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Center for Southern Folklore is worth the visit if you want to sit and hear some blues or have a beer and learn about Southern culture. This private, non-profit organization is dedicated to informing people about Southern history with an emphasis on music and art. The interior, decorated by local artists, is eclectic and includes a gift shop and coffee bar. The gift shop is a great place to get books or albums featuring Memphis and Memphis artists. They also have live music Friday and Saturday evenings.
Right in the heart of Downtown Memphis lies the legendary Beale Street. Ever since its inception in 1841, Beale Street has always been a major locus of commerce in the city. As the years progressed and the street and the area around it built up, the street snowballed into a thriving commonplace for travelling African-American musicians to perform. With the advent of the Orpheum Theater and the Church Park, nightclubs, restaurants and shops began to brim the area. Through the early 20th Century, legendary musicians like Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters and BB King performed on Beale Street and developed the Memphis Blues sound. Today, Beale Street is a major attraction in the city of Memphis, with legendary blues clubs, restaurants and shops that have been around almost as long as the street itself. Come evening, the street and its many lanes are illuminated by myriad neon-signboards of bars and restaurants which merrily beckon tourists and locals alike. The street is also known for hosting the grand Memphis in May International Festival and the Beale Street Music Festival every year.
This district was one of the loveliest residential areas during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The houses, with their Victorian gingerbread trim, languished in disrepair during the earlier 20th Century, but in the 1970s the area staged a comeback. The restored houses are worth a drive through the neighborhood on their own, but the area has also become a hip entertainment spot, with restaurants, nightclubs, and antique stores. One weekend each fall, the Cooper-Young neighborhood holds the Cooper-Young Festival with crafts, music, and food.