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

Due to forecasted rain, this show has been moved to Minglewood Hall’s 1884 Lounge. Still FREE! Still all ages. Please leave food and drink at home because Minglewood sells it. Chairs and blankets are welcome. 7PM sharp

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

Sponsored By:

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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.

Sponsored by:

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

Sponsored By:

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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

Website | Facebook

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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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