Live Music Spills Into the Streets

Hear It in Downtown Memphis

Performances at Memphis Music and Heritage Festival

Music and fun at the Southern Heritage Festival. Photo by Craig Thompson

Memphis Music and Heritage Festival at Center for Southern Folklore

Great music, food and art at the Memphis Music and Southern Heritage Festival. Photo by Craig Thompson.

Beale Street: Brand USA

Explore the live music and neon on Beale Street in Memphis. Photo by Brand USA.

Jammin' out at the International Blues Challenge: Andrea Zucker

Jammin' out at the International Blues Challenge. Photo by Andrea Zucker.

Okay, we’re going to get this out of the way: Memphis is a music city.

To anyone who knows anything about Memphis, this is obvious. What’s not so obvious to a lot of people is that the music in this city isn’t dead. Sure, we’ve got the richest musical heritage this side of New Orleans, but it’s not all about the past. We’ve got some amazing musicians that play almost every night. All you need to do is take a stroll down Beale Street and you’ll hear them. You’ll hear them in Rum Boogie Café, B.B. King’s or Silky O’Sullivan’s, and you won’t even have to step inside. The music literally spills into the streets, especially in the spring and summer. All you need is a drink in your hand, a few extra bucks for the Beale Street Flippers and some stamina. Beale Street is serious about its music, and the jam sessions at any of these clubs tend to go deep into the night.

But the downtown music scene isn’t just about the blues. Memphis music is more diverse than that. Soul, gospel, jazz and rock all have strong roots -- and fan bases -- in this city.

Look no further than the New Daisy Theatre at the north end of Beale. Home to many visiting national alternative acts, the Daisy in recent years has showcased Cat Power, The Strokes and The Raconteurs, to name a few. It’s the perfect mid-size venue -- big enough to bring well-known artists, but still small enough to feel like a club.

At the other end of the Beale Street spectrum (literally) sits the majestic Orpheum Theatre. Built in 1890 and then rebuilt in 1928 after a fire, the Orpheum Theatre is Memphis’ crown-jewel venue. In addition to theater and the annual summer film series, the Orpheum hosts the most important events in Memphis, from major national acts like Tom Waits and Wilco to once-in-a-lifetime shows like the 50th Anniversary of Soul Music concert.

Midtown also has the ability to completely rock out. For smaller more intimate shows, check out the new and improved Hi-Tone Cafe. This cozy venue is a great place to catch local and regional acts in a relaxed setting. For larger concerts, Minglewood Hall is the place to be. Lucero, Hanson, Ingram Hill, Jimmy Eat World, Tegan & Sara and Star & Micey have all graced the stage at this popular music joint.