Midtown Memphis

“What to Do in Memphis” according to the New York Times

The New York Times published a travel article via their 36 Hours series, “What to Do in Memphis,”  by Colleen Creamer that highlights some of the favorite hot-spots around town. And locals would agree with their picks.

It features culinary favorites like the Beauty Shop, the Bar-B-Q Shop, and the only antidote to the Delta-summer heat: Jerry’s Sno Cones. There are also landmarks and attractions like Overton Park, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the quirkiest illuminated dance club: Paula & Raiford’s Disco. (Or as my friend Jasmine dubbed it, “Rai-Rai’s.”)

The article and its accompanying video squeeze in a convincing reel of content that portrays Memphis as a desirable and soulful destination. (Which of course is delightfully flattering to us Memphians.)

Yet, Paula Raiford summed it up best when people asked her about opening up another club elsewhere: “I’m not gonna move the experience. The experience is in Memphis, Tennessee.”

Amen, Paula. Amen.

The New York Times' "What to Do in Memphis"

Take 5: Candice Briggie

Meet a hula-hoopin’ hippe-at-heart who enjoys fresh air, capturing candids, and serving up an exquisite French 75.

Candice Briggie Nocturnal Hooping

Nocturnal hooping is all the rave.

Stage name: Candice Briggie

Starring roles: Server at Restaurant Iris; Daily Helmsman photog and student at the University of Memphis

Favorite Iris drink? “I love making a French 75. It’s refreshing, and it’s topped with champagne so it’s bubbly and fun.”

Capturing the Scenes: “My ideal setting is outdoors. The first rule is to find your light and always keep your eyes open. Take as many shots as you can, and be prepared.” Candice photographs weekly for reporters at the Helmsman and uses a Canon 7D SLR.

More tips? “Refrain from chimping. That’s where you take a photo and immediately look at the camera rather than keep shooting.”

Impression of Memphis? “I loved it right off the bat! It’s been almost 10 years now after moving from Lafayette, Tenn. They’re a lot of transplants in Memphis, and I’ve made the best friends of my entire life. How did we all end up here? I love it.”

Next gig? “I’m going to the Grand Canyon this summer. I want to go to the bottom and climb back up, maybe find a campground.”

Out West?! “The scenery just blows your mind. It gives you a sense of a different time of the earth. Seeing those mountains is amazing.”

Why hooping? “I feel free and sexy.”

5 Juke Joints where Memphians Jive

What’s a juke joint?

Some say it’s a law-breaking, rag-tag shack that can only be found by word of mouth. Yet, my expectation for any jukin’ hotspot is ironically lower.

It’s typically a grungy, after-hours place where music is a feature, the inebriated sporadically dance, and barflies just watch.

Memphis has been blessed with dozens of them. To begin, here are five places to impress your out-of-town guests if they’re seeking the scrappier side of the Bluff City.

5. The Buccaneer Lounge consistently delivers by showcasing solid musicians, must-see Tigers and Grizzlies games, and piratey decor. Permanently docked on Monroe near the shores of Midtown.

4. Wild Bill’s welcomes everyone…if you’re willing to boogie. Bill’s bands are rooted in soul and funk. Just past North Parkway on Vollintine.

3. The Blue Monkey: It’s okay if you’re already seeing double because there are two monkeys in Memphis: Midtown & Downtown. Bands, billiards, and local beer always flow on Saturday nights.

2. Kudzu’s Bar & Grill: You’ll feel like Robert Johnson when you step inside this bluesy hideaway in the Edge district. The patio-like atmosphere recreates what Clarksdale offers, yet Kudzu’s is conveniently closer.

1. Earnestine & Hazel’s, downtown on South Main, is best described in bullets:

  • Brothel (formerly)
  • Soul burgers
  • JukeSoul-box
  • Nate the Bartender
  • Spirits (shaken, stirred, and ressurected)

Memphis is full of authentic dive bars and this only scratches the surface. If you have a favorite for us to try, please comment below or via #MEMJukeJoints.

Mixin’, Minglin’, and Movin’ the Needle

ASPIRE is the new network on the block for young professionals, and it’s warming up more than its own house. It’s fighting poverty, pushing service, and connecting faith-minded millennials across town.

That’s a lot for a Thursday night, but it didn’t deter the 60-plus who attended the kickoff for ASPIRE: Catholic Charities of West Tennessee‘s initiative for young adults. The first meeting was held at Overton Square‘s Local Gastropub and featured Chris Wallace, general manager for the Memphis Grizzlies and board member of CCWTN, as the guest speaker.

Mike Allen, president and CEO of CCWTN, founded ASPIRE for recent college grads and other young people who yearn to connect and serve others. “Feel the energy in here. Some people know each other, but a lot don’t; hopefully, tentacles will spread,” he said.

John Austin Tubbs, a student at Christian Brothers University and ASPIRE steering committee member, said that he got involved “because of the networking and that it’s uniquely based in volunteering.”

Allen personally informed Tubbs and other key influencers about ASPIRE because he considers it “a breeding ground for future board members and volunteers.” While Allen’s goal is to support Catholic Charities, it’s not the only resolution. He’s also focused on the overall potential impact to the city. “If they wind up on another board, then that’s also a win,” Allen said.

The events, which are promoted through Facebook and Twitter, are open to all and involve a service component such as bringing food or clothing items for a pantry or shelter. Social media is how Alison Powers, a design engineer with ThyssenKrupp, learned about the program. “I belong here; these are people that I get energy from,” she said.

After graduating from Stanford, Powers moved to Memphis for her career and has since been involved with her church and anti-poverty issues as a board member for the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality. “The sense of community is something unique to Memphis, and I love that,” she added.

Upcoming (and cleverly titled) events include May’s “Cosmos & Claret in a Convent” with Amy Weirich and September’s “Burgers with Bishop Terry” in Bishop Steib‘s backyard.

[The CA also published an article about ASPIRE (which is how I found out).]

Take 5: Hayley Isaac

Hayley Isaac

Hayley goes for gold everyday. 

Meet a half-Venezuelan, Midtown chick who binges on the Olympics and works full time sending snail mail.

Stage Name: Hayley Isaac

Friends call her: Smart and silly

Starring Roles: Sr. Specialist for ALSAC/St. Jude; formerly the Associate Director for the CBU MBA program

Daily script: Developing the strategy behind one-time mail donations for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Like free labels? Give her a call.

Good gig? “I know what and who I come to work for everyday: the kids.”

Behind the Scenes at St. Jude: “All I can think about is the number of children that will be saved because of the new proton beam. It’s overwhelming.”

Hometown Reminder: “Proud Mary”

To improve Memphis, Hayley would focus on transportation. “We need something that better connects the burbs to the city.”

If at the Olympics…“I’d be cheering for Lolo Jones,” (the track star turned bob sledder). “She’s made a huge jump!”

Favorites to Follow? @MakeMemphis, @AmuricaPhoto, and @SochiProblems