Going to Graceland

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Thursday May 10, 2018

Actually, I am at Graceland waiting for my friends to finish their tour of the mansion. It is the start of a busy day with visits to Stax and the National Civil Rights Museum to follow and then the Blues Awards in the evening. It is near the end of the trip with just two days to go until we fly out of Nashville.

The Graceland site has been renovated over the past couple of years – at least the site over the road from the mansion has been modernised. There is a new reception area and larger more modern gift shops. It now resembles most theme parks and has lost some of its charm. But the mansion remains largely the same and that is the main attraction.

We also had a big day yesterday, travelling up from Clarksdale and the Delta Blues Museum with a detour to Oxford and Roanoke, the William Faulkner House, as well as the Ajax Diner and Square Books (one of my favourite bookstores anywhere). The day finished with Sun Studio – still a great place to visit and completely unmodernised. In the evening we dined at Rendezvous, the famous rib joint on Union Ave. Every other time I have been there it has been packed but tonight it was relatively quiet.

When we sat down and started perusing the menu a gentlemen at the next table learned across and said, ‘Don’t even think about it just order the large serve of ribs.’ It turned out to be an order we did not refuse. He also suggested (ordered?) that we try the sausage and cheese plate (with pickles) as the appetiser. Why not?

Our new friend, named Don, turned out to be a local who had been eating at rendezvous for 42 years! He spoke in the local twang as did his friend Dave, who later showed us the hand gun that he was carrying! (A neat little pistol in a lovely black holster that could do some large damage).

Our new friend, named Don, turned out to be a 59-year-old local who had been eating at rendezvous for 42 years! He spoke in the local twang as did his friend Dave, who later showed us the hand gun that he was carrying! (A neat little pistol in a lovely black holster that could do some large damage). I have never seen anyone in Australia with a hand gun and I am hoping that it stays that way. Ron seemed rather scornful of the fact that someone in our country had ‘taken all the guns away,’ which is not quite true.

How did I guess that Don and Dave were Trump supporters even before they asked what Australians thought of Donald Trump? As Michael said, they were white and in the South. We deflected the question about the Donald saying that, as visitors, we didn’t like to talk about politics. I did point out that Australia has something that the USA lacks – compulsory voting – but this seemed to make no impression on them at all. Perhaps I could have added that this would have ensured that someone like Trump could never be elected to power in Australia because he would never get to lead one of our parties but maybe I am wrong. Ron told us that they ‘loved’ Donald and spouted a few things about Hilary that he had obviously seen on Fox News. Sometimes it is good to just accept people’s friendliness and not get into politics.

Michael is making a radio documentary and interviewed not only Don but one of the chefs who revealed the astonishing poundage of pork that is eaten here every week (did he say 7,000lbs?). A vegetarians nightmare!

Our dozen charcoal broiled ribs each were filling to the extent that I felt like a good lie down afterwards but I have to say that I found them a tad dry and I have had better elsewhere. Heresy? Today, I am not sure that I can face any food and we may have to forego a visit to Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken which kind of breaks my heart. I think I might have to turn pescatarian.

It was bike night on Beale Street and so we went for a stroll and saw every kind of Harley imaginable and a very few non-Harleys. There were a few gigs on, with Rum Boogie Cafe sounding good, but we’ll get a feast of blues tonight so we headed back to our digs.

Michael and I are sharing a cosy room at the Sleep Inn (perhaps a little too cosy for our liking) and the rate seems rather steep, perhaps because of the demand created by the Awards. Rob and Dave have a more spacious two-bedroom Air B’n’B around the corner.

When I drop the boys off to Stax I am going to get to the Cooper Young area to try to find a decent coffee and visit the bookstore!

Brian Wise

Brian Wise was the Editor of Addicted To Noise‘s Australian site from 1997 – 2002. The site won two ONYA Awards as Best Online Music Magazine in 1999 & 2000. He has also been Editor since its reincarnation in 2013. He also presents the weekly music interview program Off The Record on 102.7 Triple R-FM (rrr.org.au) in Melbourne. It is networked to 45+ stations across Australia on the Community Radio Network and is a four-time winner of the Best Music Program Award from the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. In 2012, it was nominated as a finalist in the Excellence in Music Programming category. Brian was also the Founding Editor & Publisher of Rhythms Magazine and is now its Senior Contributing Editor.

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