OUTSIDE & ON STAGE IN WEST TENNESSEE
I’m lucky to live within walking distance of the park and its famous shell. That walk on warm nights, under the boughs of magnolias, into the green footprint of the park, is part of the allure, though visitors won’t feel excluded: Under the stars, on the lawn in front of the shell, where Elvis Presley opened for Slim Whitman in 1954, we’re all one with the music.
Shows are scheduled 7:30 p.m. most Thursday through Sunday evenings through July 20. Bring a blanket and lawn chair(s) and your own eats and drinks, or hit the food trucks and beer concession onsite. Concerts are free, even when Rosanne Cash performs on June 14. Others to listen for: Amy LaVere on June 8; Cedric Burnside on June 21; Stax Music Academy on June 29; Lucero on July 17; Old 97s on July 20. My last tip: Since you’re not spending on concert tickets, put a little something in the shell’s donation bucket to help keep the concerts free.
Elsewhere in Memphis, listen for:
Parties on the roof of The Peabody Memphis are rockin’ 6-11 p.m. Thursday evenings through Aug. 14. DJs host and bands rock, but I’m going for the elevated view of downtown Memphis as night falls. There’s a $10-$15 cover; snack buffet and drink specials are available. Ladies, arrive before 7 p.m. for free cover. Hotel guests always receive complimentary admission.
Memphis Botanic Garden’s Live at the Garden concert series. For the first time in its 13-year history, the series will have a permanent stage inside the garden. The new stage and surroundings are referred to as the “live garden,” described by its architects as a “large-scale garden room” with organic architecture, including a “living wall” of camellias and other plantings fronted by colorful beds. In its inaugural season, the stage will host Little Big Town (June 21), the Goo Goo Dolls and Daughtry (July 12), Jennifer Nettles (Aug. 1), Styx (Aug. 22), and Darius Rucker (Sept. 20). Lawn tickets are still available ($45 plus fees), and you can bring your own food and beverages or purchase them onsite. Blankets and basic folding chairs are encouraged.
Overton Square’s Thursdays Squared series sounds off in the Tower Courtyard at Trimble Place and Florence Street in midtown Memphis. Imagine a 21-and-up street party set to music in the don’t-call-it-a-comeback corridor of Overton Square, a walk-able cluster of shops, restaurants, bars, and theaters. Concerts run through Aug. 28 on Thursday evenings, 6-11 p.m. Covers vary from $5 to $15 depending on the headliner. Beer and wine are also sold. My best bets are Star & Micey and John Paul Keith & the 145s on June 12; Lord T & Eloise on July 3.
If it’s Wednesday night, get to the Cooper-Young Historic District gazebo (corner of Cooper Street and Young Avenue) between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. for Red Hot Summer Music. I’m especially excited about Nancy Apple’s performance on July 23 and the series finale on Aug. 27 featuring Loveland Duren. Remember, too, that Cooper-Young is one of Memphis’ ultimate park-once-and-make-a-night-of-it districts. Hear what I had to say about it this week on the local news (note that the new restaurants mentioned are Strano Sicilian Kitchen & Bar and Tart).
One more: The Amphitheatre at Mud Island River Park will host James Taylor on Aug. 6. That’s the venue that wraps you in a view of downtown Memphis’ skyline and the Mississippi River. Tickets range from $49.50 to $85. No outside food or beverages are permitted.
Outside of Memphis, try this: Union City’s Discovery Park is bringing in big-name acts for its inaugural Summer Concert Series. This West Tennessee super-attraction totaling $100 million-plus is part science center, part history museum, part children’s museum, part historic village, and even more, the concert series spares no expense: The Charlie Daniels Band opens the series on June 6, followed by Travis Tritt and Corey Smith on June 20; Survivor, Starship and Exile on July 19; Sawyer Brown, Lee Roy Parnell, and Maggie Rose on July 26; and Everclear, Tonic, and Vertical Horizon on Aug. 23. Concerts take place outside on Discovery Park’s Great Lawn, which is itself an attraction, surrounded by water features and gardens. Tickets for all concerts are $45, including tax and parking. Call 877-885-5455 or visit Discovery Park in person or online for tickets. No coolers are allowed at this one, but blankets and chairs are encouraged, and food and beverages will be sold onsite.
Which venue(s) and which performer(s) are on your “playlist” this summer in Tennessee? Tell me in the comments section below.