There’s no doubt that Memphis is steeped in music history. After all, it’s the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll and the home of the blues. There’s been live music played on Beale Street since the 1860s, and if you stroll down the famous street today, you’ll see the stars of artists who were born, lived or recorded in Memphis. There are very few cities in the United States that can claim to be as big a part of American music history.
That heritage can be seen throughout Memphis to this day. Though Beale Street may get most of the attention, there are great places to hear live music all over. If you find yourself in Memphis, here are a few venues you need to check out.
B.B. King’s Restaurant & Blues Club
Beale Street’s most famous live music venue brings in some of the most sophisticated and diverse modern blues lineups in Memphis. Swing by on any given night for the chance to see the B.B. King All-Star Band tearing through a set.
When it’s not hosting the Memphis Grizzlies as the “Grindhouse,” the FedExForum welcomes some of the biggest names in music. Located near the west end of Beale Street, the state-of-the-art arena can accommodate 18,000 cheering and screaming music fans. Past acts who’ve stopped by have included the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi and Bruno Mars.
While it may be best known for its Broadway performances, the Orpheum on South Main Street offers its fair share of live music, with symphonies, singers and major bands all populating its calendar. The gilded ceiling, plush interior and upscale feel contribute to a live music experience like no other.
The Halloran Centre is located right next to the Orpheum and consists of both a modern theater and an education center. The Halloran Centre welcomes classical music groups and artists from all over.
The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts
You’ll find no better acoustics in all of Memphis than at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. It’s the home of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and has hosted a number of nationally known artists from a wide array of genres, including Bonnie Raitt, Marc Cohn, Bell Biv DeVoe and Shirley Caesar.
BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove
There’s something special about watching major national touring acts while sprawling on an outdoor lawn, so it’s no wonder crowds are attracted to the BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove. Matchbox 20, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The White Stripes and Miranda Lambert are just a few of the musical acts that have taken the stage. As an alternative to the lawn, you can snag some of the 4,000 premium seats if that’s more your jam.
The Handy Park Pavilion
Located on the legendary Beale St., the Handy Park Pavilion was named for W.C. Handy—a musical titan otherwise known as the “Father of the Blues.” Needless to say, blues is a regular sound in Handy Park to this day, and the live performances at this venue are top-notch.
If you consider yourself to be a lover of jazz-funk fusion, look no further than Blues City for energetic live performances and the best of local acts poised to go national.
The Levitt Shell
They say the best things in life are free, and concerts at the Levitt Shell are no exception! This 1930s-era band shell has been a hub of music in Memphis for decades and hosts more than 50 free shows every year.
This bar is a hangout for fans of rock, hip-hop, indie and more. There’s no telling what kind of music you’ll hear when you drop by the Hi-Tone, but one thing’s for sure—you’ll have a great time.
No matter your tastes, one thing is for sure in Memphis: There’s a great venue nearby to help you make some of your own musical history.