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Seeking advice for US road trip Options
swoody72
Posted: Saturday, May 28, 2011 4:48:34 PM
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Dear fellow blues-travelers

Next year, we're heading to New York, and then a road trip to Nashville, Memphis, Clarksdale etc. Will be there June/July, and wondered if anyone has some recommendations for driving routes, attractions e.g. bars, clubs, juke joints, chicken shacks, cowboy boot shops...hell, anything! We're hoping for a musical pop-culture odyssey that takes in blues, alt coutry, punk, rock, good food and good times.

All advice would be gratefully received. :)
comanche
Posted: Saturday, May 28, 2011 5:07:10 PM
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Never been to the US, however I've heard that the pawn shops in Nashville are full of great guitars going cheap. Haggle like an Aussie!
bluesfestadmin
Posted: Sunday, May 29, 2011 11:26:46 AM
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Just did Nashville to Memphis to Clarksdale to New Orleans

Well worth doing - hope the seriously un-friendly guy at the Blues Museum in Clarksdale - who wears the Viet Vet Cap - is soon retired - what a pric*.
Ground Zero in Clarksdale is ok - area is not safe after dark.
Don't Miss Stax Museum in Memphis - give it AT LEAST 3 hours - absolutely brilliant....park out the back in police supervised car park....again area is not safe after dark - AND, I would only drive around that area with the doors locked to the car, and the windows up.
Graceland is pretty good too - Beale St is going down a bit, but worth a visit
If anyone tells you to go to Rendezvous in the alley opposite the Peabody Hotel for the best ribs in town, - DON'T Believe them......their ribs taste like it's a fast food place, and the reason the ONLY black people in the place are serving you, is because THEY know what ribs should taste like - and shun the place. it's a hype. I've had better ribs at Bubba Gumps.
I hear from Brian Wise the new BB King museum in Indianola is worth seeing - otherwise - maybe best you can do is fly down to New Orleans after visiting North Mississippi, as any time missed in New Orleans is truly a tragedy- and save 6 - 8 hours drive time.....then again, we rented a Caddy in Nashville for a week for a grand from Hertz - and had a ball....so up to you there.
Nashville is kind of a strange place in many ways - some say it was the original inspiration for The Truman Show - are all those people REALLY that nice - c'mon now.
swoody72
Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 5:40:39 PM
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Hey thanks so much for the great tips! Didn't know about the Stax Museum - excited about that now! Also the Caddy...very tempting. Cheers
kungfool
Posted: Thursday, June 02, 2011 6:41:50 AM
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Drop into New Mexico where we never had a bad meal. At Santa Fe exceptional food and value
at Cafe Pasquale and Tomasita's. Don't buy new or used cowboy boots in USA as I found them
cheaper back in Aust. Why? Who knows.
The music is mixed and stick to the free gigs. Where we paid we were disappointed. They have
musical hype over there as well. Great stuff at Cowgirls and I think Santa Fe hotel.
Generally clothes and footwear is cheap with the parity dollar.
Guitars are only good if you know your stuff. No bargains in this area as every one is
savvy in this area.
Portland and Seattle is great for music because with the horrible weather there
is nothing better to do than play music.
Hendrix museum in Seattle is a favorite and have been multiple times.
There is so much stuff you need 3 life times to get around all the stuff.
Dan...
Posted: Thursday, June 02, 2011 11:21:41 AM
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kungfool wrote:
Don't buy new or used cowboy boots in USA as I found them cheaper back in Aust. Why? Who knows.


really? i need your boot hook up! i always buy a pair when i'm over there because they're so cheap and i haven't been there when it's been anywhere near parity.

The poster formerly known as Dan
swoody72
Posted: Thursday, June 02, 2011 5:25:13 PM
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Dan... wrote:
kungfool wrote:
Don't buy new or used cowboy boots in USA as I found them cheaper back in Aust. Why? Who knows.


really? i need your boot hook up! i always buy a pair when i'm over there because they're so cheap and i haven't been there when it's been anywhere near parity.


Where do you get 'em in the US Dan?
Dan...
Posted: Friday, June 03, 2011 9:52:13 AM
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just from sheplers. big chain with a few locations. kind of like a k-mart for western clothes.

The poster formerly known as Dan
Rabbitoh_1969
Posted: Friday, June 03, 2011 1:23:15 PM
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Just check when buying your boots where they are made. I picked mine up in Arizonia from a Western Outfitters store and I noticed that many I looked at were made in China. Also got a very cool Brooks & Dunn shirt!

The one thing I did learn travelling over there is share meals! They're portions are huge and we ended up sharing meals because we found we were wasting too much food and/or over-eating!

jafa99
Posted: Saturday, June 04, 2011 7:51:17 PM
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Must-dos in Memphis:
1. Rock 'n' Soul Museum
2. Stax Museum of American Soul Music
3. Sun Studio
4. Graceland
5. National Civil Rights Museum
6. Beale St
7. Raspberry chicken crepe from Crepe Makers, 175 Peabody Place (one street from Beale St)
jafa99
Posted: Saturday, June 04, 2011 8:20:20 PM
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bluesfestadmin wrote:
Don't Miss Stax Museum in Memphis - give it AT LEAST 3 hours - absolutely brilliant....park out the back in police supervised car park....again area is not safe after dark - AND, I would only drive around that area with the doors locked to the car, and the windows up.

You make me wonder whether I was wise to walk there and back along McLemore Ave from Cooper-Young. I must admit, a guy from Harlem who drove me along McLemore a few days later was surprised I had walked there.
jafa99
Posted: Saturday, June 04, 2011 9:35:24 PM
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Thursday nights, Po' Monkey's juke joint near Merigold (30 miles south of Clarksdale). Usually DJs, only occasionally live music. Can give directions if you want.
YosemiteBaz
Posted: Thursday, July 07, 2011 5:23:19 PM
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Hey, I'm so jealous! I've been to the states a few times, all roadtrips. It really is the best way to see America. Back in 2009 I did a trip that took in Memphis and the Mississippi delta, so hopefully this is relevant. I can't comment on Nashville as I've never been there.

Routes:

I'm not sure if you're starting the roadtrip in New York but if you are highway 78 will take you into Pennsylvania where you can jump on the 81 which will take you all the way to Knoxville, Tennessee. From there the 40 will take you to Nashville and then on to Memphis. Those are major highways, which are especially useful if time is of the essence. If its not, you could take the Blue Ridge Parkway which pretty much runs parallel to the 81 through the Appalachian mountains. Its much slower but very scenic. At the start of it you've got Shenandoah NP, and then at the other end (on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee), you've got Smoky Mountains NP - worth the slight detour if you have the time. It depends what you're into of course, and if you're at all in to nature this route will appeal.

The highway system in the states is brilliant, and there are many ways you could go. Hwy 81 is the most direct, but again it depends how much time you've got and what and how much you want to see.

From Memphis, the 61 will take you to Clarksdale. Continuing on the 61 will take you through Cleveland and then on to Leland. Then heading east on the 82 will take you to Indianola and then Greenwood, after which it meets up with the 55 which you could use to take you on to New Orleans. The 55 is another major highway, and could easily be avoided if you wanted to.

Stuff to see and do:

Beale street is an absolute must in my opinion. Each to his own of course and I'm not saying not to go but I found Bourbon street (in New Orleans) very sleazy by comparison, and not as much about the music. Beale street on the other hand is very laid back and relatively safe... and of course all about the music. BB Kings blues club although usually packed is well worth at least one night. Obviously the name attracts people but its not as commercial as you might think. There's a reason its packed - the music is always great, even and especially the house band. There's a Ground Zero just off Beale, around the corner. It'd be worth at least having a look who is playing but don't be surprised if its dj type stuff. The Ground Zero in Clarksdale is a better bet music wise. There's heaps of other decent places along Beale street whose names I can't recall. Beale street isn't all that long, so I find the best bet is just walking up and down a couple of times and then decide which joint you want to head in to. Sometimes the busking in WC Handy park and elsewhere can be as good as anything being played in the venues.

I'm not sure if your dates are set in concrete but during May as part of Memphis in May there is the Beale street music festival. Its a three day festival that would be worth going to if you could be there at that time, but that said it doesn't rival Bluesfest! :-)

In Indianola check out the BB King blues museum and also Club Ebony. You may be luckier than I was in that there may be a gig on the night you're there! It was still pretty cool though, as I got to spend the night chatting and eating with locals out the front. Very friendly and welcoming, it was one of the highlights of my trip for sure. Also, each year in June Club Ebony holds the BB King homecoming. I think its on the first weekend in June, so you may be able to work it in???

I wish I had more time in the delta. A good website to visit is the Mississippi blues trail site.

Do a swamp tour if you get a chance in New Orleans (or just outside). And as strange as this may sound, check out a cemetary (during the day, not sure I'd do it at night, not on my own at least).

Other tips:

Grab a Rand McNally road atlas (the big one) when you get there. I reckon they're about the best thing since sliced bread! With a rand its unlikely you'd need a GPS. I think you can get them here but they're overpriced. You can get them over there from Kmart for under $10.

Assuming you're hiring a car, a good website is carrentals.com Hotwire sometimes has some cheap deals but they often require immediate payment. Generally, I've found carrentals.com to be better and cheaper. I usually hire a bigger car, only because I prefer the more comfortable ride in a larger car. If you're conscious of size and/or fuel costs, try a Pontiac G6. Great little car. Not too big, not too small, lots of power and awesome handling.

Accommodation wise, don't be afraid of Motel 6's. I've stayed in dozens of them all over America and have never had a bad experience. You won't get breakfast or anything extravagant, but considering the price you can't go wrong. Red Roof Inns are pretty much the same, though don't seem to be as common. There's a Motel 6 in Memphis too (accommodation is not too cheap in the downtown area). Its walking distance to Beale street if you don't mind a bit of a walk (25 or 30 mins).

As you enter each state you'll generally find rest areas that will have state info. In there you'll usually find coupon books that often have good accommodation deals for the surrounding areas. A state may have its own book, or be combined with other, smaller states. These are particularly useful if you're playing it by ear and not booking in advance.

Don't speed! The cops have a pretty good presence over there, especially on the highways.


Well I hope this helps. If you want any more info or anything feel free to message me. Have fun!

finleym
Posted: Friday, July 15, 2011 2:27:04 PM

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This thread is awesome.

Trumpet bells ringing
Bass drum is swinging
As the trombone groans
And the big horn moans
Dan...
Posted: Friday, July 15, 2011 2:32:26 PM
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finleym wrote:
This thread is awesome.


The poster formerly known as Dan
repete
Posted: Friday, July 15, 2011 7:29:56 PM
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One thing I loved driving east from New Mexico to Tennessee was the change from the dry desert air to the increasing humidity the closer we got to the Mississippi. And the music on the radio changed from predominantly country to something entirely more funky! Also, Beale Street on a Saturday night after midnight, when the tourists go home and almost only African Americans - family groups and hipster young'uns - remain. Good time to drop into the WC Handy Juke Joint. And definitely agree with Baz....in New Orleans avoid Bourbon Street (though have a drink at Old Absinthe House) - the truly great music is elsewhere.

Hangin' out on Frenchmen
Maccain09
Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 2:06:10 PM

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The shopping is great loads of Vinyl to be found - Crisp blues sounds…
Thrift shops are great much better that the rubbish you find at Salvos or St Vinnie's. I worked on many constructions sites over there and it was cheaper to buy 10 tee shirts and just throw them away rather than was every day.
First thing i usually do is buy an American flag and a union flag

I spent a lot of time in the Delta's, Chuck Norris was in a classic all American action adventure called Delta Force 1 & 2. Pretty good movie, when you are down south the folk expect that you at least have some knowledge of the great man. A few tips to help you out, everyone knows that recently he wrote a letter to President Barrack Obama asking him to lead from the Center and use the Constitution as his guide.

1.Chuck Norris is part Cherokee Indian
2.Chuck Norris has a lifetime karate record of 183 wins, 10 losses, and 2 draws.
3.Chuck’s brother Weiland was killed in Vietnam in 1970
4.Chuck Norris is an NRA member and supports the 2nd Amendment as an individual right


.
greybeard
Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 5:26:18 PM

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"4.Chuck Norris is an NRA member and supports the 2nd Amendment as an individual right"

The right for bears to keep peoples arms, or the Oslo amendment, I think



Heading out for the East Coast / Lord knows I've paid some dues gettin' through, / Tangled up in blues.
acb
Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 6:16:34 PM
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greybeard wrote:
"4.Chuck Norris is an NRA member and supports the 2nd Amendment as an individual right"

The right for bears to keep peoples arms, or the Oslo amendment, I think



...which reminds me of an old favorite: what has four legs and an arm? A happy pit bull terrier!
Maccain09
Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 10:16:43 PM

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Good gag. Another take grey man... If your police force are piss weak and impotent it might be in society's best interests for the law abiding to bear arms..
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