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VOL. 130 | NO. 184 | Tuesday, September 22, 2015

More Music Festivals on the Way in Memphis

By Andy Meek

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Memphis continues to be filled with the sound of music – specifically, music festivals – with a handful on the docket in coming weeks that will fill stages Downtown as well as the Levitt Shell and elsewhere.

The first concert in a music series being introduced by The Orpheum Theatre’s Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education kicks off Oct. 17.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

The list includes the annual fall music festival presented by Blue TOM, the University of Memphis’ student-run record label, as well as a celebration of local music next month in Cooper-Young. Also to come in October is the first concert in a music series being introduced by The Orpheum Theatre’s Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education that will feature a variety of musical artists spanning different genres.

Blue TOM’s free “This is Memphis Festival” is set for Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at the Levitt Shell. Its featured artists include Ben Callicott, Mary Owens, Drew Erwin, and the Bluff City Soul Collective.

Callicott, according to the Blue TOM label, has an easygoing style comparable to a John Mayer or Jack Johnson. The label’s most recent signee, Mary Owens, has been called an “Emerging Star” from David Porter’s Consortium MMT in Memphis and will be serenading the crowd with tunes from her recently released album, “Sweet Soul.”

Also on the bill is singer-songwriter Drew Erwin, with 12-piece university student band Bluff City Soul Collective rounding out the night.

“‘This is Memphis’ is a small sampling of the very big things happening at the University of Memphis,” said university music industry major Grace Hamm, who runs social media for Blue TOM. “We showcase our best talent every semester to give back to the city we love so much.”

Cooper-Young, meanwhile, is set to play host to something similar soon.

The neighborhood is preparing to extend the festive atmosphere of September – a month that includes things like the Cooper-Young Festival – into October with a celebration called Rocktober.

Starting Oct. 5 and running Monday through Thursday night for four weeks, solo artists, duos and groups will perform in the gazebo at the intersection of Cooper Street and Young Avenue, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Tamara Cook, director of the Cooper-Young Business Association, said the selection of musicians includes many who call the Cooper-Young neighborhood home.

On tap is a lineup of 16 artists who span rock, blues, soul, country, rockabilly and garage rock. Kicking things off Oct. 5 is Tony Manard, who released his first collection of original songs in November and is working on a follow-up for release this fall.

For the Rocktober music series, sponsored by Central Automotive, other musicians and groups to follow include Davy Ray Bennett, Chuck and Nora Are Retroactive, Subtractions, Switchblade Kid and more.

The Halloran Centre’s new music series, which includes seven concerts between October and April, kicks off Oct. 17 with the Chester Thompson Trio. Tickets are on sale now.

Alice Roberts, vice president of programming and education for The Orpheum, said the organization is “thrilled” that the new venue – expected to serve as many as 100,000 students, teachers and families within its first five years – will be able to broaden the scope of music it offers via the new series. Among artists performing as part of it include the acclaimed trio Infinitus, composer Robin Spielberg, and season six “American Idol” vocalist Melinda Doolittle.

Rounding out the list is singer-songwriter Kate Campbell, the Howes Jazz Trio and the hip hop duo Black Violin.

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