Tucked between the gorgeous Memphis Zoo and the Brooks Museum of Art in Overton Park, the Levitt Shell has a long and storied history as an entertainment venue in Memphis. The Shell is where Elvis played to his first large crowd, with a young Johnny Cash also on the ticket. Just a few years ago, the Shell was in danger of demolition - but the efforts of its supporters paid off, and its rebirth has been nothing short of spectacular.
Gedeon Luke & The People played the opening night of the Shell's 2014 season — Photo courtesy of Levitt Shell
A 50-event summer concert and performing arts series in 2014 brings blues, rock, country and alt bands to the Shell's stage - and even better, brings out the food trucks, the dinner parties on blankets, the coolers filled with growlers of locally crafted beer and bottles of fine wines. Sponsor parties in festive, fenced-off areas line the edge of the crowd, which really prefers to be down closer to the action.
High Cotton - a local craft brewery - was on tap for the 2014 kick-off event — Photo courtesy of Levitt Shell
The best thing about the series is that almost every concert is free. Roseanne Cash is the best-known of all of this year's performers, but plenty of local and regional acts - including Amy LaVare, Mississippi bluesman Cedric Burnside, the Stax Academy students and others - are scheduled to perform. See the full lineup online.
Concerts run Thursday through Sunday every weekend through July, when the Indie Memphis Film Festival kicks off at the Shell. When the summer is over, a fall concert season kicks off, with performances from September 5 through October 16.
There are a few rules for the Shell: You can bring your own coolers and food, or indulge in the offerings of one of the food trucks that rotate through the park. Well-mannered dogs (And, yes, only dogs. Sorry cat, snake and ferret owners.) are allowed. Lawn seating is on a first-come, first served basis, and you should be kind and leave the few benches scattered around for the folks who really need them.
To see more upcoming events, visit the Levitt Shell website.