Sally Walker Davies

By , Local Expert, Memphis
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It's no surprise that the city's live music scene centers around Beale Street, made famous as the home of the blues during the early 20th century. Beale is full of live music, whether it is the raucous beat from the house band at B.B. King's to the more mellow tunes of a cover band at Alfred's.

Beale is a great place to just grab a cold drink and wander - and the only district in the city where doing so is perfectly legal. It's usually late afternoon when the cops shut the street down, cutting off traffic so the district becomes pedestrian-friendly. And that's when more street musicians open their cases and tune up their...  Read more »

  • 1

    Hi-Tone Cafe

    The Hi-Tone is the quintessential Memphis music joint - a little gritty yet totally authentic and soulful.

    Local Expert Tip: "Tuesday is all-you-can-eat wings night starting at 5 p.m. - and the bands start playing at 5:30."

  • 2

    B.B. King's Blues Club

    B.B. cut his teeth on Beale Street - and his club is authentic despite being touristy.

    Local Expert Tip: "This is one or the rare spots when an early show doesn't equal lame -- so don't worry about losing your cool factor if you visit during daylight hours. We won't tell, and you won't be sorry."

  • 3

    Silky O'Sullivan's

    Silky's is simply funky with its beer drinking goats; the live music and rowdy atmosphere make it a must-do.

    Local Expert Tip: "Be sure to try the famous "Diver",a gallon of booze that comes in a bucket with straws for you and your friends. Just don't try to drink it alone! "

  • 4

    Alfred's On Beale

    Great live cover bands are the hallmark of Alfred's, and the patio is the spot to watch the crowds while grooving to the music.

    Local Expert Tip: "Alfred's offers the only roof-top patio on Beale, and it is a great place to hold court for the evening. Arrive around 8 and you can lurk in the background for a table opening. "

  • 5

    Young Avenue Deli

    Some of the best regional musicians play Young Avenue, and it is simply one of the best live music venues in town.

    Local Expert Tip: "The best spot in the whole bar is outside, if you can grab one of the tables. The music is still audible, you can carry on a conversation, and you can people watch the Cooper-Young scene from the comfort of the patio."

  • 6

    Blues City Cafe

    There's live music almost every night at the Band Box, heavy on rockabilly and blues, with a bit of fusion jazz thrown in.

    Local Expert Tip: "Check the schedule for Brad Birkedahl and the Burnin' Love Band; the former lead singer of the rockabilly group The Dempsey's and his merry men cover Elvis in a soulful way - and we would never call them a cover band. Elvis die-hards and those who'd never dream of listening to the King's music can find common ground here."

  • 7

    New Daisy Theatre

    While the New Daisy doesn't have live music nightly and is more of a venue than a bar, it's a fantastic place to catch a concert.

    Local Expert Tip: "New Daisy Shows are all ages, unless indicated otherwise. Minors aren't allowed on Beale after 11 p.m., but if the show at the New Daisy is all ages, then kids can enjoy the show, as long as they are with an adult."

  • 8

    Mr. Handy's Blues Hall

    Mr. Handy's evokes the feeling of what Beale Street must have been like back in its heyday - we love it.

    Local Expert Tip: "This is an evening-only establishment, open from 5 p.m. - 1 a.m. nightly."

  • 9

    Rum Boogie Cafe

    Rum Boogie just boogies all day long with great music - so it is the perfect spot to hit if you can't catch a nighttime show.

    Local Expert Tip: "There's usually a cover for Rum Boogie, even if you're just coming in for dinner."

  • 10

    Center For Southern Folklore

    Live music at the Center is one of the most authentic experiences in town - the feel is definitely blues club.

    Local Expert Tip: "The Center plays host to a lot of private parties in springtime, so be sure to check the schedule before making a plan to visit."



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