Trying on My Blue Suede Shoes: My First Experience with Memphis Music

Posted on August 1, 2014


By Mary Crowell

su1Following the sound of music drifting from the conglomeration of faded brick, I pass graffiti encouraging me to “invest in good times” and a banner above the entrance way promising “endless possibilities.” Abandoned, but certainly not forgotten, the Tennessee Brewery embodies what is magical about Memphis music. Many people mill about, laughing, eating from food trucks, and absorbing the last smooth rays of sun that rolled down the interior brick courtyard. Just inside, the native Memphian band Star & Micey perform, confirming my deep adoration for Memphis music.

To say music matters to me is quite the understatement. Listening to music elicits an emotional response, to the point that it quite literally moves through my soul. Sounds intangible? Try living in Memphis and you will find that the music will weave its way into your being. It’s inevitable really, and it is unsurprising that I stumbled so deeply in love with Memphis. My encounters with music my first year in Memphis shaped my affinity for the city. Whether it was listening to Star & Micey at the Tennessee Brewery, a storyteller’s rendition of gospel music at the Civil Rights Museum on MLK Day, or rapping along with Juicy J in Tom Lee Park, music added depth, joy, and soul to my days in Memphis.

Music and I began our less-than-scandalous love affair many years ago. It all began with an intensive obsession with Shania Twain. Somewhat a precocious toddler and clearly “wise” beyond my years, I sang along to every word of “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.” This obsession with sound soon progressed into what I can only describe as a necessity; music is more than art or background noise. Lyrics clear my mind in a way that silence cannot and tell stories that mold my own understanding and appreciation for expression.

Because of this, the soul of Memphis and its soulful music captures my heart in a way that other cities have not. I’ve danced in the stands of the Mud Island Amphitheater with Dr.Dog and the Lumineers –the Memphis city skyline peering over the drummer’s shoulders. I threw “two fingers to yesterday” with Jake Bugg at Minglewood Hall. I lived “young and wild and free” for a few minutes with Snoop Dogg at Beale Street Music Fest, along with a sweaty, swaying crowd. I felt just a tad bit sassier in the presence of dynamic lead singer Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes. I watched Drew and Ellie Holcomb fall in love on stage at The New Daisy Theater on Beale Street, and I hopped out of my seat during Stax Music Academy’s performance “Peace, Love, and Soulsville” at Minglewood. Thus, I lived Memphis music, and this is only just the beginning

Each of these encounters with music in Memphis fostered a deep appreciation for living in an environment that makes discovering music so accessible. Just to prove the love affair is real, I have already penciled three separate concerts into my calendar for next October (Head and the Heart, CHUVCHES, and City in Colour, if you’d like to join me). So, here’s to giving all my money to concert venues, investing in golden times that are good for my soul, and exploring a city that’s turned my obsession into a lifestyle.

Mary Crowell is a sophomore at Rhodes College.

Posted in: Music