Posted on 5/14/2013
One of the first topics Concert Blast covered on our very first show was the discussion of Tom Thompson’s trip to Memphis as he attended the Beale Street Music Festival in May of 2005. Every year since, Concert Blast has covered the three day music festival and have enjoyed every one of them. This is part one of a three part series of what happened in Memphis, TN at Tom Lee Park during the first weekend in Memphis In May. Special thanks to the Memphis In May staff for inviting us every year to cover this event and for making us feel very welcomed!
Written by Mike Arnold
When the Concert Blast team consisting of Brian Hasbrook, Tom Thompson, helper Steve Shattuck, and myself left Nashville, TN, the weather was beautiful with partly cloudy skies. By the time we reached our usual West Tennessee lunch destination in Jackson, TN (Casey Jones Old Country Store), the rain began to slowly fall. By the time we left Jackson, TN, we found ourselves driving in a heavy down pour. We then began to fear what was in store for us for the evening. This year we came more prepared for this year’s festival than all the previous years with plenty of rain gear and boots, however I wasn’t prepared for the cold weather. Lucky for me, Brian had an extra hoodie for me to wear and a much heavier poncho than what I brought. When we arrived in Memphis to check in to our hotel, it was in the low 40s. By the time we returned back from the first night of the festival, we saw frost on the cars in the hotel parking lot. I couldn’t wait to take a hot shower!
As we arrived at the festival, we checked in to the media trailer, said hello and gave hugs to the mainly all female staff that we see only once a year, and signed the photo release forms. We left to take a walk around the various stages and to start recording our audio podcast, to find out two days later that our audio recorder was dying a slow death on night one and never worked again afterwards. As we were looking for our vendor sponsor (“The Best Around” food concessions) to say hello and a huge “Thank You”, we were told by one of the security guys driving a golf cart that we weren’t allowed on the “back path”. Of course we knew he was confused because we’ve spent every year walking and recording from this area. I went to get one of our acquaintances who managed one of the stages to straighten out the man’s facts. That’s when we discovered that they changed the rules on us. We were only allowed on the back path by our media escorts driving the golf carts. We didn’t like the new rule, but we got over it rather quickly once the music started.
We began the music coverage by checking out the London, England band, The Joy Formidable who had about 1,500 people at their stage. A three piece band all lined up across the stage. Left to right was the bassist, the female singer/guitarist, and drummer (facing the others). We enjoyed their show for a while and decided to find the stage were The Wallflowers were performing at 7:25pm. We watched Jakob Dylan and his band mates perform several numbers (including “Three Marlenas” and a cover of the Box Tops song “The Letter” – I’m sure it was a Memphis tribute) while getting the crowd into the music. Not really rocking or performing a stage show, but sounding real good with their grooves.
After about 30 minutes of The Wallflowers, we decided to pay a visit to our sponsor, The Best Around food concessions (we called them “The Best All Around”) for some dinner. Nothing like a fresh made to order Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich and fries to warm us up! On our way back to the media trailer we walked up on the stage were Yngwie Malmsteen was performing in front of a wall of stacked Marshall amps. As he performed his many super fast guitar leads, smoke machines were spewing out clouds of smoke all around him while the stage and spot lights lit him up. It was a magical 70s performance!
As we returned to the trailer, we heard all the grumbling from the photographers complaining about Sheryl Crow not allowing them in the photo pit for concert action shots. All of them were saying they were going to boycott her performance. Tom and I told them we didn’t care and we were still going to see our favorite performer of the night. They harassed us for a little for taking up for her (including Brian). I suppose photographers stick together.
Tom, Steve, and I left the trailer to make our way down to see Sheryl’s performance (which was my favorite of the night). She had about 12,000 fans there ready for her set as she started her show with one of my favorites, “Steve McQueen”, went right into “All I Wanna Do (Is Have Some Fun)“, and continued with hit after hit while including a couple of new tunes. Sheryl talked about her kids being asleep on the tour bus while mommy is out working. She mentioned her children love the cartoon movie, “Cars”, especially when they hear their mommy’s song in the movie, “Real Gone”, which she played.
We wanted to check out some more acts, so we went to check out The Deftones (too much profanity for me), then left to take in some of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, which lead singer Alex Ebert who was nearly in the crowd of about 10,000 getting everyone to sing and dance along. Backup singer Jade Castrinos was dressed as if she was about to hit the ski slopes. It was cold, but I would think the stage lights would help a little.
Tom, Steve and I then went to see Daryl Hall & John Oates perform their set. They took the stage late and didn’t say much at all. Actually their show started off boring, so we left after about 5 songs. Tom and Steve went to catch Alice In Chains while I wanted to experience the electronic sounds of Bassnectar. His DJ skills had the large crowd of about 15,000 dancing, jumping, and yelling along with the beats. This was definitely an experience!
Even the VIP crowd was up on their feet dancing to the sounds while the smoke machines and light effects added to the atmosphere. They probably had the largest crowd of the night of about 15,000.
I left to catch some more of Hall & Oates. They had the crowd singing along to their hits and Sheryl Crow came out to join in as a backup singer. Their show definitely got much better as the night continued.
I then took off to catch some of Alice In Chains, but I got there as they were closing out their set. Tom and Steve loved their set. I thought the band sounded great, but I’m not a huge fan of their music.
Night one of the Beale Street Music Festival was a fun, but very cold night. As Sheryl Crow said after her first song, “It’s Freezing!” Brian was busy all night taking photos of the various acts while Tom, Steve and I were reporting live into a dead audio recorder, without knowing it until Sunday! At least it didn’t rain on us!
Written by Mike Arnold
Special Thanks to “THE BEST AROUND” Food Concessions for Sponsoring Concert Blast During The Beale Street Music Festival Weekend!
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Tags: Alice In Chains, Bassnectar, Beale Street Music Festival 2013, blog, Brian Hasbrook, concert blast, concertblast, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Hall and Oates, Memphis In May 2013, Mike Arnold, podcast, Sheryl Crow, Steve Shattuck, The Best Around Food Concessions, The Joy Formidable, The Wall Flowers, Tom Thompson, Yngwie Malmsteen