Memphis musician Mark Edgar Stuart plays live on the yard stage of Railgarten, a restaurant and live music venue in Midtown Memphis.
Alex Shansky

Where Is the Live Music in Memphis? Answer: Everywhere.

Many cities claim to be live music capitals. Memphis is different. We don’t have to toot our own horn (yeah, we said it) so much as tell you to just open your ears and move toward the sound you like, no matter what genre you're into, where you are in town or what day of the week it is. But we do want to help you along by sharing this neighborhood guide to some of Memphis' best live music venues.

But first: Outdoor Music Venues in Memphis

We'll get to the neighborhood guide shortly, but with the weather and volume of events warming up, we can't wait to talk about places to listen to live music outside in Memphis this season. Don't miss:

 

 

The Grove at GPAC (1801 Exeter Rd., Germantown) The recent addition of this outdoor space at Germantown Performing Arts Center is made for good weather. Relax on the shaded lawn (with easy access to a bar and food truck corral) as local acts like Bailey Bigger and Mark Edgar Stuart perform during the venue's $5 family-friendly Bluebird Concert Series.

Loflin Yard (7 W. Carolina, Downtown Memphis) This downtown hangout hosts occasional concerts on a sprawling lawn filled with Adirondack chairs and picnic tables. Lounge, enjoy the craft food and cocktail menu and listen to live music (Lucero front man Ben Nichols recently opened the 2022 season).

Railgarten (2158 Central Ave., Midtown Memphis) Maybe the only venue where you can listen to live music while playing volleyball in the sand, watching your kids on the playground and ordering tiki bar, ice cream parlor and farm-to-table favorites. Listen up for concerts by touring bands, say Band of Heathens, and local acts like Lucky 7 Brass Band.

The Fairgrounds (335 S. Hollywood St., Midtown Memphis) This is normally Memphis Tiger Football tailgating territory, but from April 29-May 1, 2022, the Memphis Fairgrounds will welcome Beale Street Music Festival, along with artists from Megan Thee Stallion to Van Morrison and tens of thousands of fans.

view of stage at Handy Park during outdoor live concert and downtown Memphis skyline
Craig Thompson
Loflin Yard, Memphis, TN
Mempho Music Festival | Alex Shansky
Levitt Shell Performers | Craig Thompson

Outdoor venues clockwise from top left: Handy Park, Loflin Yard, Overton Park Shell, Mempho Music Fest

Overton Park Shell (1928 Poplar Ave., Midtown Memphis) Formerly known as the Levitt Shell, Overton Park's historic amphitheater may be sporting a new name for the 2022 season, but you can bet its commitment to hosting free concerts throughout the late spring and fall is as strong as ever. All ages, blankets and picnics are welcome; just check the calendar and come on down. If you're an Elvis fan, note that this is where the icon performed his first paid gig.

Radians Amphitheatre (750 Cherry Rd., East Memphis) Set inside lush, blooming Memphis Botanic Garden, this newer venue has become a fast-favorite for hosting two major annual music events: the Live at the Garden Concert Series (set for June 11-Oct. 20, 2022) and Mempho Music Festival (set for Sept. 30-Oct. 2). Between these two music events, acts from Little Big Town to the Black Pumas and Julien Baker have performed on-site.

Handy Park We all love Beale Street's bars, but don't miss this outdoor concert venue right on Beale. Named for the Father of the Blues, W.C. Handy Park features two stages for concert series and impromptu blues jams.

Downtown Memphis & Beale Street Live Music Venues

It was here that the blues found an urban home, having floated up Highway 61 from the Mississippi Delta. W.C. Handy, Memphis Minnie and B.B. King all played regularly here, setting a sonic tradition that later brought Rufus Thomas, Willie Mitchell and other pioneers of Memphis' rock and soul music explosions to listen and perform on the street. Expect live music nightly, a variety of genres and dozens of clubs, including:

B.B. King's Blues Club (143 Beale St.) If Beale Street is ground zero for live music in Memphis, B.B. King’s Blues Club is the epicenter. At this de facto gateway to the Beale Street Entertainment District, catch live music daily from stalwarts including Memphis Jones, who tells the story of Memphis music as he sings through its legends' biggest hits, and the Allstar house band, infusing Memphis R&B and soul stylings. 

The Orpheum Theatre (203 S. Main St.) Widely known for its Broadway Series, The Orpheum also hosts globally acclaimed artists under its chandeliered, Art Deco-era ceiling. In 2022, listen for Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Bonnie Raitt and Ray LaMontagne, among others.

Rum Boogie Cafe (182 Beale St.) When you want to soak in the sounds of Memphis' blues tradition, Rum Boogie's your spot. Heavy-hitters like Vince Johnson, Chris Gales, Eric Hughes and Brandon Santini are frequent headliners in this venue decorated with hundreds of autographed guitars and other music memorabilia.  

Halloran Centre (225 S. Main St.) Next door to The Orpheum is its modern, more intimate counterpart. The Halloran Centre hosts concerts by touring artists while shining a light on local talent through Memphis Songwriter Showcases and "Unplugged" concerts by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

Live Music Rum Boogie Cafe / Craig Thompson
Beale Street Sign Orpheum
Craig Thompson
World Famous Beale Street Memphis Jones at BB King
Juke Joint Beale Street / Oneika Raymond

Beale Street live music venues and streetscapes clockwise from top left: Rum Boogie Cafe, Beale Street by night, Beale Street by day, Memphis Jones performs at B.B. King's Blues Club 

Cannon Center for the Performing Arts (255 S. Main St.) From comedy to ballet, you can find something for everyone on the Cannon Center's events calendar. When it comes to concerts, 2022 promises the River City Jazz Fest, Wale, Amos Lee and Beth Hart.

SugaShack (392 Beale St.) Friday and Saturday nights, lean into Memphis' soulful R&B side at this venue that's also a hit for its soul food menu. 

FedExForum (191 Beale St.) The home of the NBA Memphis Grizzlies doubles as Memphis' modern arena concert venue. When the Grizzlies are away, the hoops come down and the big names come in, like The Who in 2022.

South Main Sounds (550 S. Main St.) A place for both up-and-coming and established musicians from Memphis and beyond, this casual, intimate gallery in the South Main Historic Arts District regularly hosts singer/songwriter nights.

Midtown Memphis Live Music Venues

Midtown Memphis, due east of downtown Memphis by about three miles, is a collection of neighborhood/entertainment districts and their environs stretching from the Overton Square Entertainment District to the Broad Avenue Arts District and Cooper-Young Entertainment District. In other words: ready-made nights out with close-knit line-ups of live music venues, bars and restaurants. 

Lafayette's Music Room (2119 Madison Ave. in Overton Square) Daily, and sometimes twice a day, you can catch live music at this landmark that got its start hosting an unknown Billy Joel and recording stars from legendary Ardent Studios just down the street. We recommend Sunday brunch to the jazzy sounds of local guitarist Joe Restivo.

Zebra Lounge (2114 Trimble in Overton Square) Go for the full piano-bar experience.

Growlers (1911 Poplar Ave. near Overton Square) Expect local and regional acts performing energetic shows and fests with start-up charisma.

Bar DKDC (964 Cooper in Cooper-Young) This late-night hotspot with a bohemian air hosts some of Memphis' most original artists. Drop in for a DJ set by Zac Ives of Goner Records (the label/shop/fest producer headquartered right around the corner) and performances by local acts like the River City Tanlines. 

Young Avenue Deli (2119 Young in Cooper-Young) Anytime is a good time to hang at "the Deli," but check the events calendar before you go: you might be in for some live music with your local-favorite fries. 

The Cove (2559 Broad in the Broad Avenue Arts District) Go for the low-lit, pirate-themed bar; stay for live jazz on Thursdays and Sundays.  

B-Side (1553 Madison between Overton Square and Crosstown) This venue on the intimate side attracts Memphis musicians like Devil Train, Graham Winchester and Will Sexton. Find it inside the old Minglewood Hall factory building.

Marcella Live Music Bar DKDC / Craig Thompson
Crosstown Concourse / Phillip Van Zandt
Wild Bill's / Ziggy Tucker
Lafayette's Music Room at Overton Square

Midtown Memphis and Crosstown-area venues clockwise from top left: Marcella Simien at Bar DKDC, Crosstown Concourse, Lafayette's Music Room, Wild Bill's

Crosstown-Area Live Music Venues

Crosstown Concourse is a vertical urban village* resurrected from an abandoned, century-old Sears warehouse. The surrounding neighborhood now goes by "Crosstown" in local lingo, and it lies just three miles northeast of Downtown Memphis. 

 

*You'll find a brewery, bar and restaurants on-site at Crosstown Concourse to round out your night of live music. 

Crosstown Theater (1350 Concourse Ave., on-site at Crosstown Concourse) This black-box theater makes concerts sound impeccable, and special appearances by Memphis-based artists really make it sing. The theater has hosted greats from Big Star's Jody Stephens to Grammy-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum. 

Green Room (1350 Concourse Ave., on-site at Crosstown Concourse) This cozy counterpart to Crosstown Theater hosts intimate performances by touring artists and locals like Marcella Simien.

The Hi-Tone (282-284 N. Cleveland St., near Crosstown) Like variety? This is your place. Any genre goes, and musicians alternate nights with open mic entertainers, poets and comedians.

Wild Bill's (1580 Vollintine Ave., 1 mile north of Crosstown Concourse) Check the calendar for special events showcasing a variety of music genres, but for the classic Wild Bill's experience, go late on a Friday night to dance to juke joint-style grooves.

Graceland-Area live music venues

Check Graceland's events calendar for proof that even though Elvis has left the building, live music hasn't. Especially during Elvis Week, concerts rock the grounds of the King's complex. But with the addition of a new live music venue on-site and a surprise just down the road, there's more reason than ever to enjoy live music at and around Graceland.  

Graceland's Soundstage is booking big names for 2022, from Bastille and Melissa Etheridge to Robert Cray and Henry Rollins. Bonus: The venue is located across the street from Graceland at the Elvis Presley's Memphis entertainment complex, and ticket-holders get free admission to the complex after 3 p.m. on their show day.

Hernando's Hide-A-Way (3210 Old Hernando Rd., one mile north of Graceland) Dale Watson, champion of the "Ameripolitan" genre, dreamed up the closest thing to a honky-tonk you can get, bringing in touring and local artists who embody that blend of Americana-Country-Rockabilly and then some. (Think Memphis artist Amy LaVere and Watson himself.) 

East Memphis & University of Memphis-Area Live Music Venues

Head east from downtown Memphis past Midtown, and you'll feel college-town vibes coming from restaurants and bars that double as live music venues around the University of Memphis. Keep heading east for that "where everybody knows your name" feel. You'll reach the University area and the edge of East Memphis within 20 minutes of leaving downtown.

The Bluff (535 S. Highland) and Newby’s (539 S. Highland) Together, The Bluff and Newby's help to anchor the University-area shopping and entertainment district known as the Highland Strip. At The Bluff, expect local and regional acts, especially rock and country bands, in a generous concert space. Newby’s, “the college bar you never graduate from,” specializes in chill live music and DJs.

Neil's Music Room (5725 Quince Rd.) and Brookhaven Pub (695 W. Brookhaven Cir.) invite you to rub elbows with the locals while celebrating the genres that Memphis made famous. Local acts like Elmo and the Shades bring the blues, Memphis Soul Remedy does its groove thing and The Pistol & The Queen rock out: just a few examples of what you might hear at these two local-favorites.

Hernando's Hideaway | Alex Shansky
The Grove at GPAC - Justin Fox Burks Photo
Highland Strip / Alex Shansky
Live at the Garden / James Wessels

Clockwise from top left: Hernando's Hide-A-Way near Graceland; Germantown Performing Arts Center's outdoor venue, The Grove; a Live at the Garden concert at Radians Amphitheater at Memphis Botanic Garden in East Memphis; the Highland Strip near the University of Memphis

Germantown & Southaven Live Music Venues

Germantown, Tennessee, and Southaven, Mississippi, are residential suburbs of Memphis. And yes, live music venues stretch into both. You'll reach Southaven about 25 minutes south of downtown Memphis; Germantown about 30 minutes east. Check the events calendars for each of these community's signature concert venue and you'll see they're worth the drive.

Germantown Performing Arts Center (1801 Exeter, Germantown, TN) Just say "jee-pack" when referring to this venue that will host Mavis Staples and the Milk Carton Kids in 2022. With curated series from "Jazz in the Box" to family-friendly "Peanut Butter & Jam" concerts, appearances by Memphis' experimental IRIS Orchestra and the aforementioned concerts in The Grove, you'll find a sophisticated but balanced line-up here.

Landers Center (4560 Venture Dr., Southaven, MS) If you're looking for live music concerts and festivals within easy reach of Memphis, be sure to include the Landers Center in your search. In 2022, the arena concert experience here will feature Luke Bryan, the Tri-State Blues Festival and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds. 

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