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.
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.
1928 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104