The arrival of spring in Memphis means lots of things, chief among which is Memphis in May, a multicultural experience that celebrates the best of everything the Bluff City has to offer. Memphis in May kicks off every year with the Beale Street Music Festival, an eclectic celebration that fills downtown Memphis with music. This year, the festival will begin on Friday, May 4, and run through the weekend, wrapping up on Sunday, May 6.
The festival takes place in the 33-acre Tom Lee Park, with the Mississippi River as the backdrop to the music. There will be four music areas in total, with three main stages and a blues tent delivering three days of tunes and fun at what will be the 41st annual Beale Street Music Festival. Even though the event takes place in Tom Lee Park, it takes place at the end of Beale Street (which is located inside the park), hence its name.
The very first Beale Street Music Festival was held at the corner of Beale Street and Third Street in 1977, the year after Memphis in May was launched. However, at that time, another musical celebration—the Sunset Symphony—held court in Tom Lee Park, which was much smaller and seldom used.
By 1990, the Beale Street Music Festival had officially become part of Memphis in May. As it had outgrown the Beale and Third location, it moved to Tom Lee Park and embraced the Memphis in May ethos of bringing a true multicultural music experience to the banks of the Mississippi.
While Beale Street may be most famous for the blues, artists performing at the Beale Street Music Festival cross all genres. Rockers Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age, Odesza, Cake and Incubus will share the stage with Ludacris, Action Bronson, Erykah Badu and the North Mississippi All-Stars. Also appearing will be David Byrne, Gov’t Mule, Alanis Morissette, The Flaming Lips, Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional. Meanwhile, in the blues tent, festival-goers can experience performers such as Earl “The Pearl” Banks, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Sam Joyner and Jimmy “Duck” Holmes.
Advance tickets for the event are currently available online, and can also be purchased at the park on the day of the show. Tickets are available for single days or for the entire event, and three-day passes are available at a discounted price until April 30. There is no age restriction—all ages are welcome!