This was originally published here at FOTW back in 2013. It's still a good list and since so many Elvis-people are in town it seemed like a good thing to re-post. If you've never seen it before, enjoy. If you have, enjoy all over again!
#8: Alcenia's, 317 N. Main
Alcenia's is a funky little soul food joint at the Southwest edge of Memphis' Pinch District where meals are cooked to order and every new customer gets a hug. Although neither the restaurant, nor the building has a specific Elvis connection, sidewalk tables provide guests with the best view of the I-40 overpass in town.
Of course, when Elvis was a teenager living in the Lauderdale Courts housing project there was no scenic I-40 overpass. Instead, there was a cluster of African-American bars and in the evenings both the music and the crowds spilled out into the street.
Why Elvis fans won't visit: There's really not much to see, unless you count this sign marking the location of Memphis' first bar.
Why they should: The long demolished Green Owl, a working class African-American beer joint once located at 260 N. Main, just southeast of Alcenia's, was one of young Elvis' favorite neighborhood clubs. He was especially fond of a musician who played a homemade bass he'd fashioned from a bucket and a broomstick.
There's not much music along this somewhat lonely stretch separating the Pinch from the Convention Center, unless you count the song of all the cars and semis speeding by overhead. But these are the sidewalks where an impressionable teenaged Elvis mixed and mingled with blues players, and even though so much has been demolished, walking through Downtown's dilapidated but bouncing back north side, with its trolley line, horse stables and old shop fronts, is still like stepping back in time.
#7: The old Memphis Police Station, 128 Adams
These crumbling stairs...
Lead to this locked, boarded-up door...
That once served as an entrance to Memphis' Downtown Police Station.
Why Elvis fans won't go: Unless you're a fan of weeds and urban decay, why would you?
Why they should: Elvis was fascinated by law enforcement. The lengths he'd go to collect a new badge knew no bounds.
But it wasn't all about the bling. Elvis was also genuinely in awe of policemen, and would sometimes ride along after making late night/early morning visits to the station. He even visited the downtown station one Christmas claiming that he needed something to do and it was the only place in town that was open.
Besides, who doesn't love to picnic near classical ruins?
#6: The Blackwood Brothers Record Store, 209 N. Lauderdale
Why Elvis fans won't go: Because the building, located just off Poplar Ave. near the Jail, has been converted into a bail bondsman's office in what might best be described as Memphis' bail bond district.
Why they should: Elvis was a huge fan of gospel quartets, and the Blackwood Brothers, with their fancy customized touring bus...
and their own private plane...
were, to put it mildly, complete badasses. Also, you can see the site formerly known as Lauderdale Courts from the front door.
Today the only records being discussed at 209 Lauderdale are permanent ones, but when his soul needed a'rockin', this is where Elvis got his vinyl fix.
#5: Gulf Station, Second & Gayoso
I sometimes pretend that the above piece of public art is a monument built on the site where Elvis licked two gas station attendants then told the cops (jokingly) that his name was Carl Perkins.
Of course it's not and the the actual brawl went down across the street.
All three men involved in the altercation were charged with assault and battery, but Elvis had been struck first and the Judge ruled in his favor.
Why Elvis fans won't go: It's not an obvious landmark.
Why they should: Two reasons. This is where a scene plucked right out of an Elvis movie actually happened. Also, Elvis's life changed fast. This fight and the resulting day in court represent a dawning realization that life would never be normal again.
I don't think you can sell those at a yard sale, can you?
Confluence has been a staple of the Memphis music scene since 2002, appearing at local clubs, area dives, and private parties. Downs describes the band's sound as "a magical exploration of rock, country, reggae and jazz".
"The record label guys started sniffing around in 2004, but the deal has always fallen apart because we want to keep our integrity," said Downs while taking a break from his day job with a local tree service. "You can't put a price on that, you know?"
According to Downs, despite repeated deals going South with major labels for reasons involving "creative control," "money issues," and "weird vibes", Confluence is going to go big in the next few months. "Yeah, we've been approached by a major label to do a three CD deal," Downs said. "This time it's for real."
Other members of Confluence are not as optimistic. "I don't know," said guitarist Paul Fret. "Last time Neil told us the deal fell apart because they wanted us to do the Tonight Show, and Neil thinks Leno is a 'stooge,' so he refused to do it. And in 2010 he told us the A&R guys pulled out because of an argument over book rights. We don't even write books. I don't know, man. I don't know."
According to Downs, Confluence will be headlining at Coachella next April in advance of the release of the first album under the three CD deal that he says is all but certain to go down.
"But, hey, if anything does go wrong, Confluence will be rocking out that weekend at our regular El Banditos gig in Raleigh," Downs added.
Your Fly-Team loves the Orpheum and is all about supporting the Arts, but we were a little surprised to discover Orpheum CEO Pat Halloran's used iPhone 4 up for grabs at the downtown theater's weekly online auction.
According to the item's description the memory has been wiped clean, but this phone was personally used by Halloran so, "it got a lot of use booking Broadway at its best," and is valued at $300.
In related news Halloran was recently named to the Peabody Hotel's "Duck Walk Hall of Fame."
Labor Day is rapidly approaching and you know what that means: Time to put away all those white pants, shoes, and seersucker suits because people who wear those things in autumn risk being vanished by the fashion police.
So if you're looking to have one last hurrah in lightweight cotton, you won't want to miss Friday's second annual Thomason Hendrix Seersucker Flash Mob, which is a real thing. In fact, it's just like Memphis' yearly Zombie March, only stripier. And with a lot less blood and brains. Anyway, this showed up in my inbox yesterday, and I had to share:
Snapped on Park near Cherry:
The individual letter stickers spell out “PANTER.” As in "One who pants." Or perhaps the person who "PANTS" the "PANTEE."
It doesn't say PAINTER or PANTHER either. So here's my question: Is the driver a bad speller, a loud-and-proud obscene phone caller, or a cash-strapped Pantera fan saving up to buy that last gold foil “A”?
“I think this one’s gonna be a home run,” said CMOM CEO Dick Hackett. “I’ll be honest, our patrons have been a little leery of new ideas ever since Kidz in Orbit went so unexpectedly wrong. We’ve learned our lesson, and we won’t be purchasing active space-shuttle equipment any time soon.”
Opening day drew in hundreds of curious onlookers, who delighted in observing two boys roughhousing in a plexiglas terrarium constructed to resemble a playroom with astonishing accuracy. Those fortunate enough to stay until 3:15 witnessed feeding time, and could purchase handfuls of Cheerios to try their hand at nourishing another human.
“The best part of the Children’s Museum is that it’s interactive,” said one visiting mom, whose own children sported matching leashes. “I’m so glad they let some of the kidz out to play with my Aiden and Grayson. That little girl who works in the bank exhibit is so lifelike!”
But as with all new opportunities, there are challenges to face.
“I’ve heard reports that some of the more feral children have built a nest at the top of the Skyscraper exhibit and are hissing at visitors,” admitted Hackett. “And it’s true, a small cabal has hijacked the TV station exhibit and released a list of demands. Luckily, the signal only broadcasts locally, and they’re still getting the traffic reports out on time.”
Museum Kidz is confirmed through summer of 2014, and may become a permanent fixture depending on public response. Upon turning 18, the participants will be extended the opportunity to join the Pink Palace family, impersonating yellow fever victims, Piggly Wiggly employees and shrunken heads.
Now this is a job for Ben Affleck!
FOTW Curator's Note: Although Jim Palmer was never directly quoted, "Disappearing Ink," a Memphis Flyer cover package about vanishing newspaper cartoonists , wouldn't have been the same without his thoughtful comment and guidance. Jim has sent Fly on the Wall some samples from a new strip he's developing called, "Fried Earth Funnies," and I thought this was an especially nice example of his work.— Chris Davis
Truer words have never been spray painted on a billboard.
Currently on exhibit at McClean and Lamar.
The driver of this truck deserves one of the Commercial Appeal's awkwardly named "Memphis Most" awards, because it's a little awkward, and easily one of the most Memphis things I've ever seen.
From another angle...
Memphis T-shirt collectors rejoice! The Arthouse T-shirt shop at 706 S. Cox is about to become the home of the official Antenna Club T-shirt. Hot Rod monsters and other designs by Memphis comic book artist and filmmaker Mike McCarthy will also be available.
I've been hoping to stumble across an old Antenna shirt in a thrift store for years with no luck at all.
The Gold Club throws down a gauntlet...
What's better than running in the Breakaway-Bardog 5k to benefit St. Jude? Prancercising in the Breakaway-Bardog 5k to benefit St. Jude, of course. And, to attract sponsors, Memphian Betsy Taylor isn't just Prancercising, she's Prancercising dressed as the Prancercise Lady, Joanna Rohrback.
More people need to embrace this gimmick. Can you imagine how much more fun it would be to watch December's St. Jude Marathon if the particants Prancercised for 26 miles?
The Breakaway-Bardog 5k goes down Sunday, August 18. Click here for details.
International fans of Elvis impersonators gather tonight for "Tribute! A Tribute to Tributes!", a program of performers impersonating Elvis impersonators.
Thirty nine contestants are set to compete in the contest aimed at determining who does the best job of impersonating top Elvis impersonators.
"[Elvis impersonator] Pete Vallee is a god among men," said impersonator impersonator Dale Glade, a carpet installer from Yorkshire, England who won Belgium's Impersonator Impersonator contest in 2012. "I hope my performance captures a small piece of the work he does capturing a piece of Elvis."
"The real trick is to find a a song and sing it in Pete's voice," Glade added. "A lot of these impersonator impersonators try to impersonate Elvis. That's the easiest way to lose these things, isn't it? Sing in Pete's voice singing in Elvis' voice, but never, ever sing in Elvis' voice. It's easy, really."
Betty Wont, a mortgage banker from Toledo, Ohio, came in second place last year, but hopes to do better tonight. "The trick is finding a costume that Shawn [Klush] would wear. Authenticity is so important when pretending to be someone pretending to be someone," Wont said.
The contest begins tonight at 8 at an undisclosed Applebee's. Tickets can be purchased in advance, but, really, what's the point?
The REAL Shawn Klush. Not an impersonator.