VOL. 131 | NO. 87 | Monday, May 2, 2016
Last Word: BSMF Looks Up, Overton Park Respite and Slow Economic Growth
By Bill Dries
The Beale Street Music Festival box office numbers won’t be in for a bit yet. But it looks like the three-day event that ended Sunday evening with Beck and Paul Simon weathered the weather very well, maybe better than usual.
If the numbers bear that out, I would think some of the reason would be the good reputation the festival is getting for being very affordable for a dedicated segment of travelers who are either following bands or picking one or more music festivals to attend. BSMF is also seeing a pay-off from its experience. It’s not Coachella or the New Orleans Jazz Festival. But it also isn’t just another stop on the festival circuit either. This is also a good spring into summer concert season across the country which means a schedule that has a balance between the new and the ongoing with most of the ongoing artists with a significant body of work rising above the status of nostalgia act.
Those coming to BSMF are also better about picking their spots which is a larger version of watching where you step in Tom Lee Park. In this case, it is looking for clear patches as the weather rolls in and having some place to go when it’s not a clear patch.
I’m guessing some of the Downtown restaurants and bars did very well during Saturday’s windy part.
A respite in the Overton Park Greensward saga on Saturday as a result of the weather and BSMF. But only a respite. Nevertheless it is a poignant reminder of the value of this public land and its institutions.
Two historical markers unveiled Sunday in different parts of Memphis.
One at Galloway and Cooper in Cooper-Young marks the church now known as Galloway Place where Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two played their first gig in the 1950s.
This is the church where Cash’s daughter, Rosanne, came in 2014 to talk about “The River and The Thread,” an exploration of her childhood in Memphis and other parts of her life that won here a number of Grammys that year. The next day, she performed to a huge crowd at the Levitt Shell.
Also formally unveiled Saturday was the historical marker noting the 1866 Memphis Massacre – three days of racist mob violence in Memphis begun by the city’s police force that ended with 46 people dead and every black church and Freedmen’s school in the city burned to the ground.
The marker is at Army Park at Second Street and G.E. Patterson Street, which 150 years ago this week was one of the epicenters of the violence.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland was among the speakers before the unveiling, telling the crowd pointedly, "Let's make no mistake -- it was a massacre." That's a reference to the Tennessee Historical Commission's decision to change the wording proposed by the NAACP to include calling it a "race riot" as a heading with the term "Memphis massacre" below that.
As a result, the NAACP and the National Park Service did the plaque without the state historical commission.
Andy Meek’s cover story in our weekly, The Memphis News, looks at the slow-growth U.S. economy in advance of Thursday’s Daily News Money & Markets Seminar. The keynote speaker at the gathering, McVean Trading’s chief economist Michael Drury, talks in the cover story about the presidential race and its role or lack of a role in what happens next with that economy. Memphis is what Drury refers to as a “late-cycle city,” which would seem to confirm our status in very slowly coming back from the recent recession. And there is the caution those at the levers of local development feel in putting more weight and more money on the local economy.
Meanwhile, Madeline Faber has the wrap on last week’s RegionSmart conference on regionalism by the Urban Land Institute. The gathering featured a speech by Tom Murphy, the former mayor of Pittsburgh. Some of you will remember Murphy as an outspoken member of the ULI advisory services panel on what to do with the Fairgrounds. So Murphy’s remarks were not what we sometimes get when leaders of other cities – former or current – come to town. That is a cookie-cutter speech they are often giving at multiple stops on a circuit where they sub out the city’s name at key parts in the speech.
For the first time in more than 25 years, a Shelby county bank has failed. The word on Trust Co. Bank broke late Friday
There have been more exciting budget seasons locally than the one we currently find ourselves in. That is attributable to the high probability that neither city nor county governments will be raising their property tax rates with the new fiscal year.
But there are some factors to watch on both sides of the Main Street Mall.
At City Hall, the factor to watch is the six new council members who are proving to be quick studies when it comes to the ways of the budget season.
We have the recipients of the annual Bobby Dunavant Public Servant Awards, which we sponsor with the Rotary Club of Memphis East.
Look for FedEx to close soon on its merger with TNT Express now that the Chinese government has given its approval to the deal.
Don Wade on Paxton Lynch in Denver.
More follow up on the one that got away from Dallas in the NFL draft – Paxton Lynch. CBSSports.com has reaction from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
AP has more on the saga of the dominant figure of the first round NFL draft -- for all of the wrong reasons – Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss and now the Miami Dolphins.
Some of you made the drive to Little Rock Saturday to see Paul McCartney.
Sir Paul’s backstage guests at the show included two of the Little Rock Nine, the group of high school students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
Rolling Stone talks about the connection and has a video clip from the show.
The Memphis News Almanac: The Pyramid reopens, plane crash in Crosstown, Casey Jones leaves Memphis and the Memphis massacre.