Memphis owns the distinction of being one of the greatest cities in the United States and much of that is owed to not only its southern charm but also its vast music and entertainment scene. For music lovers, the city has managed to capture nearly every possible essence of musical creativity, and it is replete with must-visit spaces for those who want to connect with artists who pioneered the soundtracks of our lives and the new leaders at the forefront.
For outsiders, the first thing that might come to mind when it comes to Memphis is the wafting aromas of good old barbecue, and maybe some music blaring out of the speakers of a Beale Street bar. But there are also spaces where music lovers can experience the creative energies that created some of the greatest audio works that have ever existed. Imagine what it must have been like for Black Memphians to have an opportunity to play music with their white counterparts free of all the racial divisiveness that plagued much of the nation in the ’50s and ’60s, stirring up harmony in place of the bigotry the Deep South was infamously known for.
Perhaps this is why Memphis stirs the soul the way it does. Notable musical heroes such as Aretha Franklin, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. Jones, Bobby “Blue” Band, and world-famous transplants like Al Green all have been part of the fabric of the city’s beautiful tapestry. There exists an almost undeniable hum in the air when one thinks of what has come forth artistically from Memphis, even to this day. Hip-Hop stars such as Three 6 Mafia, Eightball & MJG, and younger acts such as Young Dolph and Key Glock all owe a great debt to all the creators that came before them.
Among the various spaces across the city, a central point to one’s visit to Memphis should be the National Civil Rights Museum at Lorraine Hotel. As most might know, this is where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968 just as his influence was reaching its precipice. In a visit to the space over the summer, we learned that like much of the rest of the nation, race relations that may have been warming between Black and white residents cooled considerably in the wake of that tragedy.
Today, Memphis is enjoying an exciting period of growth in the realms of entertainment, tourism, and a growing food and cocktail scene that can rival any of the bigger cities in the north. The rising Memphis Grizzlies with star player Ja Morant has revitalized hoops talk in the city and new hotels such as the Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis are among the new properties that visitors can make their temporary home base while taking in the sights and sounds of nearby Beale Street and its myriad bars and venues.
Over the summer, the city hosted its GET LOUD free concert music series, which opened with PJ Morton and Marcella & Her Lovers. The series concluded in August with Marc Broussard and Turnstyles, bringing live shows back the Memphis to safely gather outdoors after the pandemic slowed things down considerably in 2020 for everyone.
October has been tagged as Memphis Music Month and Memphis Tourism has put together a new Memphis Music on Main show, a free event that kicks off on Friday, October 29, which is also Halloween weekend. In conjunction with the Downtown Memphis Commission, the event also will be moving in lockstep with the South Main Neighborhood Association’s Trolly Night event.
“Memphis is music. The Memphis sound is what motivates people from across our country and around the world to visit our amazing city,” said Kevin Kane, President & CEO of Memphis Tourism. “On the heels of our Get Loud live music series on Beale Street, our goal remains the same, celebrating Memphis music by highlighting our music attractions, vibrant live music scene, and artists that define the Memphis sound of today.”
Rocking out at the event will be North Mississippi Allstars, Al Kapone, Southern Avenue, The PRVLG, and Dottie. The shows will take place on two outdoor stages at Main and G.E. Patterson near Central Station, and a second stage at Main and Beale Street near The Orpheum. This event is all ages and families are encouraged to attend. Get the details here.
Below is a small list of spaces to visit if you’re ever down in Memphis. Be sure to follow Memphis Tourism and check out the I Love Memphis blog here as well. Don’t forget the newly launched I Love Memphis Music segment too.
Stax Museum of American Soul Music
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