Beale Street Music Fest: White hot to super cool

Beale Street Music fest kicks off on Friday evening and runs through Sunday in Tom Lee Park.

Photo by Jim Weber // Buy this photo

Beale Street Music fest kicks off on Friday evening and runs through Sunday in Tom Lee Park.

Over the next three days Tom Lee Park will welcome a wide-ranging selection of visitors: Among them will be a 92-year-old Mississippi bluesman, a 24-year-old British pop siren, and group of young Filipino rockers.

But T-Model Ford, Florence & the Machine and Sponge Cola are jut a few of the more than 60 acts set to perform at the 36th edition of Memphis in May's Beale Street Music Festival.

The event, which kicks off Friday and runs through Sunday, will again cut a wide swath across a number of genres and generations.

That formula -- a mingling of current pop hitmakers, legacy acts, as well as roots and locally rooted artists -- has helped Music Fest survive and thrive over five decades.

This year, the booking has placed a sharper focus at the top of the bill with white-hot headliners like Miami urban-pop music superstar Pitbull and rap hit maker Wiz Khalifa joining critically acclaimed acts like Gary Clark Jr. and My Morning Jacket.

Meanwhile, the niche atmosphere of the blues tent will be typically heated with appearances from a variety of names including Robert Randolph, Johnny Winter, Duke Robillard and Charlie Musselwhite.

Then, there are the familiar names, iconic singers, reunited acts and veteran stars covering every conceivable angle, from R&B great Al Green, to metal merchants Megadeth to alt-rockers Jane's Addiction.

Once a seemingly uncertain fit as part of the Music Fest program, hip-hop is especially well represented this year, with Southern rapper Big K.R.I.T., enlightened MC Lupe Fiasco, and Hollywood rhymer Childish Gambino joining hometown heroes Yo Gotti and Three 6 Mafia.

Even this year's last-minute addition has added a fascinating new wrinkle, with rock and roll legend Little Richard set to fill in for fellow piano man Jerry Lee Lewis, who has been sidelined with a broken leg.

As always, the greatest variable remains the weather rather than the range of music. After last year's torrential rains and tornado warnings, there may be a reprieve; unusually dry conditions are predicted all the way until the end of the festival.


2012 Beale Street Music Festival

Friday through Sunday at Tom Lee Park. Entrances to Tom Lee Park are on Riverside Drive at Beale Street and on Riverside Drive at Georgia Avenue. Advance ticket holders may enter from the River Walk at the north and South Bluff stairs.

The park will be open Friday from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.; Saturday from 1 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.; and Sunday from 1 to 10:30 p.m.

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Tickets: Single-day tickets to the Beale Street Music Festival are $40 at the gate.

Parking: Memphis in May does not control parking, but lots and spaces are available throughout Downtown.

Rules: Backpacks larger than 12-by-12 inches will not be allowed in the park, and all backpacks, purses and packages are subject to inspection. Blankets are permitted.

Not permitted: Food, beverages, containers or coolers, weapons, bicycles, recording equipment, laser pointers, lawn chairs, oversized umbrellas, pets, roller blades, roller skates, water guns, strollers or game items that can be thrown.

Concessions, etc: Food and beverages, including beer, are available from the concessionaires. Picture IDs are required for alcohol purchases, and to retrieve will-call tickets from Ticketmaster (located at Beale at Wagner).

© 2012 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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