Warm weather, sunshine and live music … what could be better? As entertainment makes its way back to the 901, we asked people who work behind the scenes at Memphis music events for everything you need to know about the return of live music. From shows at the Soundstage at Graceland to Live at the Garden, Mempho Music Fest and Levitt Shell, here are four ways live music is making its way back to Memphis in 2021.

4 Ways Live Music is Returning to Memphis in 2021

Graceland Live

You can expect live music at Graceland Live as soon as March 19 (Yes, that’s today!). Whether you’re a fan of country, rock, comedy, gospel or pop, Graceland Live still plans to host acts that appeal to all music lovers. We spoke to Graceland‘s Director of Marketing, Matt Mandrella, about what (and who) you can expect to see at Graceland Live this year.

What decisions were made regarding live music’s return to Graceland?

Bringing live music events back to the Soundstage at Graceland is something we’ve all been looking forward to, but obviously, we could not do it until we were certain that we could do so safely and in compliance with health directives. We’re thrilled the time has finally come! And it seems the audiences are too as the shows are selling very well.

What guidelines are in place to make guests feel safe?

We work very closely with the Shelby County Health Department to ensure we meet or exceed any recommended protocols in place. All staff and guests are required to wear masks and undergo temperature check screenings upon entering the property. Seats are socially distanced by group, and hand sanitizing stations are widely available throughout the campus. We also have plenty of signage and floor markers placed throughout the venues and entrances to create awareness of proper social distancing between guests and to direct attendees where to stand when waiting in queue lines.

What kind of music and artists can we expect?

Something for everyone — national touring acts in genres such as country, rock, comedy, gospel and pop. And, of course, the acclaimed Elvis-themed live concerts we produce during events like Elvis Week and Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Weekend, where several of the best and most well-known tribute artists in the world take the stage here in Memphis.

What are some upcoming dates for live performances?

We have a few concerts and events on sale now, with A LOT more in the works that we will be announcing soon. Tickets are on sale now for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Weekend on March 19 and 20 as well as Elvis Week on August 11-17. Country singer/songwriters Jamey Johnson and Randy Houser will also share the stage here for two nights of special acoustic performances on April 9 and 10. Then later in 2021, we have acts such as the legendary Nitty Gritty Dirt Band performing as well as political commentator Greg Gutfeld.

For information on ticket prices and additional details, visit gracelandlive.com.

Graceland Live, a place to experience live music in Memphis

“Seats are socially distanced by group, and hand sanitizing stations are widely available throughout the campus,” says Graceland‘s Director of Marketing Matt Mandrella. “We also have plenty of signage and floor markers placed throughout the venues and entrances to create awareness of proper social distancing between guests and to direct attendees where to stand when waiting in queue lines.” Image: Graceland Live

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Live at the Garden

It doesn’t get much better than sitting outside while listening to music with a drink in your hand — and that’s exactly what Live at the Garden is known to offer. For 20 years, this iconic Memphis concert series has hosted acts like Tony Bennett, The Band Perry, Foreigner and more. While this year’s event may take place later in the season, we can still anticipate unforgettable performances by a variety of artists. We talked with the event’s co-director Sherry May about what we can expect from this year’s series.

What decisions were made regarding the return of Live at the Garden?

When we were forced to cancel Live at the Garden in 2020, we immediately rebooked all of our artists for the summer of 2021.  Due to COVID still being a factor in 2021, we are now working to start later in the summer and go into fall this season. We hope to get the five-show series in but may only get three or four. We hope to be able to announce the plan for 2021 in late April.

What guidelines are in place to make guests feel safe?

We will follow all health directives as mandated by our state and local authorities at the time of the shows. We are working on contactless ticketing and entry options, adding hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue, and encouraging social distancing and masks. We will do whatever is necessary to keep our patrons, staff, volunteers and entertainers safe.

What kind of music and artists can we expect?

We are currently working on the lineup. There are a few changes to what we originally scheduled because COVID is still a factor for 2021. Some tours have been rescheduled to go out in 2022. However, we hope to keep with our usual mix of genres.

When can we expect the concert series to take place?

We haven’t released the actual dates yet, but they will be late summer or early fall. Hopefully, all the pieces of the puzzle will come together within the next few weeks.

For updated information on the event’s lineup and dates, visit latgradians.squarespace.com.

Live at the Garden at Memphis Botanic Garden

Stay tuned for the full Live at the Garden lineup … coming soon! Image: Live at the Garden

Mempho Music Festival

While Mempho Music Festival doesn’t happen in the heat of the summer, it still offers a variety of music and performers. This year’s event is no exception, taking place in October while the leaves fall and temperatures cool down. We spoke to the festival’s media and marketing manager, Chris Duncan, about this year’s event.

What decisions were made regarding the return of Mempho Music Festival?

Everyone is ready for the return of live music. The hiatus in 2020 gave us the opportunity to really focus on putting together a festival experience like no other in 2021. We’ve been in conversation with the CDC as well as local and state health officials, and the return of live music by this summer is very realistic. We understand there’s still uncertainty in our industry, but the vaccine rollout and steady decline in cases are really encouraging. With more than a year to plan, we couldn’t be more excited to bring our fans the extraordinary live music experience that Mempho Fest provides.

What guidelines are in place to make guests feel safe?

We’re working closely with local and state health officials to ensure our festival will be a safe and incredible experience for all our patrons and staff. Health and safety guidelines will be updated and shared with our fans leading up to the event. However, with the festival more than six months away, it’s still a little too early to announce our safety policy as guidelines are constantly changing. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to continue practicing safety protocols and get vaccinated once eligible.

What kind of music and artists can we expect?

Similar to each year of Mempho Fest, we’ll have an array of genres. From rock and blues to folk and soul music, we’ll have something for everyone to enjoy.

When can we expect the event to take place?

October 1-3, 2021, at Radians Amphitheater at Memphis Botanic Garden.

For more information and details, visit memphofest.com.

Mempho Fest, an event where you can experience live music in Memphis

Mempho Music Festival is scheduled to return to Radians Amphitheater this fall. Image: Eric Allen

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Levitt Shell

While Levitt Shell hasn’t announced specific details about their 2021 concert series just yet, the team is working hard to bring live music back to the historic stage at some point this year. Levitt Shell’s Executive Director Natalie Wilson says they plan to host fundraising events and socially distanced concerts this summer (May through July). By doing so, she hopes this leads to the return of the free concert series in September and October on Friday and Saturday evenings.

To stay in the know about the event’s lineup and schedule, visit levittshell.org.

Levitt Shell

We anxiously await the return of live music at Levitt Shell in 2021. Image: Andrea Zucker Photography

Here’s to enjoying live music in Memphis once again!

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