This trip is four days in length with the option of adding an extra night in Muscle Shoals or a couple of nights in Nashville. Prices vary, talk with us about when and how, we’ll get you a quick price quote.
Day 1 – Arrive Memphis – This tour begins with arrival in Memphis where you discover the world of making records. You learn about Rock n’ Roll, The Blues and more. This is not sightseeing. This is listening and learning – this is the ultimate Audio Tour!
Tonight’s feature is dinner and Live Music at B.B. Kings on Beale Street. This dinner club presents some of the best Live music in the south. Relax an enjoy yourself in a club built by “The King of the Blues.” (D)
Day 2 – Memphis – MoJo Tour & Sun Studios – Memphis comes alive today starting with the MoJo Tour. A professional Beale Street musician/tour guide will sing of the city’s music history, entertaining you with tunes and behind-the-scenes stories of Memphis celebrities. Along the way, you will see the City’s famous sights including The Lorraine Motel and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, plus you have photo stops at Graceland and the Johnny Cash home.
During this tour you will also visit Sun Studios – The Birthplace of Rock N’ Roll (1950) and home to the ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ – Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Did you know Studio owner Sam Phillips, a music legend in his own right, discovered BB King and recorded Howlin’ Wolf while working for another label?
And, did you know that Sun Studios is still rockin’ today? You never know who may walk in that door as you’re walking out.
After lunch you visit Stax Records (1959). They launched the careers of Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett, Booker T & the MG’s and dozens of others whose influence remains vital to R & B today. This museum preserves the legacy of American soul music with records, video and memorabilia.
Next, we tie the Memphis Scene all together at the Rock n’ Soul Museum; come hear the story of the greats who for the love of music, overcame racial and socio-economic barriers to create sounds that shook the world. Created by the Smithsonian Institution, Rock n‘Soul explains how Memphis is both “The Home of the Blues” and “The Birthplace of Rock ‘ Roll” – you will leave with the idea that this town was one exciting place in the 1950’s!
After this music history lesson you relax with a nice southern meal at the Blues City Café, listen to more music, and if you wish explore the other clubs on Beale Street. (B,D)
Day 3 – Arrive Muscle Shoals – Fame Records & The Swampers – Leaving Memphis where that great music started in the 50’s you travel to Alabama to learn about the Muscle Shoals Sound, and how this unlikely small town gave birth to much of that creative and defiant music of the 1960’s.
We think Muscle Shoals is the best kept secret in American Music. They have recorded #1 Hits in almost every genre. This afternoon on tour you hear about the legends, the superstars of R & B, Pop, Soul, Rock, and Country – they all recorded here.
Your first stop is the place it began – Fame Studios. Here in 1961 Rick Hall brought black and white together in Alabama’s cauldron of racial hostility to create the “Muscle Shoals Sound.” He produced hit records for Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Otis Redding, the Osmonds, Jerry Reed, Alabama, Mac Davis, the Gatlin Brothers and Bono.
That list also includes: Tina Turner, Percy Sledge, the Beatles, Jet, Elton John, Sara Evans, Ronnie Milsap, BB King, Tim McGraw, the Dixie Chicks, Earl Thomas Conley, Leann Rimes, Huey Lewis, and Travis Tritt, and dozens of others. They all came looking for that ‘Muscle Shoals Sound.’
Important to this story is the word “Swampers.” It’s an affectionate nickname for the house band that played background for these superstars. Originally known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, these four small town musicians played with everyone in the 60’s. We believe it was Aretha who said, “if people knew the band behind this record was four white boys they would never believe it.”
This evening we bring you another great night of live music and southern food. At a restaurant known as Swampers your meal is accompanied by Muscle Shoal musicians . . . and the special appearance of a “Swamper.” (B,D)
Day 4 – The Muscle Shoals Sound Studio – This morning’s highlight is the historic Muscle Shoals Sound Studio at 3614 Jackson Hwy. In 1969 the Swampers broke away from Fame Studios and opened this studio (note: Cher’s produced an album titled “3614 Jackson Hwy” here) Fame Studios survived without the Swampers and continued producing hit after hit; and The Swampers were also successful. They recorded Rod Stewart, Duane Allman, Boz Scaggs, Paul Simon, Lynard Skynard, Glenn Frey, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, Bob Seger, Art Garfunkel, Sawyer Brown and The Oak Ridge Boys.
It seems that everyone recorded in these two Studio’s. From 1961 thru today the World’s Greatest Musicians have been trying to capture that Muscle Shoals Sound.
The rest of this morning and half the afternoon is spent at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Here you will find exhibits to a pair of Local Legends, W.C. Handy and Sam Phillips. Plus other famed Alabama Musical Artists such as Nat “King” Cole, Hank Williams, and the group Alabama.
But, while here, your group will record together in a sound studio, your travelers will have a chance to harmonize and search for that special Muscle Shoals Sound, th sound that turns ‘Albums into Gold.’ You also have a Southern Barbecue lunch catered here and you participate in a Songwriter’s Session, where a musician performs his/her music and tells the stories behind the songs.
By mid-afternoon your group is on the road for home. Or if you wish to expand this itinerary we’ll put you in Muscle Shoals for another evening . . .
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OPTION – Nashville Add-on
Following the Songwriters Session you could make a two hour drive to Nashville where you begin the discovery of Country Music. Your dinner is at the Wildhorse Saloon famous for live entertainment and Line Dancing. This restaurant /nightclub is rooted deep in music traditions and again you never know who you will see here, performing or dining on any given night.
The adventurous in the group may wish to stay out late and enjoy neighborhood Honky Tonks. (B,D)
Day 5 – Nashville – Music City USA – Studio B – Troubadour Music Sightseeing is an “Only in Nashville” kind of experience and brings new meaning to the phrase “Entertaining Narrative” this is sightseeing with another singer/songwriter guide. It will include Downtown Nashville’s colorful history with drive-bys of the historic Ryman Auditorium, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Honky Tonk Row, Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop and The Bluebird Cafe. Plus, you will hear what it’s like trying to break into Nashville’s music scene, both the struggles and the victories. As an added bonus your Troubadour will perform some of his or her original songs!
The afternoon begins on Nashville’s famed Music Row at the Historic RCA Studio B. Here, you gets another up-close look at a famous studio. Music legends Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley; and more recently Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, and Marty Stuart recorded here. Inside the studio, you actually interact with a professional sound engineer in another recording session.
Then it’s off to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the keeper of priceless Country Music Treasures. Your self-guided tour is a walk through history, one that leads you from the earliest folk traditions to the music that thrills millions of fans today. Every tour ends in the Hall of Fame Rotunda, the never-ending circle, and storied home of the inductees.
For dinner you’ll find that the most famous show in country music is now making its mark on Southern cuisine, in a new Nashville restaurant as uniquely entertaining as the Grand Ole Opry itself. Your dinner this evening is at the Backstage Grill, where country cooking and music define the menu.
Then ending the day you enjoy the Grand Ole Opry where the brightest stars are within reach. Unforgettable moments happen at the Opry every week… Moments like the night Opry legend Little Jimmy Dickens scaled a kitchen ladder to invite Trace Adkins to become an Opry member. Or the night Carrie Underwood brought down the house with her rendition of the Tammy Wynette classic, “Stand By Your Man”, or the evening Vince Gill invited jazz vocalist Diana Krall to the stage for an impromptu duet. What might happen during your show? (B,D)
Day 6 – Departure – This morning your tour ends and you depart for home.
If you want even more music added to your package please take a look at our 9 Day tour, titled American Recording Studios.