Memphis is the most interesting place I’ve ever visited in my life. Two weeks ago I spent the weekend in Memphis for the Beale Street Music Fest and I still have not gotten the experience out of my mind. I’ve realized that the main reason for my astonishment is that you never hear anything about Memphis. You’ve probably never been there and you probably don’t know anybody who has been there. Even if you’ve never been to places like LA, Vegas or Miami, someone you know has and you’ve already heard about places to go, things to see, etc. So in a way you’ve already been there.
Nothing could prepare me for what I was going to see. Living in Columbus, OH the past two years and being very much involved with the drunken debauchery surrounding Ohio State football games, I thought I had seen it all when it comes to partying. Umm…not exactly. The first thing I noticed when I arrived on Beale Street is that there are no laws. I was offered drugs and the services of a prostitute within 10 seconds of each other. The police set up barricades along the entrances to the street and you had to show your ID just to enter the street. Once inside, anything goes. For those fans of The Wire, Beale Street is the real life Hamsterdam, the area set up by rogue po-lice Major Bunny Colvin where drugs (and anything for that matter) are legal as long as you stay in the designated area.
The main focus of my attention was on the strange dichotomy of people. The male population was pretty much divided 50/50 between white Southern frat brahs sporting the John Parker Wilson hairdo and crunkish black guys auditioning to be an extra in the next Three 6 Mafia video. There was no in-between, except for me, an average looking white dude who loves Memphis rap music (Project Pat, Three 6, etc.) Needless to say, I was in heaven. I was walking down Beale drinking a big ass beer and eating a barbeque pork sandwich while oogling Southern belles, watching guys backfip all the way down the street, and listening to blaring rap music coming from every direction. Not to mention my sighting of Memphis balla Joey Dorsey, who is by far the largest man I have ever seen in person.
As for the actual Music Festival, it rocked. The festival is held on the first weekend in May and is set up on 4 stages on the banks of the Mississippi River (where Beale Street dead ends to the West). I got to see Project Pat, Colbie Collait, and Arrested Devolpment among many others. And yes, I may be the only person in the world who loves all three of those musicians. Unfortunately, my group had to drive back to Ohio Sunday morning and missed the last day of performers, which would have included O.A.R. and Fergie. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll be back next year. I mean if any single town can produce Elvis, BB King, Johnny Cash, Three 6 Mafia, and Justin Timberlake, you know it’s a place worth coming back to.