Beale Street Music Festival ~ a tradition
Our fourth annual trip to Memphis in May for the Beale Street Music Fest felt like going home. This year Jeff and I were excited to share our muddy music tradition with our daughter Emily and her boyfriend Jacob. I love the South and keeping traditions!
The best part of our annual pilgrimage is staying with our fun loving friend Erin Lee, who first opened her home to my family in West Point, MS, and now opens her home in Memphis anytime Jeff and I want to visit. Erin is like family to us and is truly a non judgmental friend no matter what we are weathering in life.
The weather was the big new this year for the Beale Street Music Fest! Friday and Saturday we stayed dry for the first time in four years. It was wonderful! However, Sunday did not disappoint those who bought a new pair of Memphis in May boots, another tradition for the fashion divas at mud fest.
Enjoying the festival
We didn’t last long on Friday night. The sunset was amazing over the Mississippi! We heard a little Manchester Orchestra and Cake, but missed Jason Maraz. We just couldn’t hold up after a long day of traveling.
- I saw Amy Lavere for the first time. Amy is a spunky little gypsy jazz chick who plays a double base and writes beautifully witty songs. She sang a couple songs that really resonated with me, and a few that Jimbo Mathus wrote for her.
- Jimbo Mathis is another Americana, gypsy jazz, blues musician who is known as a folklorist. Jeff and I heard Jimbo last year at Ground Zero in Clarksdale preforming Mosquitoville, a tale based on local Quitman County history. We were looking forward to hearing him again and was not disappointed. His show rocked the Blues tent!
- Jeff and I had to see Jerry Lee Lewis, wanting to see how the “mean old man” was holding up. This year Jerry Lee’s sister Linda Gail Lewis, accompanied by her daughter, hit the stage to preform a couple of Jerry’s songs, obviously inheriting his talent. Jerry Lee Lewis looked great and seemed to be really into it this year.
- I lucked out with an awesome spot to see Mumford and Sons. Saturday night sold out with a truly electrifying crowd, a sea of people on the banks of the muddy Mississippi stretching out from the Budweiser stage to the front gates. Mumford and Sons were the highlight of my trip! We had planned to see Ludacris and John Mellencamp, but went back to Erin’s because the crowd was just too much (even for me).
Not really ready to call it a night, Jeff, Erin and I hit Beale Street which was just as packed as the festival. To escape the crowds, we ducked into the juke joint attached to the Rum Boogie and were extremely fortunate to hear Patrick Dodd, who rocked his faded blue Fender with a mixture of blues and some old school Jimmy Hendrix! I absolutely love the local talent in Memphis! A few musicians showed up to the juke joint with their instruments. Patrick invited a sax, trumpet and an electric guitar musician to join him for an impromptu performance. Wow, another highlight to my trip!
Severe weather on Sunday prevented us from heading to the festival until it was safe. The mud fest must go on! I had a blast dancing in the mud, shuffling between Ziggy Marley, Saving Abel and Al Kapone. CeeLo Green was worth all the mud dancing! His voice didn’t carry as well, but he still rocked Crazy
“I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind…there was something so pleasant about that place” Love that song!
and then finally “F” You. Despite the horrible weather delays, it was another great day!
Sunday night a new tradition was born! We ended a perfect festival weekend at Itta Bena’s, a fine dining restaurant above BB King’s. Closing down the joint, we ordered Crab Bisque, hot rolls and Southern Pecan Beer. MMM! Erin and I danced at BB Kings to some soul music and ended the night with a walk around downtown Memphis to see what all the locals were up to.
No trip to Memphis is complete without breakfast at The Blue Plate, one of our favorite traditions. We toasted to another fun trip and a wonderful breakfast.
Beale Street Festival Observations
Social Media was in the house! This year we used the Beale Street Festival Facebook page to stay on top of the developments, even though we didn’t trust their weather announcements on Sunday. It was fun to hear what people were saying about their experiences at the festival. My favorite snark….
…all because “Memphis in June” doesn’t have a ring to it…
Sunday at 4:06pm · Like ·
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While most people were positive, some complained about the lineup and the lack of AT&T coverage. I hope they will utilize their Facebook page even more next year, posting more updates. I also enjoyed the pics and videos posted, although I was a bit envious of the press pass holders. I really think bloggers should be considered for press passes next year.
John Henshall, a friend from Australia, has attended past Beale Street Music Festivals. John observed the evolution of the Beale Street Music Festival in the posters by George Hunt, which clearly illustrates how the festival’s roots are in Blues musicians and now features a lineup that he wasn’t familiar with. I had to admit that I didn’t know many of names either. We wondered if the target audience has shifted to a younger audience?
Plans for next year ~ the tradition continues
Next year Jeff and I will be even more prepared for the mud fest. Jeff, the original cat herder is always thinking logistics. We came prepared with our boots, rain gear, etc. This year we were given a little back pack from Nationwide, which inspired Jeff to create a “survival kit” for the festival that will fit into this little nap sack.
Jeff’s Memphis In May ~ Beale Street Music Fest Survival Kit
- Large piece of plastic to sit on
- Ponchos (rain gear) & umbrellas
- Little plastic bags for phone & wallet
- Travel tissues for the Port-O-Potties / maybe even a few wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Beer coozie
- Little light weight over the shoulders nap sack
Regardless of the weather or an unfamiliar lineup, I thoroughly enjoyed the diverse music, discovered a few new bands that I will follow, had a blast with Memphis friends and heard some fantastic Blues on Beale Street. We’ll be back next year, It feels like coming home and is a cherished tradition!
Do you have a favorite music festival or a yearly pilgrimage that has become a tradition? Please share your stories with me!