The Memphis Music & Heritage Festival

By Jaine Rodack

Written by Jaine Rodack on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles

It’s a downtown, down home, downright delight.

Looking for something to do this Labor Day Weekend? Someplace to go where the music is free and flowing and the energy is high? Then head on over to Memphis, Tennessee, where the 31st Memphis Music and Heritage Festival will be in full swing!

The 2017 festival, which runs from September 2nd through the 3rd, from eleven to eleven, features a diverse mix of the very best of the region. There’s something for everyone, as jazz and blues, folk and gospel, rock and rockabilly turn up the volume on five different stages all weekend long.

Hosted by the Center for Southern Folklore, admission is free, thanks to the generous sponsorships and contributions from a variety of mid-south businesses, agencies and individuals.

Situated in the very heart of downtown Memphis, the festival covers a lot of ground both in size and scope, with wall-to-wall music, special events for pint-sized festival-goers, cooking demonstrations, workshops, dancers, artists, poets and others representing the region’s diverse cultures, past and present.

And while the music flows, festival-goers can chow down on southern bites, pore over booths of crafty delights, or take a moment out to see the sites. From Beale Street to Graceland, the city offers a wealth of fun-time possibilities.

That said, you’ll be hard-pressed to leave the festival, given this year’s line-up of amazing artists – among them, harp player and mid-south native, Billy Gibson. If you’ve never seen Billy perform or heard his music, you’re in for a major treat. For more about Billy see his Harmonica Player of the Month article.

Ditto Elmo Thomas and the Shades, who are sure to wow harp and blues fans with their unique sound. “Elmo’s a real character,” says center co-founder Judy Peiser, who’s been putting the event together for every one of its 31 years.

A partial list of those slated to perform includes Smoochie Smith, Semi Average Joe, the Memphis Jazz Orchestra, Luther Dickinson, the Last Chance Jug Band, Hope Clayburn, Devil Train, Freeworld, Reverend John Wilkins, Sweet Angel, the Bluff City Backsliders, Joyce Cobb, the Kattawar Brothers, Marcella Simien, and the Four Star Gospel Group.

This year’s festival is dedicated to the late fife maker and performer Othar Turner, with many performances that will pay tribute to this one-of-a-kind music maker.

The Memphis Music and Heritage Festival: where cool vibes, hot sounds, and good times come together for a don’t-miss-a-minute Labor Day Weekend.

For more information on the festival and the Center for Southern folklore, go to

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