to the STAX Museum of American Soul Music, 962 McLemore Avenue, the famous Soul Music label founded in 1957 from Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton. .
• We will then move to visit (guided at least for newbies) the Sun Studios at 706 Union Avenue. Famous for having recorded blues musicians such as Howlin’ Wolf, Dr. Ross, B.B. King, Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, Little Milton and others. It was also famous for seeing the birth of rock ‘n’ roll recording Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash. Do not forget the famous gadgets at exit (also if pretty expensive!)
• Possible backup solution visit the Rock and Soul Museum or even the Gibson Guitar Studio and have a walk to The Peabody Hotel and see the duck show, where since 80 years these ducks, the first residents of The Peabody’s lobby fountain, still walk on the red carpet two times per day to swim in the the marble fountain.
•After lunch, just to be really living the spirit of the South, we will visit the National Civil Rights Museum, at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King was killed.
•The late afternoon is free for shopping on Beale Street with a visit to Tater’s Red, a shop famous for making voodoo amulets and mojos for every need (do not miss for example the famous John The Conqueror root oil), or visit the historic Schwab’s store (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A. Schwab ‘s), a unique shop where you can find probably everything you can think at that exist on Earth. The slogan of this historical shop is “If you can’t find it at A. Schwab, you’re probably better off without it!”
•A must for dinner is at B.B. King Blues Club in Beale Street, with catfish tasting, a typical dish of the Mississippi (only for comparison with the catfish that we will always eat always going further south to the swamps of Louisiana). If you are lucky you can also attend a concert (live performances are frequent) and take home a t-shirt.
day 9 (Memphis -> Europe)
• Flight to Europe.
The program includes one week travel by bus, mini van or motorbike, with stops every day and night in the most important shopping and entertainment places!
Note: All the itineraries are subject to change without notice during the season or even during the trip due to some unforeseen and unforeseeable reasons. Prices may vary according to departure dates.