Saturday at the Beale Street Music Festival, the gates opened on time with no storms predicted. The second day of the fest was shaping up to be a more or less normal medley of music and mud, with crowds coming to see acts who have never been to the event and some who are practically regulars.
"So many performers are new to the festival," said Diane Hampton, executive Vice President of Memphis in May. Those include Patti Smith, Dwight Yoakum, Jake Bugg, the Black Keys and Big Boi. "Combine those with the frequent players like Jerry Lee Lewis and Mavis Staples," she said, "and it makes this festival iconic. We've also put on new talent before they got big, like Mumford & Sons. This year, Jake Bugg and Phoenix are marked as someone to watch."
Local rising band Star & Micey got the energy going early afternoon Saturday on the FedEx Stage, playing to a decent sized crowd.
Friday's crowd was also respectable considering that the rain departed only as the festival started but it was probably the coldest day in the history of the event. Hampton said attendance was still pretty good, although it helps that 80 to 90 percent of tickets are sold in advance. "And we don't get a lot of walk-ups on Friday anyway," she said.
Meanwhile, the enduring Southern Comfort Blues Shack was featuring Blind Mississippi Morris and Matt Isbell playing the most intimate venue in the festival mix. "People don't always recognize the incredible diversity and variety of musical experience," Hampton said, "especially for the price of a ticket."