Songs of September
This is the month of midtown music festivals.
photograph by Nathan Black
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If May brings music fans downtown in droves for the annual Beale Street Music Festival, September has become the month for Midtown, with four different live music festivals or concert series showcasing both local bands and national touring acts at a variety of venues between the Parkways. Here’s a quick guide to this month’s offerings:
The venerable Overton Park bandshell, which helped launch Elvis Presley’s concert career and was the home base for much of Memphis 1960s and ’70s blues and folk revivals, hosts both spring and fall concert series every year, with each consisting of twentysomething free shows on Thursday through Sunday nights over the course of several weeks.
The lawn of the Shell on a cool, fall night is one of Memphis’ best places to be, especially with a stellar lineup of free music and some of the city’s best vendors offering food and drink.
This fall’s schedule started on August 29th with Grammy-winning Texas roots/polka band Brave Combo and concludes on Sunday, October 6th, with jazz/soul singer (and member of one of Memphis music’s first families) Vaneese Thomas. But most of the action takes place in September, with something in the mix for pretty much everyone. Speaking of first families, the highest-profile show will surely be Lisa Marie Presley on Saturday, September 21st.
Some other potential highlights: Indie country singer Elizabeth Cook — a killer songwriter, great storyteller, and regular on both The Late Show with David Letterman and the Grand Ole Opry — on Thursday, September 5th. Local roots-rock ace John Paul Keith celebrating the release of his latest album, Memphis Circa 3AM, on the Shell stage on Friday, September 20th. The Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s “Opus One” performance with Memphis soul veteran John Gary Williams (of the Stax vocal group the Mad Lads) and classic R&B revivalists the Bo-Keys.
For a full schedule, see levittshell.org.