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Memphis’ Sun Studio, Where Elvis Hung His Hat & Began His Career

April 16, 2015 by  

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On the other side of town from the infamous Beale Street in Memphis lies Sun Studio on 706 Union Avenue, the same studio where Elvis regularly hung his hat and recorded tunes at the beginning of his career. It has been said that “if music was a religion, then Memphis would be Jerusalem and Sun Studio its most holy shrine.” As a tourist spot, it’s incredibly unpretentious — in fact, it looks as it has remained untouched for the most part since the 1950′s, and that’s just inside. Of course, as you walk through the studio, it’s not just the recording studio itself that is awe-inspiring and authentic but they have a number of historical guitars, microphones and original records on display to marvel at….and it’s not just Elvis of course. There were original recordings by Johnny Cash (see my Johnny Cash Museum write-up including a special video interview and tons of photos), Elvis and others. It was of course Elvis who changed what Memphis meant to the world and…

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Graceland In Depth & The All Things Elvis Photo Gallery

April 13, 2015 by  

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I typically don’t gravitate to the top tourist attractions when I land at a destination – largely, it’s not the tourist attraction per se that attracts me to the place, but there may be something about it or the people from a place I’m interested in finding out more about. You can’t go to Memphis Tennessee and not take in at least something connecting to Elvis Presley, especially if you love Rock-and-Roll and the blues. I of course, am a fan of both and have always loved Elvis songs. That said, I heard mixed things about Graceland so was somewhat hesitant about visiting, however I had to see it – after all, how did Priscilla decorate the house after all? I had to know and had to see, kitch 1960′s, 1970′s and all. Truth be told, it was a bit like people described – the size of the place is daunting since Graceland has become much much more than the home Elvis once lived in. After parking in a large lot, you then have to hop a shuttle bus to the beginning of the guided tour, which walks you through the main house itself. Luckily it was off-season so while…

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Celebrating 100 Years of Music Legend Frank Sinatra

April 11, 2015 by  

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Frank Sinatra called New York “our town.” Combine that pure city love, soulful voice, and the bluest of blue eyes, and you have yourself THE American icon, who can be celebrated in New York City.  The NYPL for the Performing Arts is commemorating the Frank Sinatra Centennial with a beautifully curated free exhibit through September 4th, showcasing 100 years of Frankie’s legacy. unnamed-20 The exhibit has never-before-seen photos, family mementos, artwork, outfits, video interviews, and of course, music galore.  You’ll learn a host of new things (Frankie was a painter! Frankie was a film star! Frankie was the original “The Voice”!) I particularly liked the interactive nature of the exhibit–there was one station where you could actually mix Frankie’s music yourself, a large jukebox where you could choose any and every Sinatra song ever made to play throughout the room, a huge wall filled with TV’s showing Sinatra in concert, and my personal favorite–a karaoke-like booth where you can record your voice singing New York, New York along with Sinatra’s.  Swoon! In addition to the exhibit, you can also stroll the streets of NYC and Hoboken, NJ, (Frankie’s birth place), checking out all his favorite haunts with this free walking tour.  I, for one, can’t wait…

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Your Guide To The Honky Tonk Music Scene in Nashville

April 8, 2015 by  

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Along Nashville’s Division Street, we had our first experience with the type of music bar Nashville refers to as “Honky Tonks.” Historically, honky tonks were rough establishments with music that served alcohol to “working class cliente.” Honky tonks were also known for their piano players, dancers and singers and often small bands played at them throughout the United States. In the early days, they also housed prostitution from time-to-time. Today, they’re mostly casual joints that play live music and serve drinks. Within the history and quirkiness of honky tonks scattered throughout Nashville lies everything from country music greats who had embarrassing moments on stage at the beginning of their careers to skeletons in the closet, literally. The Red Door Saloon apparently has a skeleton in the basement although we didn’t verify this with our own eyes when we passed through its doors. We went to the one on Division Street although they have locations in both East and West Nashville where basements in both have remnants of a life or two gone…

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Nashville’s SO Worth The Time Johnny Cash Museum

April 7, 2015 by  

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I’m old enough to know about Johnny Cash, but not old enough to have listened to his music every day growing up. That said, my relatives had many of his records, so they played on our old fashioned turntable that was filled to the brim with old 45′s and 33′s of classics from the 1920′s to the 1970′s. Johnny Cash was among them and while I was too young to understand just how raw of a talent and singer he was, there was something about his voice that was mesmerizing. I learned from fans and music lovers during a recent trip to Nashville that it wasn’t just his music that drew people to him, but his powerful presence and strong personality. I was fortunate enough to get to spend a few hours with Bill Miller, an old friend of Johnny Cash while in Nashville, who donated his collection of Cash-related rarities that he had been collecting for forty years. It was Bill and his wife Shannon, who opened the museum in May 2013. No typo there – the museum is actually that new, which is one of the things that makes it so special. Below, Bill stands below the warm…

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Bridging Virginia & Tennessee Lies Bristol’s Birthplace of Country Music

April 6, 2015 by  

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In a place you’d least expect it if you don’t have an intimate knowledge of all things “country,” there’s a new museum which only opened last August to celebrate the birthplace of country music. Bristol Virginia, which lies at the edge of the western part of Virginia and Tennessee, boasts a remarkable new non-profit, The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, which is designed to actively document and promote the history of country music. The museum itself offers a variety of interactive ways you can not only learn about country music history and the original Bristol recordings which made country music take off, but experience it, making it a must stop with children. For example, you can sing along to some of the original recordings from the time and hear yourself in a track after the fact. You can navigate through their Wayback Machine to hear some of the most historical music known in the world of country, most of which you may not have heard of if you’re under 40. On the second floor of the museum, you can take a look at the quilt created for the…

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RCA Studio B in Nashville, Where Many Country Greats Got Their Start

April 5, 2015 by  

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Located on historic Music Row, RCA’s Studio B is Nashville’s oldest recording studio and home to hits like Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely,” the Everly Brothers’ “Dream,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and 250 hits by Elvis Presley including “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” It was the long time recording home of popular music titans such as Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, the Everly Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, Dolly Parton, Jim Reeves, Willie Nelson, and Floyd Cramer among countless others. It is now a cultural landmark, where they offer daily tours of the facility, which is mostly untouched from old recording days. For many years, Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Chet Atkins managed RCA’s Nashville operation and produced hundreds of hits in Studio B. Built by Dan Maddox in 1957, RCA Studio B first became known as one of the cradles of the “Nashville Sound” in the 1960s. A sophisticated style characterized by background vocals and strings, the Nashville Sound both revived the popularity of country music and helped establish Nashville as an international recording center. For music historians, Studio B has also been home to numerous innovations in recording practices, including the development of…

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5 Great American Festivals in April & May for Food & Music Lovers

March 31, 2015 by  

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Festival lovers will be keen to learn about the abundance of options throughout the U.S. for the months of April and May. Given that we get pitched on nearly every kind of event and festival around the globe, it’s often harder to find the gems on American soil, especially in places that may not be on traditional tourism routes. Florida’s largest music and art festival is SunFest where you can catch music from nearly 50 bands across three stages in West Palm Beach from April 29 to May 3. There’s a lovely fine art and craft show that is part of the event and of course local artisans and photographers come out to show their latest. A KidZone offers kid-friendly activities throughout the course of the festival and the event ends with evening fireworks. Photo courtesy of Soyprensa.com.  BottleRock Napa Valley hits wine country will draw some renowned musicians to their event this year despite only being a festival force for 2 years. The third annual festival boasts a wonderfully delicious blend of wine and music, with entertainers like Robert Plant, Snoop Dogg, Gipsy Kings and others. In addition to sampling some of Napa’s great Cabs…

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