Opera Memphis
Sep
23
7:00 PM19:00

Opera Memphis

Opera Memphis is back at the Levitt Shell during this year's 30 Days of Opera! 30 Days of Opera is exactly what it sounds like: 30 days of totally awesome - totally FREE - performances by Opera Memphis all over Memphis and the MidSouth. A fan favorite, our yearly Levitt Shellperformance is full of fun for operaphiles and newbies alike. Think of it as Opera's Greatest Hits with pop music favorites and exciting surprises thrown in for good measure. Bring the whole family and join us for this event - one of the highlights of our year!  

Website

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Stars at the Shell: Lake Street Dive
Sep
29
8:00 PM20:00

Stars at the Shell: Lake Street Dive

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General Admission - $30 Advance/ $35 Day of show 

A special night of Stars at the Shell featuring the rock/soul quartet -- Lake Street Dive!

 

Stars at the Shell is a fundraising event benefiting the Levitt Shell. 

The Levitt Shell is a non-profit presenting 50 free concerts each year.  Our mission is building a stronger Memphis community through free music, finding common ground in a diverse audience.  All proceeds from Stars at the Shell support the free concerts.  We thank you for your support!

LAKE STREET DIVE

Lake Street Dive will release Free Yourself Up, its second album with Nonesuch Records on May 4. The band --drummer Michael Calabrese, bassist Bridget Kearney, singer Rachael Price, and guitarist/trumpeter Michael "McDuck" Olson -- self-produced the album at Goosehead Palace Studios in Nashville with engineer Dan Knobler. Lake Street Dive formed in 2004 while students at New England Conservatory and have been touring non-stop ever since, growing from basement venues like The Lizard Lounge in Boston to selling out Radio City Music Hall in New York City. For this album, the quartet drafted touring keyboardist Akie Bermiss to join them in the studio. Adding another player to the process freed up the band members to explore a wider range of instrumental textures, construct more full-bodied arrangements, and build on their well-known background harmonies. "This album is based in the realities in our time," Kearney reflects, "which have inevitably become part of everyone's daily life. It's something you think about and obsess over -- and write songs about. Free Yourself Up is about empowering yourself, emboldening yourself, no matter what's going wrong.”

A few special notes about this event:

  • Gates open at 6:00pm.

  • Food and beverages (including wine and beer) will be sold at multiple concession stands throughout the area.

  • No outside food, drinks, coolers or pets are allowed at this event.

  • This event is rain or shine.

  • Because this is a fundraiser, no refunds are available.

  • Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome.

  • There are NO reserved seats for this event. It's general admission only.

  • The Levitt Shell is wheelchair accessible.

  • No professional photography, video or audio recording equipment.

  • Kids 12 and under are admitted free with parent or guardian.

 

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Dean Owens & The Whiskey Hearts
Oct
4
7:00 PM19:00

Dean Owens & The Whiskey Hearts

Celtic spirit, Country soul
Dean Owens is one Scotland’s finest singer/songwriters. Armed with a searingly soulful voice, skillfully crafted stories and memorably heart-twisting melodies, he is a compelling and engaging live performer, with an emotional hurricane of stories and songs. His band, The Whisky Hearts, is a mighty all star line-up who can rock up a storm, with subtle flashes of roots and twang.

Website | Facebook

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Squirrel Nut Zippers
Oct
5
7:00 PM19:00

Squirrel Nut Zippers

The Squirrel Nut Zippers began their musical journey in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the mid 1990's, as a musician's escape from the cookie cutter world of modern rock radio at the time. Jimbo Mathus along with drummer/percussionist Chris Phillips formed the band as a casual musical foray among friends and family in the area. It wasn't long before the band's quirky mix of Jazz chords, Folk music, and Punk Rock leanings spread out of the region and attracted a national audience.
 

Website | Facebook

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Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience,
Oct
11
7:00 PM19:00

Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience,

For 35 years, two- time GRAMMY award winning artist Terrance Simien, 8th generation Louisiana Creole has been shattering the myths about what his indigenous Zydeco roots music is and is not. Leading his Zydeco Experience band, Simien has become one of the most respected and accomplished artists in American roots music today. He and his band mates have performed over 7000 concerts, toured millions of miles to over 45 countries during their eventful career.

Website | Facebook

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Bette Smith
Oct
12
7:00 PM19:00

Bette Smith

Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Bette Smith reconnected with her musical roots in Memphis and Mississippi – and fulfilled a promise to her late brother in the process. Recording her debut full-length album in Mississippi brought her to the roots of the gospel she sang in the church and the soul music she heard on the block on hot summer nights growing up on the corner of Nostrand and Fulton. The powerful ‘Jetlagger’ came out Fall 2017 on Big Legal Mess, a Fat Possum subsidiary. “The south came to me and grabbed me and pulled me down there. The southern migration came up and got me. My neighbors in Bed-Stuy influenced me,” she says.

Website

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Walden
Oct
13
7:00 PM19:00

Walden

Four friends from Athens, Georgia have started a revolution in rock music. Driven by passion and purpose, the band Walden seeks to evoke emotion and inspiration through their music and live performance. To do so, these young men have stripped away every stigma and stereotype associated with playing in a rock band to focus on what actually matters: the music, the message, and the people. Four guys with nothing but a passion for playing shows and creating music quickly became one of the biggest upcoming musical acts in Georgia, capturing the attention of audiences of all ages with their raw sound, infectious energy, and undeniable connection they share on stage. 

Walden's live performance truly shone when they won the 2017 Road to Bonnaroo competition for the state of Georgia. This competition generated a passionate and supportive following for the band in their hometown of Athens, GA . As a result of their growing popularity, Walden has also had the opportunity to open for well known acts such as Moon Taxi and Twiddle and further grow their fan base. These successes amount to nothing more than a stepping stone towards these four friends achieving their actual goal of playing and creating music together for the rest of their lives.

Website | Facebook

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Las Cafeteras
Oct
14
7:00 PM19:00

Las Cafeteras

In 2005, rooted in community & tradition, a group of students learning Son Jarocho music became known as ‘Los Cafeteros,’ named after the Eastside Cafe community center, which 2 members helped found.  They soon changed their name to Las Cafeteras to honor the feminine spirit of the group. Without intending to, they organically evolved from student-group into a performance group aimed at sharing Afro-Mexican music from Southern Veracruz, Mexico in their neighborhoods.

Over the years, Las Cafeteras would develop a genre-bending sound & electric live performance infusing lyrically rich storytelling with the purpose of sharing the hidden stories of migrant life in Los Angeles.  Las Cafeteras, who grew up in Los Angeles, were inspired not only from Mexican music, but from rock, reggae, hip-hop and Motown.  For Las Cafeteras, it was essential to use music as a way to build bridges among the different cultures and communities that historically have had tension.  Through music, Las Cafeteras were trying to help build ‘a world where many worlds fit.’

As Native and migrant children who are remixing roots music, the Las Cafeteras sound was brought to life by 4 distinct vocalist and their eclectic instrumentation, including jaranas, a donkey jawbone, a West African bass instrument, cajón, and a wooden platform used to dance Zapateado.  Their 1st album, “Live at Mucho Wednesday” was a recording at the famous, “La Cita” Bar in Downtown LA.  After receiving local praise for a raw and authentic sound that could not be replicated, Las Cafeteras jumped into the studio to do what no one ever thought they would do … record a real record.

The success of their first studio album “It’s Time” launched the band to new heights, placing them on stages with Mexican icons Café Tacuba, Lila Downs, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s & the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.  They’ve since toured North America from the Santa Barbara Bowl in California to the Lincoln Center in New York; from the Montreal Jazz Festival to WOMAD Festival in the UK.

Las Cafeteras released their highly anticipated new album in the Spring of 2017.  Las Cafeteras play music with the spirit that can only be explained through an ancient African Proverb, “if you can walk, you can dance, and if you can talk you can sing.”

Website | Facebook

 

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Kelley Anderson and the Crystal Shrine
Oct
18
7:00 PM19:00

Kelley Anderson and the Crystal Shrine

Kelley Anderson is an artist based in Memphis, TN. The imagery and ideas in her work conjure up Gram parson’s “cosmic American music” – a blend of blues, country, and gritty rock’n’roll blended into a sound that is uniquely her own. Anderson uses her experience in sound engineering to create wide sonic textures, incorporating those soundscapes into more traditional song structures of the American musical canon. 

Ever an innovator, she founded the Southern Girls Rock Camp and Youth Empowerment through Arts & Humanities (YEAH!), an organization that helps young people find their power through music. Prior to her current work, Anderson founded and toured internationally with the band Those Darlins, releasing two full-length albums and several singles with the group.

Website

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John Fullbright
Oct
19
7:00 PM19:00

John Fullbright

John Fullbright got his start at the legendary Blue Door listening room in Oklahoma City. It was there that he recorded a live album and found his base, opening for many other writers including fellow Oklahomans Kevin Welch and Jimmy Webb. His 2012 studio debut, From the Ground Up, received a Grammy nomination for Americana Album of the Year, and later that year he won ASCAP’s Harold Adamson Award for lyric writing. In 2014, John released the critically acclaimed Songs, toured all over America and the UK, and appeared on Late Night with David Letterman.

Website | Facebook

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Film and Music Night: The Wizard of Oz
Oct
20
7:00 PM19:00

Film and Music Night: The Wizard of Oz

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Dorothy Gale is swept away from a farm in Kansas to a magical land of Oz in a tornado and embarks on a quest with her new friends to see the Wizard who can help her return home to Kansas and help her friends as well.

Join us on the lawn for family friendly activities, film, and fun under the stars.

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Nefesh Mountain
Oct
21
7:00 PM19:00

Nefesh Mountain

Nefesh Mountain is the place where Bluegrass and Old-Time music meet with Jewish heritage and tradition. Husband and Wife team Eric Lindberg & Doni Zasloff are the pioneers of this new blend of spiritual American music and bring their unique knowledge and passion for these beautiful worlds to the fore with songs in English and Hebrew alike.

Website

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Low Cut Connie
Sep
20
7:00 PM19:00

Low Cut Connie

Low Cut Connie is a rock and roll band based in Philadelphia, PA. The band has been recognized for their high-energy live show, of which the Los Angeles Weekly said, "Their ferocious live show...is unmatched in all of rock right now." They were recently called “the essence of what rock n roll should be” by Greg Kot (Sound Opinions / NPR) and the New York Times has said “their live show is a phenomenon.”

Website | Facebook

 

 

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Those Pretty Wrongs
Sep
16
7:00 PM19:00

Those Pretty Wrongs

Those Pretty Wrongs are Jody Stephens and Luther Russell, two old friends and veterans of the music scene in different ways. Jody was the drummer for the legendary band Big Star and now helps run equally legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis. Luther Russell was the leader of seminal roots-rock band The Freewheelers and is now an acclaimed solo artist and producer.

It was the documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me that brought Jody and Luther together creatively, when Jody asked Luther to join him for some promo performances. A chemistry was immediately noticed. They began writing songs and performing them whenever possible, soon taking their name from the opening line of Shakespeare Sonnet 41, which they slipped into one of their first collaborations, “Fool Of Myself”. Burger Records released the first track they cut in Memphis, “Lucky Guy”, with “Fool Of Myself” as the flip side. There was an outpouring of support for the new music, which gave Jody and Luther the confidence to move forward.

Website | Facebook

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Black Umfolosi
Sep
13
7:00 PM19:00

Black Umfolosi

Black Umfolosi were formed in 1982 by school friends in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, who named themselves after the Umfolozi Omnyama River in South Africa- to where their ancestors can be traced. In 2009 The Black Umfolosi 5 continue to present their spectacular songs and dances thrilling audiences worldwide with a NEW LINE-UP.

Their performances are energy driven and completely engaging, mixing a great gentleness of spirit and song with an exuberance in dance. Their trademark harmonies mixed with intricate rhythms, clicking and clapping are highlighted during their brilliantly choreographed shows with a full range of movements from subtle to vibrant stomping and leaping! Their famous Gumboot Dances showcase the traditional styles and rituals of the South African mining regions and are a particular crowd pleaser.

“Their music is fresh and surprising, with typical intricate rhythms, unusual harmonies and interspersed clicking, clapping and shouting, which combine to produce a natural funky and rugged aura” THE ROUGH GUIDE

“It was the best of all the festival, They have an incredible way to sing, to dance, a beautiful presence on the stage. Their simplicity, naturalness and cheerfulness was for us, at the end of the festival a beautiful present. MILAN FESTIVAL JULY 2007

“Their singing is a marvellous blend of rhythm, melody and harmony welded together with enormous complexity, but ending up with a sound that is acting simplicity” F ROOTS

"Marvellous harmonies, spine-tingling gospel singing and bare-torsoed, hard-hatted gumboot dancing” GLASGOW HERALD

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Reba Russell Band
Sep
9
7:00 PM19:00

Reba Russell Band

Reba Russell is a name synonymous with the Memphis Music scene. Beginning early in the 1980’s (with band’s Visions, Portrait, and Reba and the Portables) and now currently fronting the Reba Russell Band, Reba has covered most bases in the music industry. She is a published songwriter, vocalist, guitarist, backing vocalist, bandleader and producer, as well as a touring and recording artist.

Reba Russell and her band tour throughout the United States and Europe and have released 8 Independent Albums. She is a highly respected Memphis studio/session vocalist but she is perhaps more popularly known as a powerful live performer.

The list of credits for recording artists that Reba has performed backing vocals in session for is vast. A few notable credits are; U2 (When Love Comes to Town, BB King/ Bono). Class of 55 Homecoming featuring: Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins. Huey Lewis and the News, album; Soulsville. A few Local/Blues/Regional acts include; Tracy Nelson, Jim Dickinson, Sid Selvidge, and Lucero.

The Memphis Chapter of NARAS awarded a Premier Player Award for vocals to Reba in both 1998 and 1999. She was also named an Emissary of Memphis Music by the Memphis Shelby County Music Commission in 2009.  In 2011, Reba Russell was nominated for the Koko Taylor Vocal Award by the Blues Foundation during their annual Blues Music Awards Show in Memphis.

For over 35 years Reba Russell has performed in almost every venue, studio and event around the Memphis area and continues to be a stalwart of the Memphis Music Scene.

Website 

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Meta & the Cornerstones
Sep
8
7:00 PM19:00

Meta & the Cornerstones

Meta and the Cornerstones fuse afro-Pop, hip-hop, rock and soul with an international mixture of vocals. This synthesis of reggae and soul with powerful lyrics and feel-good melodies creates something that transcends oceans, borders, and language barriers. Consisting of seven members who are as diverse as their music, each brings their own unique background to create a unifying and soul-pounding experience for audiences.

“The future of reggae music”, Nat Geo Music

“My music is about peace, love and harmony. It is the language of the free soul.” Meta Dia

Website 

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Orquesta Akokán
Sep
7
7:00 PM19:00

Orquesta Akokán

Daptone Records is proud to introduce Orquesta Akokán, a big band collective of Havana’s top musicians both young and old,  joining forces with some of the most creative and spirited talents of New York’s Latin music scene. Born out of a shared vision by singer José "Pepito" Gómez, producer Jacob Plasse, and arranger Michael Eckroth, the group reinvigorates the sound of the golden era of Cuban mambo with a bold new energy.

Akokán is a Yoruba word used by Cubans to mean “from the heart” or “soul”, so it comes as no surprise that a recording like this would find its way back to Brooklyn’s Daptone Records. For nearly a generation, the venerable label has brought us soulful music in a myriad of styles, made in the present, but with all the craft and flavor of the classic recordings of the past. In doing so Daptone has enshrined both the genres it honors as well as artists creating new works in the universal canon of dance music. A perfect kitchen from which to serve this captivating baile between old and new, performed with rhythm, with care, and above all, con akokán.

 Website | Facebook

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Devon Gilfillian
Sep
6
7:00 PM19:00

Devon Gilfillian

Due to weather from Tropical Storm Gordon, the season opening show at the Levitt Shell with Devon Gilfillian has been moved to Minglewood Hall for the safety of everyone. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to have this show at the wonderful Minglewood Hall!

A few notes regarding the show:

  • Music is still FREE :-).
  • Free parking is available in the Minglewood lots.
  • Doors open at 6PM. Show is at 7PM.
  • Donations are always welcome.
  • All ages show.
  • No pets are allowed.
  • Blankets and chairs are welcome.
  • No outside food or drink allowed. Items will be available for purchase onsite with food trucks and in the big room at Minglewood hall.  Food purchased at the food tucks may be brought in the big room at Minglewood hall but not beverages. Beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and food will also be available for purchase in the big room.

The Artist:

Devon Gilfillian fires twin barrels of gospel-blues and southern soul on his debut EP. Fueled by groove, guitar, and the powerful punch of Gilfillian's voice, the songs shine a light on a young songwriter who grew up outside of Philadelphia, absorbing everything from the R&B swagger of Al Green and Ray Charles to the rock & roll heroics of Jimi Hendrix. Now based in Nashville, Gilfillian puts a personalized stamp on those childhood influences, rolling them into five original songs that showcase not only his songwriting and singing, but also his talent as an instrumentalist. 

Website | Facebook

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Event Rental: Stone Soul Picnic
Sep
1
12:00 PM12:00

Event Rental: Stone Soul Picnic

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WLOK STONE SOUL PICNIC TO FEATURE GOSPEL GREATS

                                     (44th Annual Event Embraces Unity Theme)

Memphis, TN -- More than a dozen of the nation’s leading gospel singers and local gospel greats will star in the 44th annual WLOK Stone Soul Picnic from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, September 1, at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park.

The Stone Soul Picnic is one of the oldest and largest free outdoor concerts in the Mid-South, with entertainment and fun for the entire family. The event has evolved into one of Memphis’ musical cornerstones since its founding in 1974 as a tribute to music-loving Memphians and their support for WLOK radio.

The 2018 Stone Soul Picnic takes on a new dimension this year, adopting the theme of community unity tied to the glorious and heartfelt sounds of pure gospel.

“Through the WLOK Stone Soul Picnic, we seek to create an understanding and appreciation for those cultural and sociopolitical differences within our community in an effort to develop a more harmonious city and nation,” said Art Gilliam, the president and chief executive officer of WLOK Radio and the Gilliam Foundation.

The day-long 2018 WLOK Stone Soul Picnic is a family event that will feature gospel favorites including Doc McKenzie & the Hi-Lites, the Echoaires, Billy Rivers & the Angelic Voices of Faith, and the Sensational Wells Brothers. Other featured artists include the Southern Sons, Uncle Richard’s Puppets, the Gospel Four, Bishop Cooper, and Spiritual Excitement.

The event also will feature food vendors, rides for children, health screenings, and a voter-registration booth. More than 100 prizes will be given to attendees, with many of them valued for as much as $100.

WLOK is a Memphis, Tenn.-based radio station that broadcasts a gospel format on both AM and FM channels under AM 1340 and FM 105. For any questions or communications regarding this event, please contact Art Gilliam, 901- 527-9565, or wlokradio@aol.com

    LINE UP

 

Noon:     OPENING PRAYER, NATIONAL  ATHEM – BRENDA JOHNSON, LIFT  EVERY VOICE AND SING – TAMARA  TOWNSEND, NEW  ERA  BAPTIST  CHURCH

12:20:      SOUTHWIND CHOIR

12:35:      SAIAH,  THE  GUITAR  BABY

12:40:     BEVERLY  WHITE

1:00:       SPIRITUAL EXCITEMENT

1:25:        KELLY  &  KELLY

1:45:       BISHOP  COOPER

2:05:      MEMPHIS  BAPTIST  MINISTERIAL  ASSOCIATION W/PASTOR  FRANK  RAY

2:35:       SENSATIONAL  WELLS  BROTHERS

3:00 :     BILLY  RIVERS  &  THE  ANGELIC  VOICES  OF  FAITH

3:30 :     ECHOAIRES

4:00:     TENNESSEE  MASS  CHOIR

4:25:      SOUTHERN SONS

5:00:      UNCLE  RICHARD’S  PUPPETS

5:40:      GOSPEL  FOUR

6:15:       DOC  MCKENZIE  &  THE  HI-LITES

For any questions or communications regarding this event, please contact Art Gilliam, 901- 527-9565, or wlokradio@aol.com.

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REI presents Liz Cooper & the Stampede
Aug
4
6:00 PM18:00

REI presents Liz Cooper & the Stampede

REI Memphis is celebrating in anticipation of our new store opening... AND the fun is on us during REI Play Days! Join us in Overton Park at the Levitt Shell on the evening of Saturday August 4th to rock out to Liz Cooper and The Stampede - we've teamed up with our friends at the Levitt Shell to keep the music going for a special free concert. Liz Cooper & The Stampede are a three-piece American rock band from Nashville, Tennessee. NPR describes their music as "a seamless balance of muted rhythmic sounds and propulsive drive that feels so good". Event starts 6PM, music will kick-off at 7:30PM! Questions? Call us on the REI Play Days Hotline! 901-701-7233

Website

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Peterson Brothers
Jul
15
7:30 PM19:30

Peterson Brothers

The Peterson Brothers combine youthful energy and modern influences with old-school blues, soul and funk to a create a sound that is uniquely their own. Their live shows feature jam-band style improvisation.

Led by Glenn Jr., 21 and Alex, 18, the Peterson Brothers have toured throughout the United States, and had the opportunity to play with and open for the likes of Gary Clark Jr., Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Buddy Guy, the late B.B. King and other musical greats. They have also played festivals throughout the U.S., including the Chicago Blues Festival, Minnesota State Fair, Riverbend Festival, Austin City Limits Festival, Ogden Roots and Blues, King Biscuit Festival, Old Settler’s Music Fest, Kerrville Folk Festival, Lancaster Blues & Roots, Allentown Blues, Brews & Barbecue, and many more.

With a standing room only weekly residency at Austin’s famed music hall, The Continental Club, the Peterson Brothers have been referred to as, “The future of Austin music” by Mark Murray of Sun Radio, and “Some of the most talented musicians I have seen come out of Austin” by Jamfeed.

"The Peterson brothers, two barely-legal sibling guitarists from Texas, played one
 of the funkiest, most fun headline sets the festival has seen.” -The Morning Call

“You can’t help but smile when you watch them play” -Texas Lifestyle Magazine

“Their set was bristling with fun and infectious energy” -Austin360.com

“The Peterson Brothers Band  just rolled into Houston and killed
 it with blues, funk and some good ol rock n roll....” -Hanks Americana Radio

“The Peterson Brothers delivered an amazing blues and R&B set
 that was part Isaac Hayes, part Stevie Ray Vaughan and part Stanley Clarke.”
-Twangville.com

“The only thing missing from the Peterson Brothers Band is the
 word "amazing" at the front of the name.” -San Antonio Express-News

Website | Facebook

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Sammy Miller & The Congregation
Jul
14
7:30 PM19:30

Sammy Miller & The Congregation

Sammy Miller and The Congregation are on a mission to put the generosity back into jazz and bring art back to the people.

We play joyful jazz -- music that feels good. It is a style that entertains, enriches, but most of all uplifts.

A native of Los Angeles, Grammy®-nominated drummer Sammy Miller has become known for his unique maturity and relentless focus on making music that feels good as a drummer, singer and bandleader. Upon completing his Master's at The Juilliard School, Sammy formed his ensemble, The Congregation. As a band, they are focused on sharing the power of community through their music -- joyful jazz.

Arts Nova selected The Congregation for the 'Makers Lab' in 2017 to produce their original theater jazz show, "Great Awakening." While independently the band members have performed and recorded with notable artists including Wynton Marsalis, Iron and Wine, and Jason Mraz at venues including the White House, Lincoln Center and the Hollywood Bowl, they have opted to stick together to spread joy throughout the world.

Website | Facebook

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Stars at the Shell: Robert Cray
Jul
13
6:00 PM18:00

Stars at the Shell: Robert Cray

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General Admission - $25 Advance/ $30 Day of show 

A special night of Stars at the Shell featuring the Blues/Soul/R&B legend Robert Cray, with special guest Cedric Burnside! 

BUY TICKETS

Stars at the Shell is a fundraising event benefiting the Levitt Shell. 

The Levitt Shell is a non-profit presenting 50 free concerts each year.  Our mission is building a stronger Memphis community through free music, finding common ground in a diverse audience.  All proceeds from Stars at the Shell support the free concerts.  We thank you for your support!

ROBERT CRAY

Robert Cray has been bridging the lines between blues, soul and R&B for the past four decades, with five Grammy wins and over 20 acclaimed albums. Cray became a sensation, leading his band in concerts at large arena and rock festivals. He was the first African-American artist since Jimi Hendrix to rise to such fame in rock music. Over his illustrious career, Cray has performed with Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, B.B.King, Bonnie Raitt and many more. His latest project, Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm, the Blues Hall of Famer traveled to Memphis to make a classic soul album with Hi Rhythm, the band that helped create that sound. 

A few special notes about this event:

  • Gates open at 6:00pm.  Cedric Burnside at 7:00pm and Robert Cray at 8:30pm.
  • Food and beverages (including wine and beer) will be sold at multiple concession stands throughout the area.
  • No outside food, drinks, coolers or pets are allowed at this event.
  • This event is rain or shine.
  • Because this is a fundraiser, no refunds are available.
  • Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome. 
  • There are NO reserved seats for this event. It's general admission only.
  • The Levitt Shell is wheelchair accessible.
  • No professional photography, video or audio recording equipment.
  • Kids 12 and under are admitted free with parent or guardian.  

Food Trucks:

Central BBQ, Kebab, DeJavu, and Slider Inn! Plus MemPOPs will have popsicles to cool off and the Tapbox will be selling water, soft drinks, beer, wine, and mixed drinks.

 

Sponsored By:

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JD McPherson
Jul
12
7:30 PM19:30

JD McPherson

Undivided Heart & Soul (2017)

“I was having nightmares every night, thinking, ‘Wow, they’re going to hate this,” says JD
McPherson.

When he talks about his new album, Undivided Heart & Soul, there’s no glimmer of self-adulation, or even the confidence one might expect of a veteran artist. Instead, there’s a snapshot of McPherson’s creative process bringing the record to life, a journey filled with fear and change, then boldness, and, eventually, catharsis.

The best rock music has a story to tell. This record chronicles a series of upheavals, frustrations, roadblocks, and kismet—a cross-country move, failed creative relationships, a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity, and learning to love making music again by letting go.

McPherson calls moving his family from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, to East Nashville a decision based “on opportunity” and one he was reluctant to make but notes the profound influence the city has had on his new crop of songs.

“Up to this point, I thought I knew what I was doing with songwriting, that I don’t do this or that,” McPherson says. “Writing with people who co-write for a living…maybe I saw myself as John Henry, and them as the steel-driving machine.”

Along with collaborations with fellow Oklahoman Parker Millsap, Butch Walker, and Aaron Lee Tasjan, McPherson’s selections for Undivided Heart & Soul include many deeply personal themes: “Let’s Get Out of Here While We’re Young” shares writing credits with longtime bandmate Ray Jacildo and McPherson’s wife Mandy. He also delved into character profiles, both fictional and based on real-life experiences, stories McPherson has held onto but never thought of as fodder for songwriting, such as the Las Vegas bus station interlude detailed in “Style (Is a Losing Game).”

“That seems like a pretty normal thing for a singer-songwriter to do, to write about personal experience, but I really have never done that,” McPherson says. “It felt great but it also was tough at the same time. The thing is, John Henry is trying to beat the machine because he’s in awe of it. It was a lot of me saying, ‘You’re really good at this, and I have a hard time doing it.’”

With a group of soul-baring tracks taking shape, McPherson and crew scheduled studio time to help force the issue. It quickly became apparent that these sessions were not going to work, bringing McPherson’s momentum to a halt.

To clear his head, he flew to Los Angeles at the invitation of friend and longtime supporter Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, who was also recording at the time. McPherson, Homme, and his Queens bandmate Dean Fertita played around with some songs, with Homme pushing McPherson outside of his comfort zone in a no-stakes environment.

“His thing was, ‘I’m going to throw all kinds of crap onto your songs that you’re not going to want to hear, and you’re going to play ridiculous stuff you wouldn’t normally do,’ and Dean was kind of the calming presence,” McPherson says.

McPherson calls the getaway “the most fun I’ve had since I was 15 years old” and returned to Nashville with a clear head, internal filters successfully stifled, ready to move forward.

That fresh perspective in tow, McPherson learned that the long-shot “backup” studio, the legendary RCA Studio B in Nashville, was willing to host his band for the making of the record. RCA Studio B was fundamental to the creation of the “Nashville Sound,” and the ghosts of some of the greatest songs in history live within its walls: Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” and Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” among them.

Artists who choose to record at Studio B are met with a rigorous list of requirements, including using a recording method appropriate during the studio’s heyday. Since the studio is a working museum by day, the entirety of McPherson’s workspace had to be reset at night: Load in all equipment in the late afternoon, work until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., and leave no trace nightly. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

“Those rules would probably turn a lot of bands off, but they turned us on, 100 percent,” McPherson says. “I really love walking into a classic studio as much as I love getting my hands on a really old guitar. I like knowing that something was used for a long time and has good things in it.”

But this isn’t an old Nashville record, by any measurement, nor is it the record McPherson set out to make, with credit due to co-producer Dan Molad (also the drummer for Lucius).

“There’s a pretty broad gap in our tastes, what we do and what we’re into,” McPherson says. Where he’s as likely to lean on The Cramps as he is Irma Thomas for inspiration, Molad’s left-field production suggestions included a Casio synthesizer and running a Fender Rhodes through a tape delay. (McPherson nixed the former; the latter became the signature sound of one of the record’s tracks.) “We ended up learning a lot from each other, and he did a lot of stuff I’d have never thought to do.”

During the song “Let’s Get Out of Here While We’re Young,” JD sputters the line “We’ve worn out all the songs we’ve sung.” This is not a statement McPherson takes lightly.

“This record was difficult for me to make, difficult to write, difficult to record. It took a lot for me to say that I can’t force these songs to be the way people are expecting,” McPherson says.

Undivided Heart & Soul is a statement record, one that asserts McPherson as he is now, battle-weary but stronger than ever. 

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Yemen Blues
Jul
8
7:30 PM19:30

Yemen Blues

The Yemen Blues Trio presents the group's songs with a strong focus on super danceable heavy groove and outstanding musicians from NYC and Tel Aviv. This 90 minute show also features the great vocalist and performer, Ravid Kahalani, described in National Geographic as "ridiculously charismatic", who delivers the deep, authentic and extreme soulful sounds and movements he is known for around the world. He is joined,  on Oud by the phenomenal, Shanir Blumenkranz who helps bring this to the highest levels of beautiful music, and one of several world class drummers who regularly tour with Yemen Blues.

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Seratones
Jul
7
7:30 PM19:30

Seratones

Get Gone, the potent debut album by the Shreveport, Louisiana natives in Seratones, makes a strong case that this little-known corner of the state is fertile ground, musically speaking. A.J. Haynes (vocals), Connor Davis (guitar), Adam Davis (bass) and Jesse Gabriel (drums) serve up a combination of Southern musicality, garage rock ferocity, and general badassery.

Haynes’s powerful singing voice, first honed at Brownsville Baptist Church in Columbia, Louisiana at age 6, rings across every track. Davis’s bass and Gabriel’s playing propel every song with the grit, energy, and rawness of punk, the feeling of soul, and occasionally, a little jazz swing. The other Davis offers a clinic in guitar riffs, from swaggering blues to searing interstellar leads.

Recorded at Dial Back Sound studios in Mississippi, Get Gone is all live takes, a portrait of the Seratones in their element. Add the soul and swagger of a juke joint with the electricity coursing through a basement DIY show, and you’d begin to approach the experience of seeing this foursome live. The well-paced, multi-faceted set showcases a band dedicated to sonic exploration. “Don’t Need It,” which opens with a muscular swing and tight guitar lines, builds into a monster finish with a nasty corkscrew of a guitar line. “Sun,” a brawny thrasher, courses with huge, raw voltage riffs. “Chandelier,” a mid-tempo burner and vocal workout by Haynes, goes from croon to a crescendo that would shake any crystals hanging from the rafters.

Shared history in the city’s music scene brought the Seratones together a few years ago. All four had played together with one or another in various local punk bands, bonding through all-ages basement shows, gigs at skate parks and BBQ joints, and late nights listening to jazz and blues records. In a city of multiple genres, no fixed musical identity and a flood of cover bands, these adventurous musicians carved out their own path, personifying the do-it-yourself ethos. The group was quickly recognized after forming, winning the Louisiana Music Prize in 2013.

“Shreveport is always shifting its identity,” says Haynes. “You can do a lot of different things when it seems like every band is its own genre.”

Seratones’s music, created with collaborative songwriting and spontaneous creativity, is certainly their own, due perhaps in part to Shreveport’s unique sonic geography. The city sits at a nexus roughly equidistant from Memphis soul, Mississippi Delta Blues, and New Orleans jazz, with Texas swing located just over the nearby state border. The band’s sound draws from those touch points and more, ranging from Black Sabbath’s Paranoid to Kind of Blue. They’ll happily connect the dots between Ornette Coleman and Jello Biafra.

Seratones have different names for the amalgamation of styles found on their debut: Their own “expression of freedom,” music that’s “all about waking people up,” a safe space to feel what you want. However you choose to describe it, Get Gone is unexpected and unbowed, a head-snapping showcase of the twin pillars of Southern music, restlessness and resourcefulness.

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Rev. Sekou
Jul
6
7:30 PM19:30

Rev. Sekou

Noted activist, theologian, author, documentary filmmaker, and musician, Reverend Osagyefo Sekou was born in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in the rural Arkansas Delta. Rev. Sekou's music is an unique combination of North Mississippi Hill Country Music, Arkansas Delta Blues, Memphis Soul and Pentecostal steel guitar. In May 2017, he released "In Times Like These” produced the six-time Grammy nominated North Mississippi Allstars. AFROPUNK heralded the ”deep bone-marrow-level conviction” of his first album, “The Revolution Has Come”. The single, “We Comin'”--was named the new anthem for the modern Civil Rights movement by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  A consummate entertainer,  Paste Studio celebrated his barn-burning performance saying: "Rev. Sekou delivers the spiritual performance we need now."

A leading public intellectual, Rev. Sekou is releasing 5 books with Chalice Press—a publisher of progressive religious thought. Chalice Press is republishing Rev. Sekou's "Urbansouls: Meditations on Youth, Hip Hop, and Religion" and "Gods, Gays, and Guns: Essays on Religion and the Future of Democracy". His new titles are "The Task of the Artist in the Time of Monsters"; "This Ain't Yo' Daddy's Civil Rights Movement: Ferguson, Black Lives Matter and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr";  and "A Liberation Theology of Ferguson"; He has written widely on the 2011 killing of Mark Duggan by British police and the subsequent London riots, and is the author of the forthcoming "Riot Music: Race, Hip Hop and the Meaning of the London Riots 2011" (Hamilton Books). 

 

Rev. Sekou was a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Education and Research Institute at the time of Michael Brown Jr.’s killing, and traveled to Ferguson in mid-August 2014 on behalf of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (the country’s oldest interfaith peace organization) to organize alongside local and national groups. With the Deep Abiding Love Project, he has helped trained over five thousands activists in militant nonviolent civil disobedience through the United States.  He spent 6 weeks on the ground in Charlotteville, VA training clergy in response to the Unite the Right rally. 

Reverend Sekou is featured in Orlando de Guzman’s 2015 documentary film Ferguson: A Report from Occupied Territory. He was arrested multiple times during the Ferguson Uprising, including for ‘Praying while Black’ outside the Ferguson Police Department in September, alongside over 40 clergy, faith leaders and community members during the 500-strong Moral Monday protest during last year’s Ferguson October convergence, and, more recently, on Moral Monday 2015, as part of more than 50 people and faced federal charges following a sit-in at the Department of Justice. In February 2016, Reverend Sekou stood trial for his first arrest in Ferguson and was found not guilty. In May 2015, Reverend Sekou moved back to St. Louis to focus on organizing against police violence, predatory court systems, and economic and social injustice.

His documentary short film, Exiles in the Promised Land is based on his visit to a refugee camp and lecture in Beirut, Lebanon. It was selected for the Amnesty International Human Rights Film Festival (2009).  Having studied continental philosophy at the New School, systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary, and religion at Harvard University, Rev. Sekou has lectured widely, including at Princeton University, Harvard Divinity School, the University of Virginia, University of Paris IV - La Sorbonne, and Vanderbilt University, and is a former Professor of Preaching in the Graduate Theological Urban Studies Program at the Seminary Consortium of Urban Pastoral Education, Chicago, IL. Rev. Sekou was selected by Ebony Magazine’s Power 100, NAACP History Makers (2015), and on the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 100 –list of creative thinkers. He received the Keeper of the Flame Award from the National Voting Rights Institute and Museum in Selma, AL, and was appointed a Associate Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies.

Reverend Sekou served as Pastor for Formation and Justice at First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, Boston. He was formerly Senior Pastor of Lemuel Haynes Congregational Church in Queens, served as Special Assistant on Social Justice to the Bishop for the Church of God in Christ, Senior Community Minister at New York’s Judson Memorial Church, and Social Justice Minister at Middle Collegiate Church, New York. He has been Fellow-in-Residence at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, and as Ella Baker Fellow at New York Theological Seminary's Micah Institute, he served as a strategist organizing clergy for economic justice in New York City.

He is a founding national coordinator for Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq (CALC-I), which represented over 300 faith-based institutions and organizations working to end the war in Iraq. In 2006, CALC-I led a civil disobedience at the White House at which more than 350 people were arrested, including sixty religious leaders. Reverend Sekou was a delegate to the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010. was a member of the inaugural Dorothy Cotton Institute Palestinian/Israeli Non-Violence Project’s delegation of US Civil Rights leaders to the West Bank in 2012. Reverend Sekou served as Editor as Chief of Spare Change News, the nation's oldest continuous street newspaper, from 2012-2013.

Reverend Sekou also served on the National Political Hip Hop Convention Platform Committee and was Senior Adviser the 2004 Kucinich Presidential campaign. Following Hurricane Katrina, Reverend Sekou moved to New Orleans, founding the local Interfaith Worker Justice Center.

Rev. Sekou co-led an interfaith delegation to Haiti one month after the tragic earthquake.  He built toilets alongside the Haitian people. Based on a Lecture he delivered in Beirut, Lebanon, his short documentary film, Exiles in the Promised Land: The Quest for Home focuses on the plights of Palestinians, Iraqi, and post-Katrina New Orleans. The film was accepted at the Amnesty International Human Rights Art Festival.  Rev. Sekou was a delegate to the People's World Climate Change Conference in Bolivia. He was a delegate to the Interdependence Day Conferences in Istanbul, Turkey and Berlin, Germany. 

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Jonny P
Jul
5
7:30 PM19:30

Jonny P

“Suppose all music is apple pie,” says Jonny P. “Every genre is apple pie, but soul music is the only one that’s served hot with ice cream on the side.” In just a few years the Bronx-born, Nashville-based singer- songwriter has served up some truly delicious tunes rooted in the sounds of the past but anchored firmly and irrevocably in the present, defined by disarmingly direct arrangements, a superlatively smooth vocal style, and an undying belief in the power of soul. “Soul music should invoke all the emotions. If it’s a crying song, you should be bawling your eyes out. If it’s a happy song, you should be grinning from ear to ear.” 

Jonny P is a soul visionary. In addition to wrapping his first role in the upcoming film by director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal (who won Oscars for The Hurt Locker), a fictionalized chronicle of the Detroit riots of 1967, he released his second EP, Good To You, April 21st. Working with mix engineer Tom Elmhirst (Adele, Frank Ocean, Amy Winehouse), drummer James Gadson (Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, Herbie Hancock) and produced by Goffrey Moore (Momma Rosa: Bryan Blade), Jonny P has crafted a set of songs that showcase his superlatively silky vocals, his declarative melodies, and his less- is-much-more arrangements. Whether he’s posing a simple question (“Just Say I Do”) or promising lifelong devotion (“Good to You”), his music sounds both warmly familiar and vividly innovative.

“If you know anything about soul music,” he says, “you know for sure that it came from the church.” That’s exactly where this son of Jamaican immigrants spent much of his childhood, and that formative experience helped build the foundation for his musical career. “Being in prayer meetings and church services, I was introduced to a style of singing that comes right from the gut. You’d have people singing from their hearts, with a live band improvising on a Sunday morning, extending hymns and using music to embellish their faith. That captivated me. It showed me that music could tap into people’s emotions and help them express something in themselves.” 

Of course, any kid growing up in New York City will be exposed to every kind of music, and just walking down his block in the Bronx gave Jonny P a deep musical education. “Everybody’s got a massive system blasting out of the trunk. All sorts of music got to me and got a hold of me: hip-hop, Latin music, a lot of reggae. I heard it all. As many different colors of people as there are in New York City, that’s how many styles of music I heard as a kid. It was like the streets were talking to me all the time.” Those profound lessons still define his style and sensibility many years later. “Everything that I am, everything that I’m trying to accomplish—I owe every ounce of who I am to New York City. Growing up in the Bronx, you have no limits at all. You feel like you can do everything.” 

Upon arrival in Tennessee, Jonny P worked four jobs at once, driving all over town to earn money. While most music fans would use those commutes to blast their favorite tunes—to sing along with Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson—Jonny P turned the radio off. He sang to himself, drummed on the steering wheel, let his creative mind wander from one idea to the next. Snippets of songs came to him, fragments of melodies or stray rhythms or lines of lyrics. “I have to drive in silence. Some days it’s the only quiet time I have. If an idea sucks, then I’m the only who knows it sucks. If it’s great, only I know it’s great.” 

When a song is finished, he builds a demo at his home in East Nashville, playing all the instruments himself and laying them down one at a time: bass and drums, guitar and piano, then finally voice. “Every single ounce of it is work. I’ll work on a song from 10 o’clock in the morning until 1 AM.” 

This creative process, while time-consuming and laborious, not only weeds out the weaker ideas but results in gracefully minimalist arrangements that are quickly becoming Jonny P’s sonic signature. In 2014 he self-released his debut EP, Right to You (also produced by Goffrey Moore), which introduced him as one of Nashville’s most thrilling new voices, and his new material builds off that strong foundation. 

New songs like “Say I Do” and “It’s Our Time” deploy the fewest instruments possible to convey a dizzying range of complex emotions, from pure joy to measured melancholy. “Stuff that’s happening in society means it’s a tough time to be in this business, but as an artist it’s a great time to be alive. You don’t have to search far to find heart-grabbing things that need to be said.” 

Jonny P has a clear vision of how soul music can sound and what it can do in the 21st century. He’s no revivalist—primarily because he doesn’t believe soul needs to be revived. “It’s so important to me to add to the story of soul music. I don’t want to create a record that has to go up against Sam Cooke or Otis Redding or anybody like that. If I tried to create some thing that sounds identical to them, I personally would never spin that record. It’s just a moment in time that can’t be re-created. Hopefully I can help carry it forward because more than anything else, soul music is about right now.” 

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Stax Academy
Jun
30
7:30 PM19:30

Stax Academy

This show has become an annual favorite at Levitt Shell. 

The Stax Music Academy Summer Music Experience is a 4-week intensive music program that provides not only music education but also a stable, positive environment for 150 middle and high schoolers. With classes in Stax Records history, songwriting, music production, and music business, students learn how to write and record their own songs, protect their works of art, market themselves using web-based tools and digital media, and gain teamwork and leadership skills while working within a peer group.

The Summer Music Experience culminates with a Grand Finale Concert at your very own Levitt Shell.

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Paul Thorn /Blind Boys of Alabama
Jun
29
7:30 PM19:30

Paul Thorn /Blind Boys of Alabama

The 2018 Levitt National Tour will feature acclaimed Southern raconteur Paul Thorn and his five-piece band as he teams up with five-time GRAMMY-winning Gospel legends, Blind Boys of Alabama, for a one-of-a-kind musical collaboration. Billed as the “Mission Temple Fireworks Revival,” the unprecedented co-headline Levitt National Tour was inspired by Thorn’s 2018 album Don’t Let The Devil Ride—a celebration of the first music Thorn ever experienced, journeying through classic gospel, soul and spirituals, and featuring contributions from Blind Boys of Alabama among other artists. Levitt audiences across the country will experience these exhilarating, soulful shows blending old-school gospel with rock, blues and country.

Paul Thorn has created an innovative and impressive career, pleasing crowds with his muscular brand of roots music – bluesy, rocking and thoroughly Southern American, while speaking universal truths. Raised in Tupelo, Miss., among the same spirits (and some of the actual people) who nurtured the young Elvis generation before, Thorn has rambled down back roads and jumped out of airplanes, worked for years in a furniture factory, battled four-time world champion boxer Roberto Duran on national television, signed with and been dropped by a major label, performed on stages with Bonnie Raitt, Mark Knopfler, Sting, and John Prine among many others, and has made some of the most emotionally restless yet fully accessible music of our time. He’s also appeared on major television shows such as Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, been the subject of numerous National Public Radio (NPR) features and charted multiple times on the Billboard Top 100 and Americana Radio Charts.

Blind Boys of Alabama are recognized worldwide as living legends of gospel music. Celebrated by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) with Lifetime Achievement Awards, inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and winners of five GRAMMY Awards, they have attained the highest levels of achievement in a career that spans almost 80 years. Blind Boys are known for crossing multiple musical boundaries with their remarkable interpretations of everything from traditional gospel favorites to contemporary spiritual material by songwriters such as Eric Clapton, Prince and Tom Waits. They have appeared on recordings with many artists, including Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville, Susan Tedeschi, Ben Harper, Patty Griffin and Taj Mahal. Blind Boys of Alabama have appeared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Late Night with David Letterman, The Grammy Awards, 60 Minutes, The Colbert Report and many other television shows.

Levitt National Tour audiences are in for an electrifying evening of gospel meets blues meets rock!

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Ray Wylie Hubbard
Jun
24
7:30 PM19:30

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Ray Wylie Hubbard writes the kind of songs that make you want to ride along no matter where he’s going, because you know it’s gonna get strange somewhere along the way. Anyone who’s followed him over the long and winding path he has traveled already knows he possesses the kind of exceptional gift for observation that any songwriter yearns for. 

In the 1970s, Ray Wylie Hubbard joined country music "outlaws" Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson as part of the progressive country vanguard on the Texas music scene. Unlike the clean-cut crooners from Nashville, these Austin and Dallas cowboys grew their hair long and added a healthy dose of rock 'n' roll to their music. A leading figure of the progressive country movement, Hubbard is also well-known for authoring the perennial anthem "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother" recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1973.               
                                                           
"And while that song certainly helped launch his career," noted David Goodman in Modern Twang, "its immense popularity has tended to obscure the depth and complexity of Hubbard as a songwriter and musician."

Hubbard's writing became deeply spiritual, dense with allegory and allusion, his musical landscape stalked by preachers with a pistol in one hand and a Bible in the other." Ten albums later, Hubbard has continued to solidify himself as an elder statesman of Texas Music and a songwriter's songwriter. In recent years, his music has found a comfortable place atop the Americana Music Charts where he continues to contribute to one of the most flourishing genres of the century.

Jim Caligiuri noted in the Austin Chronicle that "Hubbard has become one of the best singer-songwriters of our time. Since 1992, he's released a series of albums, each more impressive than the last."

In April 2015 Ray released The Ruffian's Misfortune to mass critical praise and will tour relentlessly in support of the new release. He will also release his autobiography "A Life...Well Lived" later in the year.

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Liz Vice
Jun
23
7:30 PM19:30

Liz Vice

Liz Vice is a musician best known for her Gospel, soul, and R&B-infused album entitled, “There’s A Light”. Raised in Portland, Oregon and a recent resident of Brooklyn, NY. Ms. Vice has performed and/ or shared the stage with artist such as  Cody Chesnutt, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, The Temptations, Lecrae, Eric Early of (Blitzen Trapper), Josh Garrels, The Wood Bothers, Tunde Baiyewu (Lighthouse Family), Luz Mendoza (Y La Bamba), Eshon Burgundy (Humble Beast), and more. 

She has gained recognition as a performing artist being named one to keep an ear out for in such publications such as OPB’s One Song, NPR’s Live Wire, Noise Trade, Relevant Magazine, and Willamette Week.

No matter how large the venue, her genuine approach to her artistry and playful interaction with the audience makes everyone feel like they're sitting at home on the couch watching a friend sing their heart out. 

Having overcome many personal obstacles, she credits her adventurous life to not forcing anything. “It’s all about risk, and taking risk is never regretful…well, most of the time.”

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Mike Farris & The Roseland Rhythm Revue
Jun
22
7:30 PM19:30

Mike Farris & The Roseland Rhythm Revue

There's a hallowed hall, deep within the recesses of the heart, where an amazing truth resides: The power in your life can only be experienced when broken open and shared with the people who come into it.

Back in 2005, Mike Farris cracked open the hallway door when, for the first time since the age of 15, he was clean and sober. Recording what would become the critically acclaimed Salvation in Lights (2007), a resurrected Mike eagerly anticipated the future. But with two ruptured discs, back surgery and the death of his beloved manager Rose McGathy all within a few weeks of the record's release, a rolling fog settled in. And with it, denial.

Nevertheless, Mike's career was picking up steam. He won an Americana Music Award for New/Emerging Artist in 2008, followed by a Dove Award in 2010. His live performances at Bonnaroo, SxSW, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and others-were drawing rave reviews. Revered artists like Rodney Crowell, Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, and Marty Stuart were struck by his incomparable voice, and Mike opened shows for Patti LaBelle, Mavis Staples, Blind Boys of Alabama, Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby.

By 2010, having released the award winning SHOUT! Live followed by an EP for Nashville flood relief efforts, Mike launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his next record, an independent release. His fans generously funded the project.

Serious invitations kept coming: first, to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame's 16th Annual American Music Masters concert honoring Aretha Franklin, then TEDx Nashville, and then to the inaugural Austin City Limits Hall of Fame with Double Trouble.

Mike's spirited, soul-gospel fusion had found an enthusiastic audience, but denial has a way of biting back. Compared to his former life, he thought he was fine, but truth be told, Mike had become addicted to pain medication. The new album would have to take a back seat to a gut-check, life-changing recovery. Mike went to rehab and finally began excavating the root causes of his addiction with the help of support groups at AA and NA. An isolator by nature, he struggled laying all his burdens on the table to complete strangers, but gained encouragement through the stories of others. Each honest step led to fertile, hopeful ground.

What eventually emerged from that fertile ground is Shine For All The People, the evolution of true sobriety, of finding a new identity as a servant, first as a man but also as an artist. "I'd been working on the record before my recovery, and then there was a pretty huge delay," explains Mike, who signed with Compass Records. "I had to back up, take time to grab the ground, to re-acclimate, to learn how to live now, truly sober for the first time since I was a kid."

This new normal included getting back to the process of creating new music, but there was a distinctive trajectory shift in Mike. "So many avenues of music flow through me, 100s of years of music, the music that I grew up with-from Blues, Rock, R&B and gospel-there had always been this pressure to try to force it into a box that would sell somehow. It's crazy and overwhelming at times, the weight of trying to meet expectations and make a living, but this time, that all fell away. I know now that this gift only exists to encourage people in their struggles, and if there's any power in it, it's not from me."

Released in September 2014, Shine For All The People pushes beyond Salvation in Lights in that it reveals hope not in any glory to come, but in the failures and suffering of the present. "My music has always been first and foremost for the downtrodden, the wayward...people who've had to go up the rough side of the mountain. Even when it's upbeat and inspiring, there's always been an element of pain, because truth be told, we're all flawed. Not everybody knows it, but we all are."

From the opening Cuban/St. Louis blues horns of "River Jordan," originally written and performed by Blind Willie McTell, to the divine salvation of J.B. Lenoir's "Jonah & the Whale," to the determined stance of the Rev. C.J. Johnson's "Something Keeps on Telling Me," a chorus/mantra that Mike fleshed out into a song in the months after rehab…one listen, and it's clear there's something mystical in the waters here.

"When I first heard the Rev. C.J. Johnson's version, I could feel the air in that church get still, no music, only the sound of feet on the floor and hands in the air," Mike says. "I got such strength from it, I knew I wanted to add part of my story. With his words as the chorus, and with Brigitte DeMeyer helping me out, the song serves as a compass for anyone who has lost their way."

Mary Gauthier's soul-stirring "Mercy Now," one of the first songs Mike chose for the record, is clearly foundational to the whole. "The song just mystically appeared before me a few months before my Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer," he says. "Not only did it play a major role in just helping me deal with the year that followed, including his death, but brought comfort to my entire family."

Like other choice cuts on Shine For All The People, the songs simply arrived at the appointed time, Mike says. "There was a time when I carried all the songwriting on my shoulders, but then the ego gets in the way of what it should be. These days, I don't have to write everything. I just open the door and these songs show up...songs I need to hear in my struggle, songs I know people need to hear in theirs."

Whether rearranging songs of centuries past or infusing new lyrical life to half-songs, it becomes clear that Mike's vocal gift is simply the surface of a very deep well. Full-tilt originals include "Real Fine Day," a poetic account of the birth of Christian Blue Sky Farris that features some killer Kenny Vaughn guitar hooks-"easily one of the top three days of my life, that day," Mike says, and "Power of Love," an unforgettable, high-energy soul groove and already an audience favorite.

Shine For All the People, the 2015 Grammy Award winner for Best Roots Gospel album, bears witness to the determination of putting one foot in front of the other and to the power of music to get you there. "I've discovered that falling is a divine thing," Mike adds. "It's part and parcel of being human. The important thing is to keep the faith and keep moving on and on. Daring to be courageous enough to share our deepest burdens with each other is the greatest gift we can give."

Discography

  • Goodnight Sun (2002) Independent
  • Salvation In Lights (2007) INO/Columbia Records
  • SHOUT! Live (2009) INO/Columbia Records
  • Live From Westlake Studio B EP (2009) INO/Columbia Records
  • The Night The Cumberland Came Alive EP (2010) eOne Music
  • Shine For All The People (2014) Compass Records

Awards

  • 2008 Americana Music Association's New / Emerging Artist of the Year Award
  • 2010 GMA Dove Award - Traditional Gospel Album of the Year for SHOUT! Live
  • 2015 GRAMMY Award - Best Roots Gospel Album for Shine For All The People

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The Steel Wheels
Jun
21
7:30 PM19:30

The Steel Wheels

“Few groups have come as far in such a short period of time as The Steel Wheels…” – NPR’s Mountain Stage

“What sets The Steel Wheels from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia apart from many bands is the combination of their stellar instrumentals, accentuated by the one of a kind lead vocal of [Trent] Wagler, and keenly supported by strong harmonies. Eric Brubaker on fiddle, Jay Lapp on mandolin, and Brian Dickel on bass weave in and out intricately throughout this record, painting vivid imagery which flows effortlessly, just teasing the lyrics enough to allow them to resonate within you.” - Country Standard Time


Wild As We Came Here, 2017
Hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, The Steel Wheels are familiar with the traditions of folk music and how a string band is supposed to sound. In fact, they’ve been drawing on those steadfast traditions for more than a decade. Yet their name also evokes a sense of forward motion, which is clearly reflected in their latest album, Wild As We Came Here.
 
“I think we’ve always been able to write new songs with different landscapes. However it was really enjoyable for us, creatively and artistically, to depart from the straight-up acoustic sound that we’ve been known for,” says Trent Wagler, who plays guitar and banjo in the band and writes most of the material. “I’m excited to see what happens. There are fans out there who are ready for this and who have been waiting for us to do this.”
 
While on tour supporting Josh Ritter, the band forged a friendship with Sam Kassirer, who plays keyboards for Ritter on tour and has produced a number of his albums. While The Steel Wheels had been considering other producers and maybe recording in Nashville, they chose to follow their instincts all the way to rural Maine, where Kassirer owns a recording studio inside a renovated farmhouse from the 18th century. All four band members – Wagler, Eric Brubaker (fiddle), Brian Dickel (upright bass), and Jay Lapp (mandolin) – hunkered down for a week and a half to create Wild As We Came Here.
 
“It’s a gorgeous set-up,” Wagler says. “I didn’t grow up in a big city and I never made a record in a big city. It’s much more my style, and our style as a band, to completely hole up – probably more than we ever have – for 10 full days in Maine. I left the house for a couple of bike rides but I never went to a restaurant or a store the whole time I was there. We ate on site, we slept on site, and we recorded. It was a very immersive experience, top to bottom.”
 
Afternoon hikes amid the fall foliage helped them clear their heads, ensuring that everyone could stay focused on the task at hand – which in retrospect was quite daunting. The Steel Wheels had about 40 original songs stowed away before the sessions. Only two or three had ever been played live and the band had not arranged any of them.
 
“One of my favorite parts of the process was taking the first couple of days to rehearse and arrange the songs all in one room, with Sam offering his insights,” Brubaker says. “We had enough time to really build the songs from the ground up, examining each one to see what elements would best highlight the mood we were trying to capture.”
 
Wild As We Came Here is a significant leap for the band, which started its journey in 2004. Wagler, Dickel, and Brubaker studied at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, about an hour from Charlottesville. (All four members of the band grew up in Mennonite families.) Wagler and Dickel were in a punk/alternative band until acoustic music lured them in.
 
Wagler soon started crafting songs and learned flat-picking. Dickel took classes on building guitars. They briefly played as a duo before Brubaker joined on fiddle. Lapp eventually came on board after getting to know the band from the local folk circuit. In 2010, following a variety of EPs and LPs, the ensemble officially branded itself as The Steel Wheels, a tip of the hat to steam-powered trains, industrial progress, and the buggies of their Mennonite lineage.
 
Lapp says, “We found we really enjoyed singing and playing music together and it happened so naturally. To make it even better, everyone listens very well to what the other is playing, making it a total group experience. I've never worked with such a collected and well-spoken group of men, and it makes the experience of touring and performing a pure joy.”
 
Then as now, The Steel Wheels’ style weaves through Americana and bluegrass music, folk and old-time music, and the acoustic poetry of the finest singer-songwriters. By incorporating percussion and keyboards into the sessions for the first time, Wild As We Came Here adds new textures to their catalog, as themes of discovery and perseverance run throughout the collection.
 
The album begins with “To the Wild,” which explores the fascinating and unusual relationship that modern society has with the great outdoors, from exploitation to preservation. Wagler wrote the title track after reading a news story about a desperate man who starts bidding at a land auction – even though he had no way of paying for it – in order to prevent oil and gas companies from destroying the natural beauty of the area.
 
Meanwhile, the idea behind “Broken Mandolin” was inspired by a few lines from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the Light We Cannot See, which takes place during World War II. Wagler describes “Take Me to the Ending” as essentially a bluegrass apocalypse – “like a sense of coming out from the bunker and there are still a few people playing fiddle tunes.”
 
Of course, exquisite harmonies remain a strength of the band, shining through on “Sing Me Like a Folk Song.” By making a social statement in uncertain times, listeners will want to lend their voices too. More than a decade into The Steel Wheels’ career, the simple act of singing together – something that carries them back to their Mennonite heritage – is still incredibly special. The stunning closing track, “Till No One Is Free,” provides an elegant ending to the band’s most satisfying album yet.
 
“It was my favorite studio experience from start to finish, by far, of any project we’ve ever done,” Dickel says. “A super-relaxed and experimental vibe coupled with some genre-stretching sounds really did it for me. I think we pushed ourselves much further than previous albums and I think we will push our fans a little too. Both of those are exciting to me.”

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Harlan T Bobo
Jun
17
7:30 PM19:30

Harlan T Bobo

Turning up on the Memphis underground music scene in the late-90’s, Harlan T. Bobo first provided instrumental sideman duties in several local bands, including Viva L’American Death Ray Music, Love Clowns, and The Limes. Then, during the early part of the next decade, Bobo began to take to local stages under his solo guise, performing his own material inspired by personally-topical romantic sagas. Displaying an aptitude for set design and theatrics, Bobo soon amassed a sizeable regional following and gradually won hearts on a national level as Goner Records released his three solo albums of nakedly-emotional, garage-inflected singer-songwriter Americana, 2004/2005’s Too Much Love (initially self-released before picked up by Goner), 2007’s I’m Your Man, and 2010’s Sucker, respectively. Upon their release, the latter two albums received excellent Pitchfork reviews, as well as unanimously positive press across a wide array of other music-coverage outlets. Live shows started becoming visual affairs, with Harlan constructing 100% of the set pieces (angel wings, lighting, etc), and also during this time, Harlan and his music was featured in Craig Brewer’s reality series, $5 Cover, which aired on MTV in 2009. Accurate comparisons to Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave and Wilco have punctuated write-ups of Bobo’s albums and performances, and his albums have benefited from their anomalous nature amongst Goner Records’ more rock-oriented roster and the body of work the label has amassed over its almost 20 years of activity.

 

Having done string arrangements for Cat Power’s breakthrough album, The Greatest, Bobo continued to pursue similar avenues in 2010 and 2011 when he collaborated with The Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s conductor-less “Opus One” offshoot, the brainchild of Bobo-collaborator and longtime MSO cellist and composer Jonathan Kirkscey. Opus One was conceived behind the idea of expanding the Symphony’s local demographic audience, and Harlan’s songs were first suggested due to the compositional ease and harmonious manner for which they would fit together with a chamber orchestra. For Opus One’s 2010 – 2011 season, Harlan’s original songs were classically arranged by the participating MSO players and performed, with Bobo, as chamber pieces in front of non-traditional audiences at Memphis’ premiere underground rock club, The Hi-Tone Café. The collaboration garnered a great deal of glowing press locally and after-the-fact reviews online.

In 2011, Harlan, along with fellow Memphis music notables Jack Oblivian and Shawn Crips’ The Limes, successfully funded a 40-show European “Memphis Revue” style tour through Kickstarter. Having started to split his time between France and Memphis a few years ago (eventually settling in across the pond for good), Harlan T. Bobo continued to perform solo and tour Europe as such, but soon embarked on a different project, a super-group of sorts known as The Fuzz – in 2013. The band, aside from Bobo, is more or less a rotating cast of players including former members of the 90’s scuzz-punk band Action Family (itself with ties to legends Pussy Galore and Boss Hog) and drummer Bruce Saltmarsh. Playing 2013’s Goner-Fest 10 and subsequently releasing a self-titled album of garage-ragers on Italy’s Munster Records later that year, the Fuzz (not to be confused with Ty Segall’s band of the same name) have helped expand the breadth of the Harlan T. Bobo musical frame of reference nicely. The Fuzz toured the states during the summer of 2014

2014 has seen Harlan T. Bobo, now based in France with his wife and son, busier than ever with festival appearances, touring, the rerelease of Too Much Love (CD and digital with a bonus track) via both Goner Records stateside and Spain’s Beast Records. Also, Harlan has two album’s worth of solo material – the long awaited follow-up to 2010’s Sucker. The recordings, as yet untitled, find Harlan backed by European musicians, and are slated for release in Spring of 2015.  

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The McCrary Sisters
Jun
16
7:30 PM19:30

The McCrary Sisters

“Singing with family means everything,” says Alfreda McCrary. “We’ve been out with the best of the best onstage and in the studio, but there’s nothing like singing harmony with your own flesh and blood.”

The list of artists the McCrary Sisters have collaborated with, both as a group and individually, reads like a stroll through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Johnny  Cash, Stevie Wonder), but with their exhilarating new album, ‘McCrary Sisters: Live,’ it’s clear that the McCrary women shine brightest when they’re center stage. Captured at Music City hotspot 3rd & Lindsley, the album marks the legendary quartet’s first concert release and showcases all of the ecstasy, passion, and heartbreak that have made them some of the most beloved and sought-after singers in Nashville.

A typical McCrary Sisters show overflows with kind of inimitable magic that can only come from sharing your life and love and art with your kin, but the remarkable performances documented here find the sisters hitting new heights of raw power and emotion. It felt like all of Nashville turned out to celebrate the group that night, and the atmosphere on the album is absolutely electric as the sisters feed off of the adoring crowd. The energy in their voices is palpable, as is their sheer joy at being joined onstage by band members old and new along with a slew of special guests, including several of their nieces and daughters. 

“We were all of one accord that night,” remembers Regina McCrary. “Everybody’s spirit and mind was set on the same thing, and the atmosphere was perfect. It was just so special to look around and see our girls up there carrying it on for the next generation, too.”

Bridging generations through music is a McCrary family tradition. The sisters—Ann, Regina, Alfreda, and Deborah—were born and raised in Nashville, TN, where they learned to sing at a young age from their father, the Rev. Samuel McCrary. The reverend was an original member of The Fairfield Four, the iconic vocal quartet whose towering influence transcended gospel music and inspired everyone from Sam Cooke to B.B. King. The McCrary household regularly hosted traveling gospel artists including the Staple Singers and Shirley Caeser, but soul, R&B, blues,  and country all had a place on their radio, which helped the girls develop into extraordinarily versatile singers.

“Music is music,” says Ann. “When it’s deep down in your soul, it doesn’t make any difference what kind it is. It’s easy for us to pull all those genres together in our songs because we grew up listening to all of them, and they still resonate in our souls.”

Marriage, careers, and family obligations took the girls their separate ways as they grew up,  and over the years, they faced more than their fair share of personal tragedy and triumphs, but music always sustained them. Regina may have had the most prominent gig of the bunch, joining Bob Dylan on the road for eight years and singing on three of his albums, but each of  the sisters continued to sing in award-winning choirs, on television, in studios, on stages around the world, and, of course, at home for the sheer love of it. Whether it was at Madison Square Garden or in the kitchen cooking supper, it didn’t matter; for the McCrary girls, to sing was to live.

It wasn’t until the early 2000’s, though, that the sisters finally fulfilled their father’s dream and came together to form their own group. The quartet’s chemistry was immediate and undeniable, and Nashville (along with the rest of the world) quickly took notice. The Oxford American raved that the McCrary Sisters “brought a glimpse of heaven to recordings by Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, Allison Moorer, Mike Farris, and other Americana artists,” while the LA Times hailed “the exuberance in their voices,” and NPR said they demonstrate “the power of living history and the timelessness of family connection.” The sisters took their harmonies everywhere from The White House to PBS, in addition to recording and performing with major stars like Dr. John, The Black Keys, Martina McBride, Eric Church, and more. They joined the house  band  at  the  world-famous  Ryman  Auditorium  for  the  annual  Americana  Awards ceremonies, where they’ve backed Loretta Lynn and Jackson Browne among others, and released a trio of their own studio albums to critical acclaim. The most recent, 2015’s ‘Let’s Go,’ was a hit on both sides of the pond, with the Associated Press asserting that the album “speaks to the moment while ranking with the most potent roof-raising, pew-shaking music ever created,” and The Guardian praising “their close-harmony vocals [that] switch effortlessly between gospel, soul and foot-stomping R&B.”

That effortless genre hopping is a hallmark of the sisters’ sound, and it’s at the heart of ‘McCrary Sisters: Live.’ On show opener “David Dance,” the band blends Afro-beat horns and Caribbean rhythms underneath the sisters’ spiritual vocals, while “Hum And Moan” is a slow burning, slide guitar blues, and “Stones” calls to mind the avant-funkiness of Prince & The Revolution. The sisters wrote or co-wrote every track on the album save for show-closer “I’ll Take You There,” and despite the varied musical ground they cover, the songs are all  inextricably tied together through their optimism and resilience.

“If there’s a song that has a message that’s about loving and supporting and caring and reaching out, I’m in,” says Regina. “Any song that has a message about love and happiness and joy and peace, you’ve got me. That goes not only for the four sisters, but for our whole family. We love singing songs that will inspire and encourage and help motivate people to find their way and get to the light. That’s what this is all about.”

The sisters sing of brighter days to come on “Train”  and “Other Side Of The Blues,” assure us  that we’re not alone with “He Cares” and “If You Believe,” and offer up a reminder that no burden is too great to bear if you have faith on “Help Me” and “Bible Study.” Perhaps the concert’s most affecting moment arrives with, “Let It Go,” a song which Deborah wrote in the aftermath of a debilitating stroke that nearly ended her days as a performer.

“When I had my stroke,” says Deborah, “I remembered that God does things for a reason. That’s where I was supposed to be, with my sisters by my side. I thank God for my sisters because they’ve helped me in a lot of ways, and that whole experience gave me a deeper understanding of just how much I love being with them.”

That affection extends beyond the stage, too. In 2015, the sisters released their first book, ‘Cooking With Love,’ a collection of stories and recipes passed down from their mother, who was affectionately known in their family as Mudear.

“Our mom used to smile with so much pride to see how happy we were to sit down at the table and eat her food,” says Regina, her voice lighting up at the memory. “Everyone knew what an amazing cook she was. There were lawyers and businesses and hospitals that would ask her to cook big dinners for their banquets and conferences. She’d be in that kitchen for two or three days humming and singing and cooking. The book is most of her recipes, and it’s our way of paying tribute and showing our love to her memory.”

For the McCrary Sisters, showing love is what it’s all about. This album itself is an act of love: love for their family, who joined them on the stage and the audience that night to share in  their joy; love for Nashville, which introduced them to a whole wide world of music all in one city; love for their fans, who would so often ask the sisters after concerts for a way to bring home the transcendent night of music they’d just witnessed; and most especially, love for each other. Like any family, the McCrary Sisters have had their ups and downs, but at the end of the day, there’s only one rule.

“We don’t judge,” says Regina. “We just love.”  

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