Friday, August 29, 2014

"Hurricane Katrina, Sun Studios, And The German Elvis Fans!"

"Let's Git Reel Go-an!"
Today is the ninth year anniversary of the visit from "Lady Katrina." There will be tons of memorials and pictures of the incredible devastation and confusion her visit to my hometown created. If you are a native, you were affected in some way. My mom's rebuilt home in the Gentilly area was destroyed not by the hurricane, but by the flood that came a day later. I could expatiate further on those sad coincidences.

Living sixty miles north in a town called Folsom, we were also touched by this lady. We lost over sixty two trees of various sizes and shapes and had to have my roof completely replaced. But given what others went through, for weeks on end, we did alright.

Katrina was a very big storm and she covered a wide swath of devastation. Having said all that, once our neighbors helped cut eleven sixty and eighty foot pines into smaller pieces on Tuesday, the day after the storm, my mom, son, wife and I split for anywhere where an air conditioner was working. We drove north up I-55, stopping only for gas, if we could find a station that could sell us some. Brookhaven, McComb, Jackson were all picking up the pieces. We didn't find electricity until we hit Southaven, MS, which is just across the river from Memphis.

When we arrived at a Hampton Inn, we found many displaced New Orleanians, seated and watching on CNN, horrified at what was occuring in our hometown. It was the first time I ever used Google maps/ earth to actually find my mother's house... eight feet under water.

But, New Orleanians, being a hardy and party bunch, it didn't take much time to realize life goes on within you or without you. We decided to embrace all that Memphis had to offer, and Memphis went out of their way to make every "refugee" feel welcomed. With discounted prices, if you could prove you were displaced, we enjoy strolling Beale Street, eating soul food, and fried chicken dinners, visiting Elvis's "Graceland" and finally, my favorite, Sun Studios.

I never was an Elvis fan in the way that many fans were. But, reading the book, "Mystery Train" made me want to visit what many consider the birth of rock 'n roll, Sun Studios. I won't go into the history of Sam Phillips and his foursome of seminal talent, Elvis, Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash... amongst others. You can look it all up at: , or read the book.

I will say, the place had a dusty, eerie feeling of past ghosts with memorabilia, stories and really basic recording equipment. The high point of the very low key tour was the studio where rock'n roll history was made. It was pretty sparse, but if you've ever heard the RCA re-release of the album, "Sun Sessions" you'd know that besides Elvis "reel go-an" voice there was only one lead guitar (Scotty Moore ), one standup bass ( Bill Black ), and Elvis rhythm guitar. There was no piano, no drums, no other instruments there... just an old fashion metal microphone that some German and British tourists had to embrace and sing a line or two from Elvis's early homespun catalogue. They sang into the mike rather timidly, and with very little hip shaking,  but with much awe and respect for this unique opportunity to be so close to the beginning of rock 'n roll... me too!

"That's all right mama, that's all right for you, That's all right, mama, anyway you do...

"That's all right!"

Copyright 2014/Ben Bensen III

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