Vendor City Guide: Memphis

Tony Dyson was born in Memphis but has moved between there and Florida since he was a child. He worked for the city cutting grass but health problems led him to become homeless and he sells The Bridge to support his accommodation at a mission. “Right now I’m down but I’m trying to get back,” he says, adding that selling The Bridge is helping him save to buy a van so he can get back to work. “It’s going to get me where I’m going.”

When you are walking in Memphis…

You can’t avoid the music in the city. It’s everywhere; you can hear music playing out of cars, you can hear music when you go to Beale Street, Elvis Presley Boulevard, everywhere you go. I like rhythm and blues, smooth jazz, a little country and western. I like a little bit of it all. I don’t differentiate between the music that came out of Stax and Sun Studios because as far as I’m concerned they all had a story to tell.

My favourite part of the city
The riverfront. They got a great old big park down there, Beale Street Landing where they the ships come in but we don’t get the great big old steamships. It’s not a fast river, it’s a steady little flow. And on Mud Island we have what we call Memphis in May, a music festival down with barbecue on the river.

On a budget
Over by the zoo they have a lot of concerts and they are free. You can sit out on the grass with a picnic basket and enjoy yourself. And then downtown on Beale Street called Handy Park, they have a lot of free concerts down there. There’s an outside arena they set up and different bands come down and put concerts on.

My favourite time of year
Springtime. when it’s time to go cut the grass! It’s easy to get out of the city. You can go north, south, east, west, in any direction outside the city and enjoy God’s handiwork. But you have to go real far out to get hills and mountains, the landscape is quite flat.

Photo by PJ Szabo on Unsplash

The best places to eat
Oh man, there’s all kinds of food in Tennessee. We have a place to get chicken called Gus’s Chicken – they got some of the greatest chicken down there on Front Street. For burgers you gotta go down on Main Street. The burgers are priced nice; the chicken is priced nice. And another place people like to go is called The Arcade, where Elvis Presley used to go.

Seeing the ghost of Elvis
I’ve been around Graceland. I believe everybody should get the chance to go to Graceland and enjoy themselves. They just built a great big hotel down there called The Guest House, less than a block away down the street.

Originally published by The Big Issue (UK)

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