Live music blooms in Memphis during the spring and summer, with some of the country’s best outdoor venues right here in the Bluff City. This year, the outdoor concert season starts a bit earlier than normal. The Beale Street Music Festival used to be the real kickoff to the live music season. But next week — April 14, to be exact — things get going with the premiere of Rooftop Parties at the historic Peabody Hotel. The season in Memphis lasts until September at venues throughout the city and beyond. You can fill your evenings with tunes of every type, bring the kids or leave them at home and enjoy the uniquely Memphis vibe of summer in the city. Here’s where to find great outdoor music this season!
Peabody Rooftop Parties
Every Thursday, from April 14 through August 18, the rooftop at the Peabody Hotel turns into one of the city’s best outdoor concert venues. With sunset views of the Mississippi and live music from dance-into-the-night bands, there’s no better place to begin a weekend than the Peabody Rooftop. The kickoff band this year is The Molly Ringwalds. While all decades are represented, the crowd at these parties tends to heavily favor 20-somethings, and the vibe is more dance party than concert (and who doesn’t love a good dance party?). Tickets are $10 to $15, and the first 200 ladies get in free. Special themed food and beverages are part of the fun. Find the full lineup on the Peabody Hotel website.
BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove
The DeSoto County, MS, BankPlus outdoor amphitheater starts its summer season on April 22 and 23 with Southaven Springfest, featuring 38 Special the first night and Loverboy the next. The concert schedule includes Chris Stapleton (sold out), Boston and Weird Al Yankovic, with more shows to be scheduled. Concessions are available, but no outside food, beverages or coolers may be brought in. Ticket prices vary by show, and general admission show tickets start at $10.
Beale Street Music Festival
Grab your cutest rain boots and get ready for mud and music along the Mississippi River. Beale Street Music Festival’s three days tend to be a crazy combination of teenagers, college kids, hipsters and boomers, and 2016 is no different. This year’s lineup includes Beck, Meghan Trainor, Train, Panic! At the Disco, Lucinda Williams, LunchMoney Lewis, Better Than Ezra and Los Lobos. The musical madness takes place on a handful of stages across Tom Lee Park April 29 through May 1. Tickets start at $105 for all three days, or $45 for a single day. View the complete lineup here.
Discovery Park of America
If you haven’t been to Discovery Park of America — the massive museum/education center, garden complex and amaze-ment park in Union City — yet, the summer concert series is a great reason to make the trek. The venue for the concerts is the Great Lawn, a gorgeous space surrounded by gardens and water features. Concertgoers can bring blankets and lawn chairs; coolers are not allowed, but food and beverages are sold on-site during shows. Tickets are $10 for each show; the 2016 season begins May 7 with Clark Beckham, the runner-up from season 14 of “American Idol.”
Summer Concert Series at the Levitt Shell
With more than 50 performances, the summer concert series at the iconic Levitt Shell kicks off in mid-May. Concerts continue throughout the summer, Thursday through Sunday evenings, and with very few exceptions, all shows are free. A few shows offer rain dates, too. Most shows start at 7:30 p.m., and guests can come anytime to claim a spot. Blankets, lawn chairs and coolers are allowed, and all shows are family-friendly. A number of food trucks and food vendors set up around the Shell’s perimeter, so you can always grab a drink or a bite to eat if you don’t bring your own picnic. Check the full schedule here.
Live at the Garden
The actual gardens at the Memphis Botanic Garden take a bit of a backseat in the summer to MBG’s Live at the Garden concert series. The lineup for the 2016 Live at the Garden includes Sheryl Crow, Heart, REO Speedwagon and Greg Allman. All of the tables have been snapped up, but lawn seats are available for all shows, and the lawn can be just as much fun, in our opinion. All tickets for lawn seats are $45. Pit tickets, for those who want to stand right in front of the stage, are $75. Guests can bring coolers, food, lawn chairs and blankets. Food vendors are scattered throughout the park, and you can even preorder meals on the Live at the Garden website. All concerts take place rain or shine, unless severe weather threatens, in which case the show will be rescheduled.