My father told a story.
When he was a little boy, he and my grandfather were on some sort of mission out in the country and stopped at a little store on a gravel road.
As they entered, they passed an old man sitting on the steps, skin and bones in worn overalls and a tattered shirt. My grandfather nodded to him, and the old man smiled back.
It worked for the Broad Avenue Arts District; it worked for the Tennessee Brewery and for Crosstown Concourse. Now, another group of Memphians hope to activate a different dormant area of the city.
In the local tradition of pre-vitalization parties, five Downtown businesses will host an event to introduce the district they’re now calling “Virginia Ave.” on Saturday, July 29, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
According to Remember Media CEO Cori McCleskey, the purpose of the event is “for our entire Memphis community to celebrate the beginning of a new era (on Virginia Avenue).”
For those who want a little Christmas in July, a new pop-up bar Downtown is decking the halls.
The Lounge is now open in the upstairs of Ibis cocktail bar and restaurant, located at 314 S. Main St.
Open through Sunday, July 30, The Lounge features six holiday-themed cocktails as well as a festive atmosphere in which to enjoy them.
Memphis is famous for its rock, soul, blues, and civil rights history. And when it comes to food, barbecue is what most tend to think of. But while there’s no disputing the necessity of a visit to Central BBQ, A&R, or Elwood’s Shack, Memphis restaurants have so much more to offer. Nowadays, you can find Asian, Latin American, or Italian food just as easily as you can find smoked meat.
Whether originating in Brooklyn, Oakland, Atlanta, Houston, Memphis or elsewhere, much hip-hop music is built upon pride of place.
Geographic identity is key, as artists represent their cities (in 2009, Jay-Z released “Empire State of Mind,” a tribute to New York), their neighborhoods (N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton” arrived in 1988), and even their streets (“S.O.U.T.H. Parkway,” a Gangsta Blac track, debuted in 1999).
This week, inside Connect Music, a sprawling distribution-company headquarters and event space on Vance Avenue near Downtown, 28 Memphis young people, ages 10 to 16, reversed that historic connection. Hip-hop might be built on place, but these kids built places out of hip-hop, constructing dioramas of cityscapes inspired by the lyrics of songs by such artist as Lauryn Hill, Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.
Downtown is about to get a little hotter.
Flame Ramen, which is owned by a Chicago-based company, is opening a new location on South Second Street. The company wants to capture more of the Memphis market, especially in the 18- to 45-year-old young professional demographic, according to one local manager.