Beyond Beale Street: The Best Live Music Venues in Memphis

Jammin' out at the International Blues Challenge: Andrea Zucker
Jammin' out at the International Blues Challenge. Photo by Andrea Zucker.
Records at Goner: Kerry Crawford
Goner Records in Midtown Memphis
Levitt Shell: Commercial Appeal
Recognized as the site of Elvis Presley's first professional rock 'n' roll show, The Levitt Shell has been an outdoor performing arts pavilion. Image by The Commercial Appeal.
Looking for live music outside of Beale Street? See our recommendations. Photo by Kerry Crawford.

Memphis is known as the “Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and the deep musical tradition can be traced back to the 1800s. Even today, there is plenty of live music to be found in the Bluff City. Whether you’re searching for soothing sounds or toe-tappin’ tunes, make sure to venture beyond the bright neon lights of Beale Street. There are plenty of venues throughout the city of Memphis that feature everything from large concerts to small, cozy performances.

Young Avenue Deli (2119 Young Avenue) – Voted one of the top places in Memphis to see live music, Young Avenue Deli is a popular performance spot for local musicians. A favorite of Amy LaVere, Al Kapone and Compulsive Gamblers, this Cooper Young neighborhood staple is also one of the main venues for Rock for Love and often hosts CD release parties and cabaret shows.

Hi-Tone (412-414 North Cleveland) – Rock out indie style at this popular local hangout. The newly revamped Hi-Tone hits Midtown with more space, a bigger stage and an eclectic roster of local and regional musical acts. There are multiple shows on the weekend, and bands that play later in the evening are usually for patrons 21 and older.

Levitt Shell (1928 Poplar) – Just like some of the best things in life, the summer concerts at the Levitt Shell are free. Their summer series features over 50 musical performances under the stars on the same outdoor stage where a young Elvis Presley got his start. Click here to see their calendar of events

Minglewood Hall (1555 Madison) – As one of the most unique concert spaces in town, Minglewood boasts an expansive bar area and flexible performance area. Acts such as Switchfoot, Neutral Milk Hotel, Lucero, Sister Hazel, Hanson and Jack White have graced the stage at this 1500-seat venue.

The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts (255 South Main) – The Cannon Center boasts world class acoustics in a fabulous intimate space. Home of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, this performance hall has the cache to pull in top acts like Bonnie Raitt, Mach Cohn, Boney James, Shirley Caesar and Bell Biv Devoe.

Germantown Performing Arts Center (1801 Exeter) – Yes, there is absolutely live music in the suburbs. This venue has over 800 seats and has hosted heavyweights like Boyz II Men and Yo Yo Ma. They also feature special series of events like concerts devoted to American music and family friendly shows.

Lafayette’s Music Hall (2119 Madison) – Lafayette’s was the place to be in Memphis in the 1970s. This prominent music hall anchored the Overton Square entertainment district. In fact, Billy Joel credits Lafayette’s with helping to launch his musical career. The beloved nighttime hangout returns in 2014 with a new look, new menu and the same Southern charm. Lafayette's has two live bands, seven nights a week, from local and touring acts playing rock 'n' roll to jazz to blues. See their website for their music line-up. 

Newby’s (539 South Highland) – If you want to have a music-filled weekend, check out Newby’s near the University of Memphis. With live acts every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, this is a great option for quality entertainment at a reasonable price. The cover charge is usually only $10 for patrons 18 and older at this trendy establishment.