Memphis has more than its share of live music and music venues. You can find live music somewhere any night of the week. But if you want the best live music, there are certain places you can count on to deliver.
Below is a list with descriptions of what I consider the city's best live music venues. While there are lots of great places to choose from, I narrowed it down to the top six, based on atmosphere and consistency of hosting good musical artists.
Handy Park Pavilion on Beale Street
Handy Park is brimming with musical history, as it is named for W. C. Handy, "Father of the Blues." It is only fitting then that Handy Park thrives with regular and free live entertainment and some special performances.
Blues is a regular thing on Beale, but you can also find country, rock, and other styles of music in Handy Park.
539 South Highland Street
Newby's is primarily a college hangout and a Memphis fixture on the Highland strip. But the shows they host are surprisingly mature for a college bar. Musical acts cover a wide range of styles, including country, blues, rock, and frequently, the impressive Mojo Possum, who can best be described as an experimental-jazz-funk jam band. If you're beyond college age, Newby's is like a time rewind, but the cover and beer is cheap. And the music is worth it.
1555 Madison Avenue
Minglewood Hall is a concert venue in Midtown.
It has a semi-chic lounge feel and hosts some of the best Memphis bands and sometimes big name acts. For show and ticket details, check out the Minglewood Hall website.
1588 Madison Avenue
Nocturnal is a club in Midtown with music of a more electronic variety. While the live music is primarily spun by DJs, Nocturnal also features rockabilly bands and others.
This club has a lot to live up to as the space that once housed the legendary Antenna Club and later Barrister's. But Nocturnal is causing a scene all its own that has attracted some national attention, such as that of The New York Times.
Young Avenue Deli
2119 Young Avenue
Young Avenue Deli, located at the central intersection in the Cooper-Young district of Midtown Memphis, is somewhat of a throwback bar. With Midtown hippies, pool tables, and good, greasy sandwiches, Young Avenue is another Memphis fixture. This bar and deli regularly features live music and sometimes surprises with big-name, fever-inducing shows.
138 Beale Street
Blues City has earned worldwide fame, not only for their ribs but also for the energetic and impressive live shows in their Band Box. Blues City never fails to entertain with lots of Memphis talent and Memphis-themed acts. Freeworld, a jazz-funk fusion band, has become a Memphis music staple featuring some of the area's best musicians, and they play Blues City regularly. For dates and times, check the Blues city music schedule.
1913 Poplar Avenue
As an iconic landmark with an underground vibe, the Hi-Tone influences Memphis' Indie hipster scene as much as it hosts it.
This long-standing Midtown establishment features retro, popular, and up-and-coming acts of several genres, though primarily of an alternative nature. The Hi-Tone is at the crux of progressively ultra-Memphis music.
For a related article, check out Beale Street music venue recommendations.