Nice overview about the roots of soul / blues / rock music
Audio guide with a lot of music to listen to
A bit of abrupt finish of the exhibition
Memphis and the surrounding area is so full of music history – it is not that surprising that there are a lot of musical museums around as well. One of these is the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum in the heart of the city. Here is a review of the place I visited during my CMA Fest 2019 trip.
Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum – Location & Admission
The museum is located close to a couple of Memphis city center’s key attractions. Beale Street is just around the corner, the building is right adjacent to the FedEx Forum multiplex arena. There are multiple car parks and garages in the area in case you arrive by car.
Adult admission is 13 USD. However, there are multiple combined admission tickets which give a certain saving. For example, I visited the Memphis Music Hall of Fame right before the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.
Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum – The Exhibition
In addition to just walking through the exhibition, you receive an audio guide with you admission. First of all, it gives additional information to several exhibits. Furthermore, along the route, there are juke boxes, which are not working any more, but having a list of songs of that era on top, which you may listen to on the audio guide. A very sensible add-on to your visit.
The exhibition is sorted chronologically, starting with the very beginnings of Blues music, which was the typical sound of the workers in the plantations. It is always stunning to see, what an essential part of culture the music was.The museum continues with some very interesting exhibitions like the initial transmitter of the Grand Old Opry radio channel. The exhibition also topics the separation of people by skin color in the mid of the 20th century.
Radio Stations and Record Studios
The growing number and variety of radio stations had a significant impact in the development of the music. The museum features a couple of pioneers, from moderators / DJs to certain stations like one dealing with Women music only.
Of course, the two large studios, Memphis Recording Services / Sun Records and Stax, just cannot be missed on a museum like this. The exhibition shows different characters of the Memphis music history. In this part of the exhibition, the audio guide becomes mandatory in your visit if you do not want to miss all the details.
The Elvis Era
Somehow, there is no Memphis museum without Elvis. The Rock’n’Soul Museum, of course, also has a section dedicated to The King. Quite surprisingly for a musical museum, the exhibition also features Elvis as an actor.
Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum – My View
I feel there is a lot of positives at the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum in Memphis. First of all, it is a good and well-presented exhibition with some very nice items. The audio guide is used very wisely – I especially love the jukebox idea. This also allows you to adjust you visit to the time you got – you may do the museum in 45 minutes and get a good overview and its key messages – or you go for a deep dive of several hours and will have a great and relaxing time.
On the negative side, I felt that the exhibition is covering too early. Did the Rock and Soul really die with Elvis? I don’t believe so. It stays a good visit, but is definitely also not a great one.
These are all articles, in which I dealt with events and places influencing musical history: