A Review of Judah and the Lion, my Life, and Memphis

Posted on July 1, 2014


By Cliare Richard

1493527_680666371966207_1304747800_oI decided to take a rest from my exhaustive job search and attempt to plan my foreseeable future to surrender to an alluring Memphis Saturday with my friends. I had just entered the Levitt Shell for the first time for my very first music festival. I was instantly enveloped by great music upon entering the Moon River Music Festival, presented by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. My vision, however, was simultaneously drawn to a man walking around Levitt Shell barefoot. My mind rested only for a minute on the weirdness of this barefoot sight as we hurried to find our place on the grass.

After relaxing into the Memphis event and enjoying the music, my friends, and the people around us, a Tennessee band came on that we would soon find out was called Judah and the Lion. Judah and the Lion provided easy listening true to their American-folk style. Their time spent on stage kept the crowd engaged and happy, and I often found myself wanting to throw up my hands as I would in church. Being content sitting on the warm grass next to my friends, I relaxed my head to allow the sun leave its mark on my cheeks as I listened to the music easily falling upon those of us in the Shell. It was then that I realized that I was barefoot. I looked at my feet as if I had never seen them before, realizing I now formed a pact with the barefoot man from earlier. Strangely enough, I felt as if I had just surrendered to Memphis. I had surrendered to its barefoot, music festival, folk style ways. As someone who is in the middle of attempting to plan my life, this surrender to sweet Tennessee could not have been more welcoming.

Around the same time, I also attended my first ever neighborhood dinner with many attendees whom I had never met. A nice gentleman went around the room saying where everyone was from and when he got to me he asked, “Are you a transplant too?” What is a transplant? I thought. This word, obviously meaning to relocate, suggested a deeper meaning. When thinking about transplanting an organ one thinks if the receiving body will accept or reject said transplant. If it does accept, is the transplant permanent? I looked around the room and almost everyone was a “transplant.” I have lived in Memphis for four years, and I loved Memphis, but now on the crux of where I am and where I should be, I had to consider if I was really a Memphian. It was in that moment at the Moon River Music Festival, with the sun shining, surrounded by loved ones, and my feet free in the grass did I really feel like Memphis and I had come to the mutual agreement that yes, I was a transplant.

So why am I writing another article about how the personality of Memphis has affected me? Furthermore, why is the constant flow of Memphis photos on Instagram so widely accepted? Why is any of this important? It is important because this, all of this, is a reflection of what has been, what is, but more importantly, what will be. The truth is that Memphis is a city that still wears its history on its sleeve. And now more than ever, Memphis has owned its history while deciding on a distinctive direction. It not only accepts transplants, like myself, but greets them welcomingly and waits patiently for them to love it back. Memphis is Memphis because people appreciate it and it should continue to be celebrated. To the degree of which is decided by us; by us transplants, by Memphians. By loving Memphis and its future, we decide what will be.

I supposed I should thank Judah and the Lion for shedding the grace of Tennessee upon me. While I have numerous songs on my computer hailing my former home, Texas, I now proudly listen a new favorite song by Judah and the Lion, Sweet Tennessee

”Cause I don’t need some big ‘ol city, Lord. Give me Tennessee.”

For more information on Judah and the Lion and the Moon River Festival, check out our Music page.

Claire Richard graduated from Rhodes College this May with a degree in Commerce & Business and French

Posted in: Lifestyle