Denver Go to Memphis


I waited three years to see Memphis, The Musical. I dreamed of seeing it on Broadway but before I could travel to NYC from Florida, I moved back to Denver.  Then I dreamed of being in Memphis, Tennessee, for the namesake’s opening night.  I vowed to myself. I wouldn’t miss it if it came to Denver. Last week was my opportunity and I didn’t miss it.  I was like the young boy I was shoulder to shoulder with at the pre-show merchandise counter.  We were two star-struck teens, we shopped, fidgeted, handled all novelty items, magnets, CD’s, key chains and lip-synched the songs. I quickly made my decision, a pink, girl-cut T-shirt with the orange guitar running up the side with the words: Memphis Lives in Me.

I grew up west of Memphis in Little Rock, Arkansas. My favorite radio station was KOKE,  with the tag line, The Black Spot on Your Radio Dial. Those late night shows were the beginning of my love affair with blues, hip-shakin’ rock’n roll, jive, jump blues from the likes of Sam Cooke, Etta James, Big Mamma Thornton, Little Richard, Gatemouth Brown, Muddy Waters, BB King and Ben E. King, Bobby Blue Bland and one of my all time favs Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry.  The impact on my life from their music and my Southern heritage is a badge I’m proud to wear.

Memphis, The Musical is about that era in our musical history when white adolescents discovered and loved black music. If  the 45 rpm “A White Sports Coat with a Pink Carnation,” by Marty Robbins crossed over from country to pop, Little Richard’s  ‘Tutti Frutti’ the same year, 1957, hit the airwaves with another explosion. The hit parade songs from Perry and Frank didn’t resonate with white suburban kids anymore, they had heard rock ‘n roll.  One night, as the musical story goes, black & whites met on common ground at a colored juke joint in Memphis, Tennessee. Huey Calhoun, the white boy who became Memphis’s first cross-over DJ, was lured by the toe-tapping, soulful music seeping under the door. It changed Huey’s life, Memphis town, and rock ‘n roll forever.

I will not go on & on about how wonderful this show is and what it meant to me. I don’t have time to write my childhood story to include my Memphis Aunt Jamie Sue or Aunt Jack (who told Elvis’s father to kiss her ass when he left her waiting in the Graceland foyer for over an hour) on this little blog.  But here’re the facts, Memphis, The Musical, won four Tony Awards in 2010 for Best Musical, Best Original Score (David Bryan from Bon Jovi, and Joe DePietro), and Best Orchestrations (David Bryan and Daryl Waters). If you have a chance to see MTM you will be singing and longing, depending on where you’re from, for Memphis the Musical or hankering for the hometown flavors of Memphis, Blues & BBQ.

The show is beautifully orchestrated and choreographed with fabulous dancers, singers, brilliant stage & set design and music that fills the heart. Everyone leaves the show with the song title embedded in their soul:  Memphis Lives in Me.  click here for Little Richard singing “Tutti Frutti.”

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