Category Archives: tennessee

Road trip to Franklin, Leiper’s Fork, Arrington Vineyard – Pucketts, two locayions

Arrington Vineyards

Arrington Vineyards

We got lucky  with the weather for our road trip south into Tennessee walking horse country. Following winding two lane back roads in and out of hollers, often along roads lined with fences, past Confederate battle sites, gracious old southern horse farms and garish McMansions, we stopped for a great lunch at Puckett’s – outstanding mufaletta sandwich with dirty rice, fried catfish poboys, gumbo, key lime pie in a fun old space full of music triangle memorabilia. The Sunday brunch for $17 was more than all but one of us could manage. Quite a deal.img_0340

We walked around the square (more like a circle) in tony downtown Franklin and found a few stores open (with some good sales) and Civil War sites. Also stopped in the visitors center where we got a helpful map of back roads to quaint Leiper’s Fork which was much more lively on a Sunday than when I visited on a weekday. The general store, also owned by Puckett’s, is wonderfully scruffy, with shelved lined with large cans of collard greens and bags of black eyed peas. Well heeled bikers on bicycles and motorcycles) sat at outside tables, enjoying the sun and warm temps (low 60s). A little girl walked a baby pig on a leash in a little store beside the market. Four guys on guitars played oldies inside the market by the front counter.

Onto Bailey Road south (gorgeous) and a few other roads east to Arrington Vineyards, a beautiful spread atop a hillside with great views of horse farms nearby. PLace is owned by a country singer (Kix Brooks). Good wine too. Such a fun day!img_0336


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Memphis: takemewithyou (cleaning up some loose ends)

More on Memphis – for E. and friends who are heading there.  With the help of my journal (#50) and the Internet, I jogged my memory on a few specifics, most having to do with food.

The BBQ place we went to near Graceland is Marlowe’s – kinda corny commercial decor with smiling pig in a pink limo as its mascot but ribs and service good.  On Beale Street, we did in fact eat ribs at The Blues City Cafe. Here’s some of my journal entry from that day to give you a little feel for the place….

June 28, 2008:

re Stax Museum “Really interesting and suitably scruffy around the edges (some of the museums here have been Disneyfied). One block away in front of a ramshackle store, some women in very skimpy bikinis were holding up signs that, upon closer scrutiny, read “Car Wash.”

re hotel/riverwalk/trolley: “Our hotel is right downtown on a pretty little pocket park and overlooking another park that faces the Mississippi. We walked along the riverfront with pretty parks and a promenade. Memphis has done a nice job of fixing up this area for tourists. Then we took an old wooden trolley along the river and  through town, getting off at Beale Street. A great deal for $1 and a great alternative to driving.

re Beale Street: “Beale Street started off quiet at 6:30 p.m. but by 9 p.m. was packed on a surprising breezy but not at all humid Saturday night. We started at Blues City Cafe, ate ribs in a  dark room with giant photos of Elvis and BB King and listened to an old-fashioned Doo Wop Group (The Masquerades) – three older men in black outfits and cowboy hats. We walked down Beale Street listening to bands here and there outside including a really good one of rough-looking characters in Handy Park.  Both Noah and I were asked to dance by some strange drunken street people. We went to a more sedate club – Ground Zero just off Beale Street where we saw our best band of the night – the Reba Russell Band. By the time we went back to Beale Street, it was cordoned off by police who set up checkpoints to check IDs.  (As a minor, Noah had to be off the street by 11 p.m.)”

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Filed under memphis, tennessee

Memphis: takemewithyou (as promised)

Okay Emmylou, here’s what I’ve got for YOU – recommendations for Memphis based on our 2008 trip there!

We stayed at the Sleep Inn at Court Square  downtown – good location, clean, pleasant, reasonably priced ($125 for a double in 2008) right near the Mississippi and near the tracks for the funky old Main Street Trolley car that will take you to Beale Street and back for much less than the hassle of driving, parking, and returning possibly inebriated.

Things to do:

Walk or jog along the Mississippi Riverwalk.

Be sure to walk through the Peabody Hotel – this is the one where the ducks parade through the lavish lobby.

The Civil Rights Museum, located in the former Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was assassinated. Give yourself plenty of time. (Oddly, when I was in Memphis with my dad in 1989, a woman was protesting outside the motel – she didn’t want it to become a museum. In 2008, a group was still out there protesting.)

We loved the STAX Museum of American Soul Music – complete with Isaac Haye’s real car (which, as I recall, had power blue fake fur upholstery).  This rough n’ tumble neighborhood reminded us of the one portrayed in “Hustle and Flow” – the very good movie filmed in Memphis (“It’s hard out here for a pimp” was its Oscar-winning song.) If you haven’t seen, do! There are several music museums in Memphis – this one struck us as the most interesting and authentic, located in the original STAX Record Co. building/neighborhood rather than glitzy downtown.

En route to the museum, we stopped for soul food at The Four Way (998 Mississippi Blvd.) an old neighborhood place. Great fried chicken, okra, lemon meringue pie etc.  Be careful with the hot sauce.

If you happen to be in Memphis on Sunday morning, DO NOT MISS   a visit to Rev. Al Green’s church (that would  be Gospel Legend Al Green.) He is often there singing – along with many other church members who are great singers and musicians. Alas, when we visited “Al Green’s Full Gospel Tabernacle,” Al was off promoting his latest album but there was a several-piece band – horns, keyboard, drums, etc. – and one person after another got up to give wrenching testimony, some of it inevitably in the form of the most astonishing gospel singing. We were a little shy about entering at first but we were far from the only visitors – there were rows of us, mostly white folk, some from as far away as The Netherlands. Noah had to drag me out of the church after over an hour. I could have stayed all day.

Rev. Green’s church is not far from Graceland and if you haven’t been, you should go – it’s overpriced and tacky but truly an American experience. There’s a good BBQ joint across the street called  – i can’t remember the name. will look up.

Speaking of BBQ, we had some good ribs at  Blues City Cafe, I think,  on Beale Street. Beale Street is very touristy but it’s  fun and there’s as much free music outside in little pocket parks along the street as there is inside the clubs. Our choice of clubs was a bit skewed – since my priority was finding one that would  admit a 16-year-old kid  (which Noah was at the time…oddly the criteria wasn’t booze, it was smoking. If there was smoking, no kids allowed.)

Not all the Beale Street clubs are on Beale Street – we enjoyed local favorite Reba  Russellaround the block at Ground Zero, an offshoot of the club opened by Morgan Freeman (yes, that Morgan Freeman) in his hometown of Clarksdale, Ms, about two hours south of Memphis. (I’ll blog on that next!)

To find the best music, consider emailing this guy: Don’t know if  Wesley is still at the Rum Boogie club on Beale Street but  he was incredibly helpful, filling me in on all the musicians playing on Beale Street. (Unfortunately we couldn’t go to his club because…it had smoking.)

all this really makes me want to return to Memphis. takemewithyou!

Check out the 2005 NYTimes 36 hours memphis piece and the one last Sunday in NYT travel section on edgy Memphis….I was fine with touristy Memphis….

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Filed under memphis, takemewithyou, tennessee