The impression one gets from Johannson’s article is that John Elkington pretty much runs Beale Street and that no business can open without the developer’s approval. Although Elkington has put a lot of money into Beale Street, his methods and agenda have sometimes been questioned: among other things, Johannson mentions Elkington’s dubious commitment to neighborhood development. Elkington’s side of the story is told in his Beale Street: Resurrecting the Home of the Blues (Charleston, S.C.: The History Press, 2008).
Johannson, who in 2004 completed a PhD in geography from the University of Tennessee, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Lund University in Sweden, where, I presume, he was raised. He tells us that he first visited Memphis and Nashville in the early 1990s. “The impression was of decay and neglect,” with the areas adjacent to the central business districts showing “strong signs of disinvestment.” Things, of course, have changed, and “a visit to downtown Nashville or Memphis today is quite a different experience.”
Johannson’s article is titled “Form, Function, and the Making of Music-Themed Entertainment Districts in Nashville and Memphis.” Material Culture is published by the Pioneer America Society and is now in its forty-fourth year.