Where would Rock be without Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll? Elvis transformed music and Memphis is transformed each August as we remember the King. You don’t have to be an Elvis fan to enjoy this week long party but it doesn’t hurt. The celebration includes, music, Elvis “Tribute Artists” (ETA’s), Elvis look-a-likes, movies, car shows, concerts, food, venders or Elvis memorabilia, drink and more. It is hard to fathom what a tremendous force Elvis was in the entertainment realm until you stand at the base of a 100 yard hall that is lined with gold and platinum albums. Elvis was not just a singer but an actor also starring in 31 feature films as an actor and two theatrically released concert documentary films, all of which enjoyed financial success. Did you know that Elvis was asked to be the co-star with Barbara Streisand in the Star is Born; when he turned the roll down Kris Kristofferson stepped in.
How to get the most out of Elvis Week :
• Book Early / Stay Early – if going to the candle vigil (occurs every August 15th in front of Graceland) is not on your bucket list book your room from Aug. 8th – Sunday 11th.
• Rent a car or drive. There is adequate parking at most venues and public transportation is not easy to navigate.
Try this early Elvis Week Schedule:
It’s Friday you checked into your hotel last night and it’s time to visit the home of the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley. The home, Graceland, is located in an area called “Whitehaven” and was home to Elvis and his family. The tour will take about 3 ½ hours if you purchase the platinum package which is $36 per person. The package also allows you to tour the jets Elvis owned, my favorite is the Lisa Marie, named for his daughter. I can’t help but chuckle every time I think of the king sized bed and the seatbelt that goes across it, ok maybe I’m odd.
Next stop The Beauty Shop! It is not time for a trim but time for lunch. The Beauty Shop Restaurant is located in a hip area of town called Midtown. It is located in a former hair salon where Priscilla had her hair done. The address is 966 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104.
A short drive from the Beauty Shop is The Rock and Soul Museum Located at 191 Beale St. & Hwy 61 at FedExForum [map], I suggest Parking at the garage attached to the Weston Hotel. When you walk out of the garage take a left and you will see the sign. Once you have soaked up all the Rock and Soul history move on over to Beale St first stop B.B. King’s. I think that BB’s has the best ribs and the best entertainment on Beale. Make sure you request a table near the rail so you can see the person singing. Order the ribs, a beer and kick back and enjoy. When you leave BB’s if you turn to the right and walk down Beale you will find Rum Boogie and Silky O’Sullivan’s Pub both fun bars although Silky’s is better suited for warmer weather. If you take a right after Silky’s you will be in front of the FedEx Forum and a Starbucks if you need a cup before getting back on the road.
To end the day a late night concert in Dad’s Place located in the Clarion Hotel Airport / Graceland located at 1471 E. Brooks Rd. Dad’s a local legendary bar that has a glassed in Elvis booth and a stage the has featured, Jonny Cash, Jerry Lee and other legends of the 60’s and 70’s. The show starts at 11pm with 4 to 5 ETA’s for only a $20 cover. I suggest trying the All Shook Up Banana, or the Moody Blue specialty drinks.
This day is more about Memphis with a little Elvis thrown in for good measure. You’re heading back downtown (about a 10 min. drive). Next stop is the South Main Arts District for a little shopping. Check out the galleries and shops along South Main and G.E. Patterson. Hoot+Louise carries adorable vintage clothing and accessories; Charlotte sells unique, interchangeable jewelry, and Sache hand makes their super soft t-shirts in their shop. Take a break with a cup of coffee at Bluff City Coffee and enjoy it on the big hill next to the National Civil Rights Museum.
Next stop National Civil Rights Museum which is in the Lorraine Motel, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This tour is only about $10 and is a must see. After all this walking and shopping I’m thinking lunch. Since you are already close to downtown I recommend grabbing a sandwich at the Kooky Canuck, located next to the Peabody Hotel. This fun restaurant is home to the “Kookamonga Burger” – 4lbs of fresh ground-chuck, two pounds of custom made hamburger bun, and one and a half pounds of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and cheese…SEVEN AND A HALF POUNDS TOTAL…but the fries are optional. If you watch the Food Network you may have seen it. If you’re not into competition eating their smaller sandwiches are good.
At 4:15 it is time to head to the Peabody Hotel. This grand hotel has a large ornate lobby. Spend time checking out all the curio cabinets located around the lobby and the Duck Master’s Painting there is a plaque that will explain what a Duck Master is. You will need to get a table near the granite fountain in the middle of the lobby the prime table is the one closest to the elevator and the center isle that leads to the fountain. Order your favorite beverage and kick back and wait for the show. The Duck show start daily at 5pm.
Grab your car and we are headed back to the airport area for dinner. Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken and yes you do have to have the fried chicken. Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Lou loves Guy and you will see his picture everywhere. It is located in a small shopping center, it is well lit, and it is a dive with great food. Make sure you try the “Sweet Spicy Love” Sauce. The address is 3336 Millbranch Rd., Memphis, TN 38116.
Now that you’re full, head back to the Clarion Hotel for the Chris Connor concert in the main ball room. Like most concerts you can pick up a beer inside or stop by Dad’s and get something to take with you.
There is a great tour departing at 2:30 from Backbeat Tours window at Blues City Café, located at 140 Beale Street. Join Backbeat Tours for an Elvis tribute tour with a twist! As unique as the man himself, the Hound Dog Tour takes a one-of-a-kind approach to sharing Elvis’ legacy in a high-energy concert and sightseeing tour all rolled into one. Hear all your favorite Elvis hits performed live on Memphis’ only music bus while seeing where he grew up, where he went to school, where he worked, and where he dreamed, as well as sites important to his early career. This special 90-minute tour also includes an optional visit inside the Presley family apartment at Lauderdale Courts – second only to Graceland, the Memphis home where Elvis lived in the longest. Meticulously restored to its 1950s appearance, a visit to Apartment 328 of the Courts is like taking a step back in time, offering an unparalleled glimpse into the lives of Vernon, Gladys, and young Elvis. (If you choose to visit Lauderdale Courts, the tour will last approximately 2.5 hours). The tour includes exciting sites such as Sun Studio, Elvis’ high school, the Overton Park Shell (the amphitheater where he performed his first big show in 1954), Lansky Bros. clothing store, the Memphian Theater and the Chisca Hotel (home of the WHBQ radio station). Sun Studio located at 106 Union Ave. If you love Rock & Roll you will love the Sun tour it’s not just about Elvis but about the birth of Rock. The tour will take about 30 to 45 minutes and cost $12. I loved the Million Dollar Quartet but made the mistake of buying the CD; don’t make the same mistake buy a shake instead. The Hound Dog Tour has become an Elvis Week tradition, with many passengers returning year after year. Come celebrate the man behind the legend: whether you’re a longtime fan or a new admirer, we guarantee fun for all! The price of the 90-minute tour is $28/adults, $26/seniors and $16/child (7-12 years). The price of the 2.5 hour tour that includes Lauderdale Courts is $47/adults, $45/seniors and $32/child (7-12 years). Elvis Insiders receive a 10% discount. Tickets may be purchased online at BackbeatTours.com, or by calling Zerve at 800-979-3370 or Backbeat Tours at 901-527-9415.
If you are an Elvis fan and staying longer checkout, MJ’s Elvis Rockin’ Oldies at the Clarion Hotel Memphis Airport / Graceland. MJ’s shows have become an Elvis week “must do”. MJ stated “I have over 40 ETA’s this year and the show will be great. We keep the costs down so everyone can enjoy these concerts. I do this to give people options to the un-air-conditioned tent at Graceland.”
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Elvis…the party really rocks starting Aug. 13 and a must see in the candle lite vigil which is held each year on Aug. 15. The night of the vigil the Clarion hostess a gospel night that really raises the roof.
MJ’s Rockin’ Oldies Schedule At the Clarion Hotel