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Land of the American Kings - Elvis, BB King and King Cotton
For millions around the world Memphis and Mississippi first and foremost mean music. If Mississippi was the birthplace of the Blues, Memphis became home to the music as aspiring musicians headed north on Highway 61 to perform their music on Beale Street. One of them traded his first name Riley for The Beale Street Blues Boy and today B.B. King still has a club on the lively street, which is now the premier entertainment district of the entire South.
Mississippi also gave birth to another king, Elvis Aaron Presley, in a 2 room, shotgun house in Tupelo. His love of music began here when his mother bought him a guitar from the Tupelo Hardware Store for his eleventh birthday. When the Presley family moved to Memphis, Elvis Presley joined forces with Sam Phillips at Sun Studio to revolutionize popular music and Rock’n’Roll was born.
Per person price includes:
Return flights UK to Memphis
9 nights accommodation in sought after locations
10 days car hire
A personalised road book with travel tips and day to day driving itinerary with local area information
Memphis, Beale Street and the Blues Highway
Delta Blues Museum and Ground Zero Blues bar
BB King Museum and Lusco’s
The Greenwood Blues Heritage Museum and Gallery
Nashville and Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum
Stax Museum of American Soul Music
Smithsonian’s Rock’n’Soul Museum
In order to enhance your itinerary we strongly suggest a Wednesday or Thursday arrival in to Memphis. This will allow for a Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in Clarksdale and Greenwood. Blues entertainment is only available Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in these small towns. Furthermore, near Greenwood is one of only two truly authentic “juke joints” in Mississippi, Po Monkey’s and it is only open on Thursday nights. Also near Greenwood is Club Ebony, now owned by B.B. King, and it is only open Thursday through to Sunday nights and with live blues mostly only on Friday and Saturday.
Day 1 : Arrive Memphis
Arrive Memphis Airport and transfer to hotel. In the evening there’s still a chance to sample the musical delights of Beale Street, but don’t worry you’ll have two more nights in Memphis to truly experience the Birthplace of Rock’n’Roll and Home of the Blues.
Day 2 : Memphis to Clarksdale
Distance: 74 miles
Drivesouth on historic Highway 61 – known as the Blues Highway – to Clarksdale in the heart of the Delta. A hundredyears ago, this was a dark, swampy land populated by poor sharecroppers. Clarksdale has a rich Blues heritage. Names like Muddy Waters, Charley Patton and Robert Johnson dot the musical landscape here. Their legacies continue to inspire and entertain millions of people worldwide. Clarksdale's historicBlues Alley is home to the Delta Blues Museum, dedicated to both the preservation and interpretation of the Blues. Clarksdale has a thriving live music scene with clubs open every weekend and festivals scattered throughout the year. Local Hollywood actor and star, Morgan Freeman, runs his own fine restaurant, Madidi, and the popular Ground Zero Blues bar.
LIVE MUSIC IS FRIDAYS AND SATURDAYS ONLY IN CLARKSDALE
Day 3 : Clarkesdale to Greenwood
Distance: 57 miles
Continue south on Highway 61 then west to Indianola for the new B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center. He started life as Riley B. King in one of America’s most impoverished places, the Mississippi Delta. Now he’s an international music icon, and music lovers everywhere want to know more about the man who became B.B. King.
The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Centre tells the story of King’s life, his career, and stories of the Delta – its history and music, social mores and race relations, literature and legends, adversities and successes.
Continue to Greenwood and be sure to have dinner at the famous Lusco’s – a local institution for more than fifty years.
Day 4 : Greenwood to Tupelo
Distance: 120 miles
In historic downtown visit The Greenwood Blues Heritage Museum and Gallery, that houses an important collection of Blues memorabilia. The museum's focus is on Robert Johnson, who allegedly sold his soul to the devil for the ability to play the guitar like no other. Or make time for a cooking class at the Viking Cookery School and learn how to prepare traditional Southern dishes and delicacies.
Continue west and near Starkville join the Natchez Trace Parkway, which dates back over 8,000 years when it was used as an Indian trade route. By the 1800s, it was the busiest highway in what was then the American Southwest. Extending from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi, the Trace offers a scenic drive through pristine forests and lush countryside – without a billboard in sight.
Day 5 : Tupelo to Nashville
Distance: 180 miles
Visit the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum. Elvis fans can tour the home, museum, memorial chapel, fountain of life, story wall and enjoy the self-guided tour that leads to somof the most significant locations of Elvis’ life in Tupelo. Make time for the Tupelo Hardware Store, a timeless gem where Gladys Presley bought Elvis his first guitar. Elvis wanted a gun but they compromised on the guitar. And music has never been the same since.
Continue north along the Natchez Trace Parkway to Nashville, known as Music City.
Day 6 : Nashville
See the legendary Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and RCA Studio B where the Nashville Sound was created by Chet Atkins, Dolly Parton, the Everly Brothers, Elvis and many others. Be sure to hear some live music at a classic honky tonk like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in the District, Nashville’s downtown entertainment area. Kick up your heels to the Country sounds at the Wildhorse Saloon or take a cabaret dinner cruise aboard the General Jackson Showboat on the Cumberland River.
Day 7 : Nashville to Memphis
Distance: 210 miles
From Nashville head west to Memphis and en route take time to stop in Jackson along the Music Highway (Interstate 40) and stop in Jackson, home to Carl Perkins of Blue Suede Shoes fame. In his honour Jackson now houses the International Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Mural and Rockabilly Park – all in historic downtown and offering a fascinating insight into Jackson’s remarkable musical legacy. While in Jackson, be sure to sample the Southern delicacies served at The Old Country Store at the Casey Jones Village.
Take a slight detour from Jackson and drive through Nutbush – the birthplace of Tina Turner and the title of one of her greatest hits – before continuing to Memphis.
Day 8 : Memphis
Renowned as the birthplace of rock’n’roll and home of the blues, Memphis more than matches its myth. Pilgrims flock from all over the world to find a vibrant city that while cherishing its past remains very much alive. Visit Graceland, Elvis’ beloved mansion, see his two private jets and the fantastic Automobile Museum. Don’t miss the tour at famous Sun Studio and be sure to see the Stax Museum of American Soul Music as well as the Smithsonian’s Rock’n’Soul Museum and the Gibson Guitar Factory. Then dance the night away at any of the clubs on historic Beale Street.
Day 9 : Memphis to UK
Make time for some last-minute shopping at any of Memphis’ retail or outlet malls before checking-in for your flight home. However, your adventure doesn't have to end here, perhaps you may want to extend your tour and include a trip to New Orleans or explore more of America's Deep South heritage.
Call the travel specialists at Bon Voyage to discuss your perfect Land of American Kings tour.