With my senses pushing overload, I sit down and mull over the extensive menu, more out of habit than necessity, as I've been given a tip: Look no further than the pork ribs. I debate the price difference between a full order ($15.95) and a small order ($12.50), and decide to go hog wild with the full Monty and chase it down with a pitcher of Michelob ($6.95). Line of thinking here: no regrets. If it means pretzels for breakfast on Sunday, come what may.
Charlie favors the drier version of barbecue ribs over the sauce-saturated variety, but his secret hot sauce is on the table for those so inclined. I am. One bite into these perfectly seasoned, slathered ribs of pork and I'm in hog heaven. And although I know it's financially irresponsible, I can't resist taking a little Charlie home with me. A bottle of famous sauce and accompanying spices runs me $7.
Fully fueled, I head for Beale Street, the birthplace of the blues. Yet it's "Love Me Tender," not W.C. Handy, I hear bellowing down its Bourbon Street-like corridor. Inside The Pig on Beale, one of the many bars and live-music clubs that line this section of the street, I see something that walks like Elvis and talks like Elvis, so it must be … wait … nope. It's Radford Ellis, whose Elvis impersonation show, the E-Factor, holds court here on Friday nights. When one of the first things I hear is, "Are you folks getting drunk yet? Because the drunker you get, the better I sound," I wonder if I will be begging for my $2 cover back. I happily down a cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon draft ($3), but I don't think I'm as altered as Ellis would like. His act is entertaining, if not for its lack of talent. His $15 CD? Not in the budget.
While my father does somersaults in his grave, I seek authenticity at B.B. King's Blues Club, where the blues legend himself has been known to show up unannounced. The $7 cover hurts, but the sweet sounds of Preston Shannon's soulful wail and a Mason jar of Louisiana's finest draught, Purple Haze ($5.03), quickly eases the blow. If it's the best in contemporary blues you seek, this is the spot. I break for bed, however, before I end up emptying my pockets under a spell induced by Shannon's mesmerizing guitar licks. Along the way, I stop at the A. Schwab Store, a Memphis emporium like no other. Elvis once shopped here, but for what I'll never know. The inventory ranges from voodoo powders to handcuffs to religious icons. A. Schwab has been in business since 1876, but surely more for spectacle than practicality.