Growing up in Florida in the BM era (Before Mickey) was to experience a Florida almost unimaginably different. The arrival of Disney World and the follow on attractions were, in my opinion, the ruination of an other wise delightful part of Florida. I am not a fan of the "touristy" places most locales tout as worth visiting.
But not always. Sometimes when traveling you encounter a place that exceeds expectations.
When visiting Memphis it is almost obligatory to visit Beale Street in Memphis, as ‘touristy’ a place as you can find. So I traipsed my happy ass down to Beale Street and was not expecting much. I could not have been more wrong. Beale Street is ‘touristy’. The drinks are absurdly over priced, the shops have little of actual value to offer and most of it could stand a thorough power washing.
But the music. All falls aside when you find the music.
Some grubby little dive bar on a side street that probably wouldn’t pass a fire inspection has a middle aged guy playing a guitar with mad skills. Not the flashy show-off licks the wanna-be’s try to pass off but legitimate serious musicianship of the highest order. Not some guy trying to ‘look’ bluesy but a guy with years of dedication to a particular musical art form.
You walk along and the corner ‘world famous’ tourist bar has a band playing blues that makes you stop, turn around and go in. Two brothers fronting a blues band that has played together 4 or 5 nights a week for the last 17 years. During the break between sets you buy the guy a dring and find out he is a conservatory trained musician with a degree in performing. Legitimate music played by dedicated folks. A event truly worth experiencing. And the next 3 days are the biggest weekend of the year for Memphis. Bluesfest. 3 stages, non-stop music and food. Might be a chance for more music.
Oh yeah, the food. Pretty good. Almost a cliche to eat ribs while listening to live blues but a wonderful experience.
Expectations were definitely exceeded.
Mark Jenkins said "Adventure is a path" and I agree. The entire quote from him follows:
Adventure is a path. Real adventure- self-determined, self-motivated, often risky- forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness.
In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind- and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.
It is a fun path.