21979
Tennessee/Louisiana

Music Cities USA: Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans

From the historic Grand Ole Opry in Nashville to legendary Beale Street in Memphis and the iconic jazz of New Orleans, join us for a learning adventure that will be music to your ears.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21979RJ
Length
10 days
Starts at
3,249

At a Glance

To experience the true pulse of American music, you have to find its source in the heart of the South. Go on the road in Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans to discover the roots of jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, country, the blues and much more! In Nashville, music comes to life at Studio B — formerly Sun Records — the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. Tap your feet to the rhythms of Beale Street in Memphis, take a field trip to the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and pay homage to the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” at Graceland. Complete your musical pilgrimage in New Orleans, where live jazz performances and contemporary Creole sounds bear witness to America’s musical foundation.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to two miles daily, some uneven terrain. Standing for museum lectures. Stairs in historical homes/no elevator.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Thrill in a live performance at the Grand Ole Opry from your seats in the Gold Circle section of the music hall.
  • Visit B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street for a southern smorgasbord of Memphis-style BBQ ribs, pulled pork and more and a modern blues performance by the house band.
  • At the world-famous New Orleans School of Cooking, learn how to cook Creole and Cajun as a local chef demonstrates a traditional dish — then lunch on the creation.

General Notes

For a 6-night version of this program, check out "Music Cities USA: Nashville to Memphis" (#21154).
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Jimmy Grubbs
Jimmy Grubbs is publisher of The Best Times, a Memphis news magazine for age 50-plus adults. Until 2004, he spent 36 years as a manager and owner of Dale Carnegie franchises. Jimmy initially came to Memphis from Jacksonville, Fla., in 1985. He notes, “I’m not from Memphis originally, but I got here as soon as I could.”

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Ron Harman
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Peggy Benton
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Andi Jones
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Jimmy Grubbs
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Memphis Beat : The Lives and Times of America's Musical Crossroads
by Larry Nager
This book fills in what isn't so familiar: Memphis, it reveals, is our great cultural mixing board, where all the black and white folk have met and done musical business for two centuries or more. Larry Nager, former music editor of the "Memphis Commercial Appeal," offers more than a casual history. His chronicle reaches back into the nineteenth century, when Memphis was a wild frontier town full of whiskey, fiddle players, and minstrelsy. It hits cruising speed at the turn of the century, as W. C. Handy discovered the blues, women like Lil Armstrong and Memphis Minnie kept up with the men, and a Memphis deejay dreamed up the Grand Ole Opry. It chronicles the strange alchemy by which local rhythm 'n' blues, hard country, and black and white gospel got remade into powerful rock and roll in Sam Phillips's Sun Records studio on Union Avenue. The beat goes on into the '60s and the era of Stax and Hi Records - when the first integrated generations, raised on Sun 45s, started waxing their own sounds. And it follows Memphis even into contemporary times, through Big Star's adventures at Ardent Records, the difficult revival of Beale Street, and the birth of the House of Blues. There is triumph and tragedy here, and much in between - from the stalwart presence of lifelong musicians like Gus Cannon and Furry Lewis, through the horrific accident that killed Otis Redding, the Bar-Kays, and years and years of musical dreams.
Why New Orleans Matters
by Tom Piazza
In the aftermath of Katrina and the disaster that followed, promises were made, forgotten, and renewed. Now what will become of New Orleans in the years ahead? What do this proud, battered city and its people mean to America and the world? Award-winning author and longtime New Orleans resident Tom Piazza illuminates the storied culture and uncertain future of this great and neglected American metropolis by evoking the sensuous rapture of the city that gave us jazz music and Creole cooking; examining its deep undercurrents of corruption, racism, and injustice; and explaining how its people endure and transcend those conditions. And, perhaps most important, he asks us all to consider the spirit of this place and all the things it has shared with the world: its grace and beauty, resilience and soul.
A Streetcar Named Desire
by Tennessee Williams
Widely considered a landmark play, A Streetcar named Desire deals with a culture clash between two characters, Blanche DuBois, a relic of the Old South, and Stanley Kowalski, a rising member of the industrial, urban working class. American playwright Tennessee Williams received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948.
The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square
by Ned Sublette
The World That Made New Orleans offers a new perspective on this insufficiently understood city by telling the remarkable story of New Orleans’s first century--a tale of imperial war, religious conflict, the search for treasure, the spread of slavery, the Cuban connection, the cruel aristocracy of sugar, and the very different revolutions that created the United States and Haiti. It demonstrates that New Orleans already had its own distinct personality at the time of Louisiana’s statehood in 1812. By then, important roots of American music were firmly planted in its urban swamp--especially in the dances at Congo Square, where enslaved Africans and African Americans appeared en masse on Sundays to, as an 1819 visitor to the city put it, “rock the city.”
Creole New Orleans Race and Americanization
by Arthur Hirsch and John Logsdon
This collection of six original essays explores the peculiar ethnic composition and history of New Orleans, which the authors persuasively argue is unique among American cities. The focus of Creole New Orleans is on the development of a colonial Franco-African culture in the city, the ways that culture was influenced by the arrival of later immigrants, and the processes that led to the eventual dominance of the Anglo-American community.
Battling the Plantation Mentality: Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle (The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture)
by Laurie B. Green
African American freedom is often defined in terms of emancipation and civil rights legislation, but it did not arrive with the stroke of a pen or the rap of a gavel.No single event makes this more plain, Laurie Green argues, than the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers' strike, which culminated in the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Exploring the notion of "freedom" in postwar Memphis, Green demonstrates that the civil rights movement was battling an ongoing "plantation mentality" based on race, gender, and power that permeated southern culture long before--and even after--the groundbreaking legislation of the mid-1960s. With its slogan "I AM a Man!" the Memphis strike provides a clarion example of how the movement fought for a black freedom that consisted of not only constitutional rights but also social and human rights. As the sharecropping system crumbled and migrants streamed to the cities during and after World War II, the struggle for black freedom touched all aspects of daily life. Green traces the movement to new locations, from protests against police brutality and racist movie censorship policies to innovations in mass culture, such as black-oriented radio stations. Incorporating scores of oral histories, Green demonstrates that the interplay of politics, culture, and consciousness is critical to truly understanding freedom and the black struggle for it.
Nashville Songwriter: The Inside Stories Behind Country Music’s Greatest Hits
by Jake Brown
Nashville Songwriter gives readers the first completely authorized collection of the true stories that inspired hits by the biggest multi-platinum country superstars of the last half century—recounted by the songwriters themselves. Award-winning music biographer Jake Brown gives readers an unprecedented, intimate glimpse inside the world of country music songwriting. Featuring exclusive commentary from country superstars and chapter-length interviews with today’s biggest hit-writers on Music Row.
Rising Tide
by John Barry
An American epic of science, politics, race, honor, high society, and the Mississippi River, Rising Tide tells the riveting and nearly forgotten story of the greatest natural disaster this country has ever known -- the Mississippi flood of 1927. The river inundated the homes of nearly one million people, helped elect Huey Long governor and made Herbert Hoover president, drove hundreds of thousands of blacks north, and transformed American society and politics forever.
Life On The Mississippi
by Mark Twain
An invaluable companion to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi is Mark Twain's inimitable portrait of 'the great Father of Waters'. Part memoir, part travelogue, it expresses the full range of Twain's literary personality, and remains the most vivid, boisterous and provocative account of the cultural and societal history of the Mississippi Valley, from 'the golden age' of steamboating to the violence wrought by the Civil War.
Confederacy of Dunces
by John Kennedy Toole
A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel written by American novelist John Kennedy Toole, published by Louisiana State University Press in 1980, eleven years after the author's suicide. The book, published through the efforts of writer Walker Percy (who also contributed a revealing foreword) and Toole's mother Thelma Toole, quickly became a cult classic, and later a mainstream success. Toole posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. It is now considered a canonical work of modern Southern literature, in the USA. The title derives from the epigraph by Jonathan Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." The story is set in New Orleans in the early 1960s. The central character is Ignatius J. Reilly, an educated but slothful 30-year-old man still living with his mother in the city's Uptown neighborhood, who, due to an incident early in the book, must set out to get a job. In his quest for employment he has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters.
Hidden History of Memphis (Tennessee) (Hidden Histories)
by G. Wayne Dowdy
Step inside the fascinating annals of the Bluff City's history and discover the Memphis that only few know. G. Wayne Dowdy, longtime archivist for the Memphis Public Library, examines the history and culture of the Mid-South during its most important decades. Well-known faces like Clarence Saunders, Elvis Presley and W.C. Handy are joined by some of the more obscure characters from the past, like the Memphis gangster who inspired one of William Faulkner's most famous novels, the local Boy Scout who captured German spies during World War I, the Memphis radio station that pioneered wireless broadcasting and so many more. Also included are the previously unpublished private papers and correspondence of former mayor E.H. Crump, giving us new insight and a front-row seat to the machine that shaped Tennessee politics in the twentieth century.
All the Kings Men
by Robert Penn Warren
All the King's Men traces the rise and fall of demagogue Willie Stark, a fictional character loosely based on Governor Huey ""Kingfish"" Long of Louisiana. Stark begins his political career as an idealistic man of the people but soon becomes corrupted by success and caught between dreams of service and an insatiable lust for power.
A Guide to Historic Nashville, Tennessee [Paperback]
by James A. Hoobler
Written by accomplished historian James Hoobler, senior curator of art and architecture at the Tennessee State Museum and former executive director of the Tennessee Historical Society, this book offers extraordinary insight into Nashville's heritage. Carefully researched and exceptionally written, it is a wonderful companion, both for visitors and for Nashville residents who want to see their hometown in a new light.





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