I embarked on a solo, cross-country tour of sorts. Combining my love of travel and music, I visited popular music cities. I cashed in credit card points for plane tickets, purchased an Amtrak 15-day rail pass and hitched rides with family. The selected locales were Seattle (Grunge), Detroit (Motown) and Memphis (Blues, Rock and Roll, and a little Country).
First Stop: Seattle, Washington
After an uneventful flight (the best kind), I touched down in The Emerald City, grabbed a rental car and headed straight for Greenwood Cemetery. Why start on such a grim note? It’s the final resting place of trailblazing artist Jimi Hendrix. While researching the Grunge scene in Seattle, I discovered Jimi Hendrix was born there. His father’s gift of a guitar, became the catalyst for Jimi to become one of the greatest guitarists of the 20th century. On a clear summer day the memorial seemed very peaceful. Offerings of books, rosary beads, guitar picks, business cards (perplexed about those) adorn the memorial. There are images and poem verses etched into the structure. Several family members are also buried there.
I checked into my hotel, took a nap and intended to go out that night to get the lay of the land. Well, I woke up at 2:00 a.m. the next day. My body had finally had enough. In the previous 24 hours, I caught a bus from Baltimore to New York City to see Dave Chappelle and Erykah Badu. Got right back on the bus back to Bmore. Didn’t sleep and in four hours I was Seattle bound.
Saturday’s agenda included visiting:
- The Sound Garden-the sculptural namesake for the Grammy Award-winning group
- Capitol Hill-the neighborhood that served as a Grunge music incubator and was the setting for the 90s movie Singles
- Viretta Park-location of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s former house and bench where he did a lot of writing.
But first, I experienced the sensory overload that is the famous, fish-throwing Pike Place Market. The market has 240+ stalls brimming with produce, sweets, crafts, antiques-anything you can think of. The first Starbucks is located across the street. I purchased some chocolate pasta (yup, you read that right), grabbed a requisite magnet and went out in search of the Gum Wall. It is EXACTLY as it sounds; an alley of colorful masticated wads of chewing gum. Named one of the germiest tourist attractions by TripAdvisor, the sticky madness began about 20 years ago.
Starvacious (my word) I made my way to the nationally-acclaimed, Cuban sandwich restaurant Paseo. Seeing the extremely long line and having no patience, I promptly walked up the block to a burger joint. Turns out Uneeda Burger was voted Seattle’s best burger. The burger and fries were beyond tasty. But the pièce de résistance was that butterscotch milkshake with homemade butterscotch syrup!
So pretty much my itinerary was a bust. The Sound Garden art display is on the grounds of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Magnuson Park. Well, the campus is closed on the weekends. Then I realized there was a huge Pride festival taking place in Capitol Hill. Not wanting to get stuck in traffic in an unfamiliar place, I passed.
Last on the list was Viretta Park. Making it to the general vicinity of the park was easy. Finding the bench was the epitome of difficult. After walking around and scouring Yelp reviews for intel, I admitted defeat. Since Kurt Cobain’s bench is not an official landmark, there are no directional signs. As I made a u-turn to exit the Denny-Blaine neighborhood, I saw an itty-bitty, below-eye-level, hidden-behind-greenery sign that read Viretta Park. I slammed on the breaks, parked, and at the bottom of some steep stairs was the makeshift memorial.
A documentary about the rocker’s life, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2015, and will air on HBO in May.
Part deux of my Seattle trip includes R&B singer Brian McKnight, the space needle and EMP Museum.