Tag Archives: Elvis

Levitt Shell Concerts

photo by Levitt Pavilions, Flickr
photo by Levitt Pavilions, Flickr

Every year the Levitt Shell hosts more than 50 free concerts and events and this year’s line-up includes Rosanne Cash, Davina & The Vagabonds, Chubby Carrier, and the Old 97’s. Here is a video by Mississippi blues piano player Eden Brent, live at the Levitt Shell.

As a visitor, you may not know the Levitt Shell isn’t just any other bandstand. It was built in 1933 as an outdoor performing arts pavilion in Overton Park in the heart of Midtown. Over the years the venue, originally called the Overton Park Shell, has hosted many great performances of light opera, ballet, and musicals.

Elvis10

The most significant concert in the shell’s history was on July 30, 1954 when a young Elvis Presley opened for headliner Slim Whitman and caused a sensation. Music historians regard it as the first rock n’ roll show!

Designed by architect Max Furbringer, the City of Memphis and the Works Progress Administration built the shell for $11,935,  and modeled it after similar structures in St. Louis, Chicago, and New York.  Over the years it fell into disrepair but was saved from demolition three times–in the mid-sixties, in 1973, and in 1984–by a group of dedicated people passionate to keep it. Extensively renovated and re-opened in 2008, the venue is one of  the few remaining band shells of  the original 27 built during the WPA era. All that history helps to appreciate this art deco gem while you spread out your blanket, unpack your cooler, and sit back to listen to some great music in the twilight.

Levitt Shell
1928 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104
http://levittshell.org/

 

 

 

 

 

“Viva Las Vegas” Turns 50

ElvisViva-Las-Vegas10247681

Graceland is celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of Elvis Presley’s most popular films. “Viva Las Vegas” was released on May 20, 1964, at the height of Beatlemania, competing with “A Hard Day’s Night” for teen dollars. The sizzling on-screen chemistry between Elvis and Ann Margret must have worked because the movie went on to reach number 14 at the box office and was named one of the “Top 20 Movie Box Office Hits of 1964.”


On display at Graceland is the iconic red shirt Elvis wore during the talent show scenes in which he sings the title song.

photo by elvis.com

Graceland
3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, TN 38116
Phone: +1 901-332-3322
http://www.elvis.com/

Elvis and Ann-Margret recorded a duet called “You’re the Boss” but it was dropped from the film. No footage exists of their musical tête-à-tête but the song has since been released.

Memphis Music

Beale Street

photo by mrbrent62, Flickr
photo by mrbrent62, Flickr

Birthplace of the blues. Touristy and bustling with people but there’s still good music there.   Walk around the small strip of bars and restaurants for the neon and party atmosphere alone. When you hear a band you like, pop in for a drink or two. The clubs feature blues, of course, but you may also hear soul, R & B, rock, country, and rockabilly played on Beale.
http://www.memphistravel.com/music-nightlife

The Memphis Flyer

MemphisFlyer
Many music clubs are located all around town not just on Beale Street so the best way to find out what’s going on is to pick up the free local entertainment weekly, The Memphis Flyer. http://www.memphisflyer.com/

Blues Music Awards

photo by JoTeri, Flickr
photo by JoTeri, Flickr

Sponsored by The Blues Foundation, the annual Blues Music Awards celebrate the best in blues music. It’s like the Academy Awards for great blues musicians! Leading up to the big night, many of the top artists are in town, playing in clubs and attending the ceremony.
The Blues Foundation
421 South Main, Memphis TN 38103
Phone: (901) 527-2583
http://blues.org/

International Blues Challenge

photo by BlairEvanBall, Flickr
photo by BlairEvanBall, Flickr

Hundreds of blues musicians come from all over the country and the world to take part in this annual five-day event, usually held in late January. Performers for the challenge are chosen by local blues societies to come to compete in three categories: Band, Solo/Duet, and Best Self-Produced CD–all for cash, prizes, and industry recognition.
The Blues Foundation
421 South Main, Memphis TN 38103
Phone: (901) 527-2583
http://blues.org/

Beale Street Music Festival

photo by ConcertTour, Flickr
photo by ConcertTour, Flickr

Part of the Memphis in May International Festival, this annual three-day event is held at Riverfront Park at the foot of Beale Street. There’s an emphasis on local musicians but the three outdoor stages showcase many national touring artists, too.
Memphis in May International Festival
56 South Front St, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone (901) 525-4611
http://www.memphisinmay.org/music-about

Memphis Music and Heritage Festival

photo by memphissamiam1, Flickr
photo by memphissamiam1, Flickr

Usually held over the Labor Day weekend, this colorful festival takes place on Main Street in downtown Memphis.  For two days, a wide variety of cultures take to the streets with people enjoying local music of every kind–blues, gospel, rock, folk, country–along with cooking demonstrations and dance shows throughout the day.
http://www.memphismusicandheritagefestival.com/

Center for Southern Folklore

photo by joespake, Flickr
photo by joespake, Flickr

In addition to showcasing artists’ work, this gallery also hosts music events in the evenings.  There’s only about two dozen tables so it’s an intimate way to see up-and-coming and established artists in a casual setting. If it’s a freebie, be sure to throw a tip in the musician’s bucket or buy their CD.
The Center for Southern Folklore
123 South Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 525-3655
http://www.southernfolklore.com/

The Full Gospel Tabernacle

photo by ConcertTour
photo by ConcertTour

Born in Arkansas in 1946, singer Al Green was ordained a pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis in the seventies.  This is where he still preaches and sings gospel when he’s in town.  Here’s a video of Rev. Green performing the classic “A Change is Gonna Come.”

The Full Gospel Tabernacle
787 Hale Road, Memphis, TN
Phone: 901-396 9192
http://www.algreenmusic.com/fullgospeltabernacle.html

Elvis Week

photo by John Dreyer, Flickr
photo by John Dreyer, Flickr

Elvis tribute artists converge at Graceland for the annual Elvis Week celebration in August. Festivities also include special tours, hip-shakin’ karaoke, movie screenings, and dance parties. Long live The King!

photo by marques.murilo, Flickr
photo by marques.murilo, Flickr

Graceland
3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, TN 38116
Phone: +1 901-332-3322
http://www.elvis.com/

WDIA Radio

photo by ilovememphis, Flickr
photo by ilovememphis, Flickr

While you’re in town, check out local radio. On the air since 1947, WDIA became the first radio station in America programming music entirely for African-Americans. B.B. King worked here as a disc jockey, and so did Rufus Thomas–two of the many black radio personalities the station hired over the years.

photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos

WDIA AM 1070
12 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 525-3318
http://www.mywdia.com/main.html