If you are headed to any of the Memphis in May festivities this year, it is imperative that you stop off at the ever so famous, Beale Street. As the Memphis headquarters of blues and rock and roll, you cannot help but enjoy the sweeping sounds exiting clubs, locals and tourists alike feasting on BBQ or a bit of soul food, and the generally good people watching.
Historically, Beale Street was the location of choice for many African-American musicians, singers and often a hot spot of politics. With time, the area also attracted varieties of people, but become a notorious hangout for gangsters who loved to drink and gamble in the 1920’s. It probably wasn’t the safest place on the earth, but it was a place to see and be seen. More importantly, Beale Street kick started the careers of several of blues greats, including B.B. King and Bobby Blue Bland. The 1960’s proved a rough patch in the history of Beale Street as it became run down and businesses sought better pasture, but the 1980’s began a rebirth of the street.
Beale Street is now a Historic Landmark in the state of Tennessee and stands out in the history of music, African-Americans and southerners. You can visit during a festival and enjoy all of the area’s best food and music with the throngs, but I might suggest visiting on a sleepy Memphis weekend, tuck yourself away in a smoky club corner and live the blues.