5 Essential Experiences for Music Lovers In Memphis

Memphis’ music heritage, it’s vibrant current live music scene, and top notch music festivals that occur all year round, make it the perfect destination to immerse yourself in all things music for days on end. Music is the number one travel motivator for travel to Memphis, and the city has boundless options to explore Memphis through a musical lens. Here are 5 essential experiences for music lovers in Memphis.  

Visit a Historic Recording Studio

The Memphis music legacy is mighty, and Memphis has more iconic recording studios than most cities have studios at all. Sun Studio, and Stax Records were both crucial pieces in the formation of American popular music, and luckily you can still experience them today. Sun Studio offers a guided tour every hour on the bottom of the hour, and Stax Museum of American Soul Music offers a comprehensive, self guided tour. Pro tip: Sun Studio carries original 45’s and 78’s from the label–– and Stax Museum’s gift shop is heavily stocked with Stax & other soul LP reissues, plus other fun finds. Memphis is also home to several additional iconic recording studios that are still active like Ardent Studios, Sam Phillips Recording Service, and Royal Studio, of Hi Records fame.

Browse A Memphis Vinyl Record Store

For the first time since the mid 1980s, vinyl is outselling CDs in 2019. Music is emotional, and what better way to further connect with those sounds than to study the record cover art, flip the record, and enjoy the warmth of the sound of vinyl? Memphis record stores, Shangri-La, Goner Records, and Audiomadia Records, all have sections solely dedicated to Memphis music. You can finally pick up that original Otis Redding LP you’ve been looking for while on vacation in Memphis!

Dine at Catherine & Mary’s, and Tell Em’ Phillips Sent Ya!

The former Home of the Red, Hot, & Blue radio Show, James Beard nominated Chefs, Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman, opened Catherine & Mary’s to bring their signature elevated Southern-American and traditional Italian cuisine to Downtown Memphis. The name pays homage to the chef’s Grandmothers, but the location pays homage to Memphis music radio history. The now repurposed Hotel Chisca was home to WHBQ, where DJ Dewey Phillips hosted the Red, Hot, & Blue radio program. Phillips had more than 100,000 listeners nightly, and was the first DJ to play Black and White music together on a radio show in segregated Memphis. Phillips played Elvis Presley’s “That’s All Right”  for the first time on the radio July 5th, 1954 and it was such a hit that Phillips had to spin the record 17 times in a row! That evening, an eighteen year old Elvis came to The Hotel Chisca while the show was still on air to have his very first professional interview.

Stay at Central Station Hotel

The Central Station Amtrak station is a stop on the famous City of New Orleans train line and is connected to a hotel with a Memphis Sound theme. The Central Station Hotel lobby is home to over 3500 vinyl records, all with a Memphis connection. A DJ plays curated Memphis-themed playlists 7 nights a week, which can be heard in every room through EgglestonWorks speakers made especially for the occasion. Make sure to find the beautifully engineered listening room behind the hotel’s lobby bar, Eight & Sand, for a pristine audio experience.

See and Hear Live Music Everywhere

Walk with your feet 10 feet off of Beale Street at any of the historic street’s 20 plus clubs and restaurants. After you’ve explored Beale Street, you won’t have to wander far to find whatever live music experience you seek. Memphis is home to prime music venues, festivals, and listening rooms for every visitor.  Take this quiz to discover where you should see live music in Memphis.

Royal Studios / Raphael Tenschert
Shangrila Records / Raphael Tenschert
Catherine and Mary's / Cara Greenstein
Arrive Hotel / Holly Whitfield
Lord T and Eloise at Railgarten / Craig Thompson