We headed to Memphis for a quick weekend to see James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt. We left Tampa on Friday and were back on Sunday. We booked my ticket with points this time. We were accumulating a large number of points and my husband wanted to book his own ticket so that he could keep his A-list status. He chose to book Business Select in an effort to maximize the impact on his status. His flight cost $404 each way for a total of $808. If you chose a Wanna Get Away fare it would be about half the cost. If you remember, usually when we travel, I book my ticket and my husband flies free. (see SouthWest Companion pass) My ticket was 12,496 points. We stayed at the Hampton Inn one block off Beale Street. You can see the FedEx arena where the concert was held from our balcony. It was a 3 block walk. The charge for our room was $280 per night before taxes and fees. After the taxes and fees the charge was $332. We have found that Hampton Inns in desirable locations can be a bit pricey. We like them however, because they offer a decent free breakfast and are consistently clean and comfortable.
As you can see from the picture, our room had a large balcony. We were on a corner so the balcony wrapped around. We could see (and hear) Beale Street and could see in the other direction as well. It was a narrow balcony and the wall was high so you would not be able to see much if you brought a chair out. We did enjoy standing there and hearing music from the venues and getting some fresh air. We did not have trouble with street noise other than one unexpected occurrence. On our first night there, I woke to a beeping sound. It sounded like the neighbors alarm was going off. I woke my husband and he said that is was the fire alarm. We headed out and down the stair. To be fair, the alarm was VERY LOUD in the hallway, just not in our room. We did make the staff aware of the issue when we checked out. When we got out to the street we found that someone had missed the turn into the courtyard entrance and had “parked” in the conference room. The staff was efficient and helpful in both getting us out and back into our rooms. In addition, when we checked out, we found that they had removed the cost of that night entirely. It was over a $300 savings for about 30 minutes of inconvenience. Both my husband and I thought that was above and beyond.
Our flight into Memphis had been delayed by weather so we missed our dinner reservations. We ended up at the Blues City Cafe on Beale Street. We had been to Memphis before and my husband LOVES the tamales. In addition to the tamales (3 for $6) we had fried shrimp plates that rivaled any I have ever eaten. For $9.95 we had shrimp, coleslaw and fries. The shrimp were sweet and the batter was light and crispy. From there we wandered down Beale Street and ended up listening to some great music at the Rum Boogie Cafe. We enjoyed it so much that we went back the next night after the concert.
The next morning we opted not to have the free breakfast. The space was pretty crowded and we were eager to get out and walk around. About 2 blocks from our hotel on Beale Street we found Miss Polly’s Soul City Cafe. For around $7 each we had more delicious breakfast food than we could eat. We liked it so much, we went back the next day. Seems like repeat visits to favorites was a theme for this trip.
The concert was held at the Fed Ex Forum. We had great seats up on the side of the stage. I was really glad because some of those seats were up so high I think I could have caught my flight home from there. The Forum had plenty of stands for drinks and surprisingly nice food stands as well. Many of the local restaurants were showcased. Bonnie Raitt opened the show and then came out and sang with James Taylor at the end. I was thrilled when she sang “Angel from Montgomery” one of my all time favorites. James Taylor’s set had an abundance of his hits as well. Sometimes when you see older acts they are so busy playing their new music, you really miss your favorites. That was not the case with either artist. James Taylor was his usual witty self and even told a story about auditioning in front of the Beatles. He played “Something in the Way She Moves” and as he put it George Harrison was so impressed he wrote the Beatles song “Something.” Rather that feeling cheated, Taylor went on to say how that moment helped propel his career on a trajectory higher that he had ever imagined. The positive tone of those remarks were reflected in the entire night and we left having thoroughly enjoyed our evening.