|Memphis – Finally something in Memphis that reflects the real source of its soul! Located just one block off Beale Street in the building also occupied by the new Gibson guitar factory, the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum captures this real root history of rock, the rural south’s fields, churches and poverty.|
Far removed from L.A. glam and New York glitter and the modern Hall of Fame in Cleveland, rock-n-roll was born in what city folks would have termed “squalor.” In that life condition, perpetuated in land control that kept many sharecroppers in lifetime poverty, music expressed the soul groans of generations. That, matched with postwar prosperity in the fifties, exploded in Memphis, Tennessee and this world’s culture has never been the same.
The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, with individual CD audio and extensive narration and music selections, allows each visitor ample time to delve into that Memphis world where black and white were legally separated, but where the common experience became expressed in music.
Some of the music was religious. Some of it was hillbilly or country. Some of it was blues. In Memphis from Sun through Stax it blended as never before.
Here told in song, story, memorabilia and display is that story. It is well told.
Those looking for understanding, shared experience and history will love it. Those looking for star music displays may be disappointed. For the stars here are not just the well known, but the lesser, the artists, musicians, radio personalities, citizens that formed the culture from which the music was born.
Linked with the Smithsonian, this is a first class life museum. Memphis should have had this a long time ago.
Museum Facts: Location on Third just one block from Beale Street. Admission $6 for adults and $4 for those ages 5 – 17.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE ROCK ’N’ SOUL MUSEUM
Carl Perkins – The museum introductory video opens and closes with Carl Perkins. First Carl Perkins and the Perkins Brothers Band in the 1950’s and then Carl Perkins solo in the 1990’s on an acoustic guitar. There would be no better person to reflect the story and Carl Perkins fans will be delighted with the showcase.
More than just the big stars – Great to see, not only Sun and Stax, but other labels such as Hi get recognition and artists such as Billy Lee Riley included in the narration. Displays include memorabilia not only from Elvis, B. B. King and others but players such as Ace Cannon and singers such as Eddie Bond. It’s all Memphis’ music.
Radio/TV – The displays that include everything from an explanation of WDIA to the displays of Dewey Phillips and WHBQ, WHER, WMPS and WSM in Nashville reveal a museum with understanding of all the elements that combined in Memphis to reflect the new culture and express the old.
Studios/Instruments – How about the Sun Recording Service console and tape machine on which all this music was recorded? How about the organ on which “Suspicious Minds” was written? How about the saxophone from Dr. Martin Luther King’s favorite musician? It’s all here and much more.
Stax – How about a reminder of how black and white, though separated in Memphis, uniquely worked together at Stax Records, truly a Memphis integrated company?
The museum is a must see.
THERE IS ANOTHER MUSEUM TO SEE IN MEMPHIS
In addition to Graceland, the Sun Recording Service, The Memphis Music Museum and others there is another special museum that Memphis’ music fans should tour, Mud Island. This museum is about the Mississippi River. It’s displays take a visitor all the way back to prehistoric mid-south roots and up through the river glory days when the Mississippi was the king of transportation and travel.
It ends with music from Beale to rock because the curators knew the connection that linked river, life and music.
Those who visit will leave with a new appreciation and understanding.
No individual audio devices at this museum it is straight display and collective sound guidance. It is still an excellent museum.
By Steve Bowers