Miscellaneous Rumbles

Trip advice: Nashville/Memphis OR New Orleans?


Wife & I taking a trip for my 50th. Music & food.

We've been to Nashville twice already, but we do love that town. Thank God Robert's, Layla's, and Full Moon (along with BB King's Blues, and the Boogie Bar in Printer's Alley) are still fighting the good fight against the Bro Country onslaught.

Never been to Memphis, would do a couple night there in the blues clubs.

As for NO, we went there once, before Katrina. I wasn't a foodie back then, and the crowd I was with was more interested in Bubba Gump's shrimp and finding Hurricanes than they were about finding good music.

So, what do you think? 2 nights in Nash+2 nights in Memphis, or probably a 3-nighter in New Orleans?



If you can't find good music and good food, you're in the wrong town.


Another vote for Naurlin's.


Oh,if there were someway to get that whole lower foot of LA,that mecca of food from Lafayette down to Avery Island(home of Tobasco Sauce),back over to Baton Rouge and down to NO and plant it all smackdab in between Nash and Memphis....oh $h!t ,I’d just uproot and move there in heartbeat....never mind a vacation!! With that outburst said ,I’d go back to NO...as much as I love Nashville & Memphis I’m a little more swayed to the spicy food, music and spooky nights of New Orleans.


If NOLA go see the Preservation Hall Jazz band. Also check out the bands on Frenchman St. If you look hard enough you can still find good Jazz on Bourbon St between the loud rock bands and sleazy strip clubs, just don’t mind the smell.


We did NOLA and Memphis on route to the Delta Roundup in 2015. Also Nashville on route to the Hossier Roundup in 2016 and again in 2018.


I wasn’t impressed with the Blues bands on Beale St. We’ve got better here in Tampa. But you gotta do Sun and Graceland in Memphis.


Do the Triangle---all three!

– wabash slim

I'd hate to squeeze too much into only a few days. To do all 3 would take a week, and we simply can't take that much time.

If we did Nash/Memphis, it'd likely be 4 nights (due to the drive over from Nashville taking half a day)

If we did NOLA, it would likely be 3 nights.


Echo the suggestion to hit Frenchman rather than Bourbon St in NOLA. Amazing jazz over there!


I would rather go to Nashville a hundred times than go to Memphis once.


NOLA! Love it, and I hate big towns. Stay away from bourbon street, unless you like stupid dumb tourist types. The bands along there play awful 70's covers, you probably have better where you're at. But... every other place has it goin on. Right off the French Quarter is the Faubourg Marigny District on Frenchmen St. Small clubs where it's really cool. Like any big city, use your street sense, but I've never felt in a dangerous situation.


Avoid Memphis? Even if I've never been there? Isn't that one of the "pilgrimages"?


You might enjoy it if you've never been. Graceland, Sun studio and the zoo are pretty much the highlights. There are some good restaurants if you know where to go. The Gibson factory was cool but it's closed down now. Not many good music stores left anymore. The city is not very well laid out and there are a lot of places you wouldn't want to end up by yourself. Lots of panhandlers and crime. I hate to say that but it's the truth.


Memphis is really a rough town. Lots of areas to stay away from. Nawlins can be rough as well, and it's really touristy in places. So, Nashville if you're country, Memphis if you're Blues and early rock, and NO if you're a jazz guy.


Memphis is fine. I've been several times, once with kids, and no trouble. Expect a touristy and packaged experience on Beale St, but it still gives a sense of the place.

Nice trolley tours to get the lay of the land, and a downtown compact enough to trolley/walk to important landmarks. Peabody Hotel, Lansky's, Dewey Phillips' home base, and some great museums - of "high" culture as well as roots music history.

Then absolutely Sun and Graceland; not only will you understand early R&R and Elvis much better, but just the drive from place to place will give you a sense of the area and the cultural currents that shaped the music.

So much great stuff. Stax Records, Lorraine Motel, the Pyramid - and a cool ornamental iron museum in a Civil War-era former military hospital on the bluffs overlooking the Miss River south of town. (Her home was on the south side, high up on the ridge, just a half a mile from the Mississippi Bridge.)

And there used to be a Gibson tour. I don't know if the Smithsonian Museum of Rock & Soul is still there (it was upstairs in Gibson's downtown building), but if it is, it's a don't-miss.

I found Memphis pretty welcoming and easy to take in, more southern-feeling than Nashville. We didn't do anything stupid or go out of our way to find trouble, but I never felt threatened or even uneasy.

It helps to read up on the 40s, 50s & 60s musical history of the area before going, then a visit really helps the tumblers fall into place.

For jazz, blues, rock, soul, and funk history, I find Memphis more interesting than Nashville. The two cities are also further apart than you think, and the cultures more different.

And when you're doing Memphis, you should take a couple days to do the north Delta. It's very rural, not congested, easy to drive, and packed with humble locations (not grand enough to be landmarks, which is what ends up being compelling about them) where the blues were born and raised.

Tunica - home of the casinos, another cultural study in themselves, as well as Abbay and Leatherman plantation where Robert Johnson lived.

Clarksdale, with lots of blues connections and a good little museum at the train station where Muddy Waters left for Chicago to carry the blues north and electrify it. His home cabin is displayed there.

You can drive from Clarksdale to Friar's Point on the Mississippi, where Johnson and others played for tips in front of a drug store (still there) when passengers disembarked from riverboats tied up near the levee. (When it breaks, people gonna weep and moan.) Across the river is West Helena, AR, with its own humble (and humbling) blues history.

On the 2-lane between Clarksdale and Friar's Point, you pass the Morganfield cabin site, between the stream where McKinley got muddy as a boy and the Stovall Plantation fields he plowed as a young man before buying that ticket north. (I picked up a clump of dirt at the edge of the field, and kept it in a bottle for years.)

A little further south along the river is Rosedale, just a little river town where you probably can't still barrelhouse all night long. But take your rider by your side, just in case.

There's the Parchman Farms prison where a number of bluesmen served time, the remains of Dockery Plantation where Charley Patton worked and played his seminal blues. Tiny Tutwiler with its train station where big-town bandleader Wm C Handy from Memphis (remains of a homesite are still there) first heard a field hand playing slide guitar, and went away to derive a chord progression from it and publish it as a "blues."

Since we were in the area and saw it was there, I had to drive to and throw something off the Tallahatchie bridge.

For an overnite, you can stay in a sharecropper's shack at the Shack-Up Inn east of Clarksdale, at the site of the first plantation to deploy the mechanical cotton picker which put the final nail in the rude wood coffin of the south's sharecropper economy and sent so much of its black population north.

We did Memphis and a fair amount of the "blues trail" decently in a few days. With a little more time, I would like to have wound on down through Mississippi to Nawlins, catching other sites along the way.

I'd ditch Nashville and just do Memphis and the Blues Trail. I got more out of that than from Nashville.

Not to slight Nawlins. I've been several times, and always love it. InCREDible food. Find what music you can, take in enough Quarter to get the vibe, but don't miss some cemetery tours and the Garden District. (I think the streetcar from Desire Street runs up there.)

Also a fine aquarium downtown, if any of your party is into it at all.

We did a bayou tour too, both on the water with gators and little villages and shacks.

So great stuff there too.


NOLA given the time restraints. If you had more than, Proteus’s recommendations regarding Memphis and side trips.


Proteus the travel agent!

Wow, I keep hearing bad stuff about Memphis (on other forums too). Makes me sad.

Having been to Nash twice, I feel like going again would be "more of the same" (still a good time)... especially since we are not "bro country" fans and would stick to our old favorites (Robert's, Layla's, Full Moon).... we never got out to 3rd and Lindsley or The Station Inn because we were walking (and drinking, which is why were were walking LOL). I'm afraid alot of the "new stuff" there is more in the bro country vain, which really irritates me LOL.

NOLA, even tho we've been, I feel would be "more different", because we did not hit Frenchman Street... that sounds like an awesome time! Actually sounds more like Nashville's Broadway than the French Quarter does.

I don't know....


I love older country, outlaw country, BLUES, and jazz. When we were in Nash the first 2 times, we hit Printer's Alley and BB's for good blues.

Wife not really a blues fan much. She can do jazz in small doses. However, she does appreciate GOOD music, whatever genre it is.


OH- and I would love to do the blues trail someday, but I don't think that's an option on this particular trip. We'd want to spend less time driving. I dig road trips, just would rather be laying back with a cold one listening to some blues or jazz rather than driving.


NOLA. I'm an SF native, but would live there except for 1) Summer, 2) hurricanes (the weather and the plastic drinks).

I second everything Opie said in his post. Forget the Canal Street end of Bourbon St. You may catch some good music there but it's disgusting unless strip clubs, drunk conventioners and vomit are your things. Frenchmen St. is where it's at. I'd recommend staying in Faubourg Marigny. It's quiet and a short walk to Frenchmen's.

The Canal St. end of Bourbon St. in The Quarter is very touristy and kinda gross, but most of the Quarter is quiet, residential and magical, especially at night. Frenchmen St. is actually just outside the Quarter in Marigny (Esplanade is the boundary), but you can walk from one end of the Quarter to the other in 20 minutes.

There's no East/West/North/South there; it's Uptown/Downtown (following the river direction) and Lakeside/Riverside.

I found the Jazz Museum to be underwhelming.

Food is great. Marigny Brasserie is right around the corner from Frenchmen St. with great food and live music.

Look for Steve Mignano; amazing roots-rock guitar player who is often at The Apple Barrel. Also Sierra Green and the Soul Machine -literally best cover band I've ever seen.

Because the cost of living there is relatively low, musicians can make a (crappy) living playing 7 days a week for tips. As a result, many of the bands play constantly so they are very tight.



I have to agree with Proteus on Memphis.

My very first impressions when we arrived were..... NOT good. "This place looks like a dump...." type thoughts. HOWEVER..... Once we got walking around and getting connected with it, it was a blast!! Dropping in on all the (free) musicians on Beale St. was wonderful -- I could have spent DAYS doing that.

All of Proteus' recommendations are right on. The DO NOT MISS places are Sun Records, Lorraine Motel, Stax Records and Graceland. Graceland is very touristy with almost an amusement park feel but very worth doing.

Our trip was evenly divided between Nashville and Memphis. Knowing what I know now, I would have allocated more time in Memphis. Both are great and I hope to spend more time in both. Nashville is more like LOOKING at things; Memphis is more like FEELING, EXPERIENCING things.


What time of year are you traveling?

Memphis has some nice sight-seeing, already mentioned.

Nashville is a very pleasant place to visit, all filled with music, albeit, mostly country.

New Orleans is a neat place to visit, but keep in mind, the Quarter smells horrible in the middle of the summer. Good grief it can smell terrible if you walk down the wrong corridor.

--I went once with a girlfriend for midnight mass at the St. Louis Cathedral in the Quarter. It was cold, but it was an experience. That night it was below freezing, probably around 2013 or 2014.



Won't go to either place in the heat/humidity of summer.

going in probably May or October.


Mid-to-late May could be too late for either. April should be good.

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