A busy weekend of music downtown kicks off Friday, May 21st, with local appearances from two very different contemporary country singers. "Where's the protest rally?" raconteur Steve Earle appears at the Memphis Arts Council's Artrageous event in the South Main Arts District (see Steppin' Out, page 19). Meanwhile, down at the other end of downtown, "Where's the kegger?" party boy Kenny Chesney, perhaps the new king of country music, brings his When the Sun Goes Down Tour to The Pyramid (see Short Cuts, page 41). It's hard to imagine Earle and Chesney having much in common, but this fan heartily recommends both.
Then, on Saturday, it might be impossible to walk more than a few blocks without hitting some choice live music. Things get started early back on South Main with the StranjBrew HooDoo Festival, which will claim four venues at the corner of Main Street and G.E. Patterson to host a bevy of local talents. The fest runs from 4 to about 9 p.m. At Earnestine & Hazel's the lineup is: Hans Faulhaber, Sid & Steve Selvidge, Critical Path, and Cane Pole. At The Power House: Jim Dickinson, Don McGregor, Bert Stegall, and Mark Allen. At the Arcade: Amy & the Tramps, Thingamajig, Jeffrey Evans & Suzi Hendrix, Hank & Bedouin, and Bob Camp & Freddie Friction. At Harry's Detour South Main: The Keep, Ripple, Nate Whitlock, and The Great War.
Later that night, folk legend John Prine performs at The Orpheum. A witty, sardonic songwriter with one of those distinct voices Bob Dylan made safe for pop music, Prine released a string of acclaimed albums in the Seventies, including Pink Cadillac, which he recorded in Memphis at Sam Phillips' post-Sun studio. Prine's Memphis connection continued with his affiliation with local songwriters Keith Sykes and Todd Snider, the later of whom recorded on Prine's Oh Boy label and will open this week's Memphis concert.
Meanwhile, over at the Mud Island Amphitheater, local booking company Snax puts on its biggest show ever with a blues-rock package headlined by The North Mississippi Allstars. The band will be making their first local appearance in quite a while after spending the last couple of months touring Europe. The Allstars will be joined on Mud Island by like-minded locals (or regionals) such as Alvin Youngblood Hart, Cary Hudson, and Duff Dorrough.
And if all that's not enough, Beale Street is sure to be hopping this weekend, with musical options including: Kirk Smithhart at Alfred's, Ruby Wilson and Preston Shannon at B.B. King's, The Masqueraders at Blues City CafÇ, Charlie Wood at King's Palace, Barbara Blue at O'Sullivan's, and James Govan at Rum Boogie CafÇ. n