Never has a street been as synonymous with the auditory as Beale Street in Memphis. Oh, there are the horns and sirens of NYC’s 5th Avenue and the jazz of Bourbon Street, but one stroll or drive down the Official Home of the Blues and your ears will experience a whole new constellation of sound. The history of Beale Street includes more than the blues—it’s a diverse musical story for lovers of all genres.
Rock ‘N’ Roll All Night
If you have rock ‘n’ roll in your soul, you’ll find plenty of things to do on Beale Street. Start at Alfred’s on Beale–the first club in the area to offer live rock ‘n’ roll–just east of S 3rd Street. Peruse the largest collection of gold records in the U.S. and flex your rock muscles during their regular karaoke. Party like a rock star on the double-decker patio as you overlook mere mortals on the street below.
Head a block west to do like David Bowie and embrace the “power of Voodoo” at Tater Red’s Lucky Mojos and Voodoo Healing. In addition to tarot cards and other mystical gear, they offer a ton of autographed memorabilia from your favorite rock gods—from electric guitars to beer-stained coasters.
If you think you’ll miss your car on this pedestrian-friendly street, come on the last Tuesday of the month April-October for Hot Rods on Beale. Hosted by local car clubs, nothing says old school rock ‘n’ roll like this ode to souped-up muscle cars.
Don’t Chase the Blues Away
Embrace the less sunny side of life at B.B. King’s Blues Club and experience Beale Street Historic District at its most nostalgic. The street has been hosting blues performances for over 150 years, and B.B. King’s has carried on that tradition since 1991. Ease your mood with comfort food that includes award-winning ribs and creamy mac ‘n’ cheese.
Walk from 2nd to 3rd Street to sprinkle a little sugar in your bowl at the Rum Boogie Café, and take those woes to the dance floor like nobody’s watching.
Keep hitting blue notes half a block west at Memphis Music, the largest blues specialty store in the world. If you visit in January, don’t miss the International Blues Challenge, a Beale Street signature event featuring over 120 international acts.
Keep Your Spirt Loose and Free
Get your bohemian rhythms on at King’s Palace Café’s Absinthe Room between 2nd and 3rd Street. Dark stairwells and comfy couches set the stage for absinthe-dowsed times you may only vaguely remember the next day. Soak up some of those spirits with the Shrimp Velvet or Voodoo Chicken.
Follow the green fairy across the street to Silky O’Sullivan’s, “where every day is like St. Patrick’s Day.” Their singalong piano show is the perfect way to let your freedom ring.
Keep it uninhibited with some live music in W.C. Handy Performing Arts Park, which hosts shows for crowds ranging from several thousand to a few hundred. The park never charges and all are welcome, especially every Friday night June-August for Memphis Jams on Beale. It’s the kind of openness your free spirit seeks.
Whether you come for a specific event such as the Beale Street Music Festival or to experience the general sights, sounds, and tastes, this iconic area will have your inner music lover dancing in the streets.