Early Birds in Memphis Get Plenty of Live Music

The roots of American music run deep in Memphis; we are, after all, the birthplace of rock 'n' roll and the home of the blues. And while the clubs and bands on Beale Street rock until the wee hours of the morning, there are plenty of live venues and excellent bands for non-night owls, also known as early birds, to enjoy.

The clubs and venues on this list range from the fantastic (and free!) Levitt Shell, where concerts, plays and dance performances are held in the open air more than 50 times each summer, and continue through the fall.

Beale Street is ground zero when it comes to live music; with a few dozen clubs, street performers, and a public park that has its own stage all part of the festive scene, you're never far from some blues or rock at any given moment of the day. And on Beale, open beverages are allowed, and many of the early shows are perfectly fine for the kids, too. Plus, early evening sees some of the best bands on stage, from the house blues band at B.B. King's to Brad Birkdahl and his band at the Blues City Cafe's Band Box. The Hi-Tone offers early shows featuring the best indie and alt rock bands from around the region and beyond.



Talk about rock 'n' roll karma: The Memphis version of the Hard Rock Cafe - the first truly themed restaurant and nightspot devoted to musical culture - is located right on Beale Street, in a building where Elvis Presley once bought his...  Read More



On any given night, you can walk into the Rum Boogie Cafe and hear great blues, rock or country bands. While the beer selection has its fair share of admirers, the bar's d�cor alone is enough to get most avid music fans in the door as the...  Read More



The tiny Mr. Handy's is a stand-alone juke joint, but connected to Rum Boogie Cafe. It evokes the real feel of a juke joint, to, with tables crammed into the tiny space, worn wood floors, random stuff on the walls, along with historic photos of...  Read More



Located in the heart of Memphis's nightlife scene (the corner of Third and Beale), Alfred's is one of those places that you need to stop in if you plan on telling people you visited Memphis. Known for its live music, Alfred's offers one of...  Read More



The Hi-Tone is a Memphis live music institution, but almost too cool to claim that title. With just few rooms - a lounge area, and two spaces, one large and one small for shows - it' moved into its strip mall location in the newly revitalized...  Read More

Blues City Cafe


Blues City Cafe, in the heart of Memphis's nightlife scene, offers the right ingredients for a perfect evening � terrific food and great blues (played right next door at the Band Box). While some folks may dispute the place's claim to the title...  Read More



An Irish dueling piano pub with beer-loving goats? Nothing quite compares with what awaits you at Silky O'Sullivan's. Located in the heart of Memphis nightlife on Beale Street, Silky's serves up Southern pub grub and ice-cold beer in a raucous...  Read More



Central is one of our favorites, thanks to the huge patio that's open during fine weather (often with a band tucked into the corner), the homemade potato chips with bleu cheese dressing, which our table of six agreed recently were the work of...  Read More



With more than 50 free musical performances, movies under the stars and a smattering of dance and drama performances, the Levitt Shell in Overton Park serves as true common ground for residents of Memphis. The historic shell - Elvis once sang...  Read More



In the ranks of Memphis's most famous nightspots, B.B.'s is one of those rare places that you must visit if you spend any time in the city at all. Featuring an amazing nightly repertoire of blues, along with great food and cold beer, the bar...  Read More


Meet Sally Walker Davies

Sally Walker Davies is enchanted by Memphis' music, history, and characters. From the artsy South Main Historic District to the grittiness of her favorite live music clubs to the sophisticated...  More About Sally