Thursday, September 2, 2010

Memphis Arts Weekend: Sept. 2-6 edition

OK, so I'm a little torn for this weekend. Do I sit around all day Saturday and watch the opening weekend of college football or do I attend the Memphis Music & Heritage Festival? Do I enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon and evening at home, knowing I don't have to get up the next day and go to work, or do I head over to the Levitt Shell for Pianos in the Park?

Better yet, there's today's kickoff of Thursday Night Live at the Metal Museum and Friday's Zoo Brew. But good luck getting into the Memphis Zoo to taste the beer at Zoo Brew. That event sold out a couple of days ago.

First is Thursday Night Live at the National Ornamental Metal Museum. I don't think I'll be making it out to tonight's family night that features a performance by The Soulsville Charter School Philharmonic Orchestra, but I definitely will be in attendance next Thursday when Memphis band Star and Micey take the outdoor stage. The concerts are every Thursday in September from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $5 for nonmembers of the museum and free for members.

An important note if you've never been to the Metal Museum. They have the best view of the Mississippi River. Seriously. You'll hear people say that and not think much of the statement. But seriously. Go see for yourself. The museum is perched on the bluff just below the old bridge and at a perfect bend in the river. The weather tonight will be perfect too. Will make for a magnificent sunset.

Looking ahead to the rest of the weekend:

Since I don't have tickets to Zoo Brew and won't be attending a football game this Labor Day weekend, the highlight for me will be the Memphis Music & Heritage Festival Downtown. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I've never attended this two-day music and arts festival along Main Street between Peabody Place and Barboro Alley just outside the Center for Southern Folklore.

I won't pretend to be able to recommend any of the bands. I've heard of several of them, seen a few in person. Jack Oblivian & the TN Tearjerkers, Blind Mississippi Morris and Bluff City Backsliders are some Saturday highlights to me. Sunday I'm looking forward to John Paul Keith & the 145s, Hill Country Revue, Valerie June and Kate Campbell.

None of those acts up your alley? Well, there's gospel, jazz, blues, rap, dance, rockabilly; you name it and you can see it performed.

In addition to music there will be plenty of art, food, demonstrations and speakers. And the best part of it all? It's free.

Details: Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in and around the Center for Southern Folklore along South Main Street at Peabody Place.

Live in the Galleries: Van Duren

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Live music in the galleries for Who Shot Rock and Roll

Free with museum admission

Arts in the Airport

It will be hard to get the opportunity to observe this arts event at Memphis International Airport, but on Friday at 12:30 p.m. chamber ensembles from the Memphis Symphony Orchestra will play music as Labor Day weekend travelers hurry by.

This reminds me of a discussion a few years back. I don't recall if it was in the Commercial Appeal, on TV or something I observed. But there was discussion about why classical music was played in the terminal instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to introduce travelers to the great sounds of Memphis music.

The argument basically was that the airport officials believed the classical music relaxed the stressed out and hurried passengers. Personally, when I'm arriving at an airport the music I hear matters little, or at least I think it doesn't matter.

The point is this is just one more great arts happening in Memphis. I love this idea MSO has of playing peaceful music in the terminal. It accomplishes the best of both worlds: the sounds of local musicians and the peaceful sounds of classical music.

Performances take place every month from September through May outside of the Blue Note Cafe and the B Concourse Food Court.

Pianos in the Park

OK, I really like this idea (admittedly, I like all ideas that pertain to events at the Levitt Shell. I mean, outdoors, an historic venue in a peaceful park setting and you can bring in your own picnic. What else do you need?)

Anyway, so on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park an event called Pianos in the Park will be held. All sorts of styles will be played: Straight-Ahead (I have no clue what that means), Mainstream jazz (ditto on not knowing technically what that style is but an educated guess tells me it's traditional jazz) and contemporary jazz (I think I have a station on XM radio that plays the style.). In addition, the STAX Music Academy, gospel jazz, rhythm and blues plus soul and smooth jazz are listed.

There will be food and beverage vendors, door prizes and a moon bounce for the kids. If we go it will be interesting to see what my music-loving son will be most interested in: listening to the music or playing in the moon bounce. I guess there's only one way to find out.

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