The holidays are fast approaching, but don’t worry, it’s not all holiday carols and corny/lovable Christmas tunes (though there is some of that…) Check out this list for a roundup of live music in Memphis this month – from hip hop to classical to soul, and everything in between. We threw in a few early December shows so you could save-the-date for next month.
In April, Atlanta rapper and R&B artist 6LACK – pronounced “black” – released East Atlanta Love Letter featuring Future, J. Cole, and Khalid. Regardless of the features, 6LACK’s second studio album dazzles with genuine stories and alluring beats. Check out my favorite track “Switch.”
These three young musicians may hail from cloudy, crowded New Jersey, but their sound undeniably exudes a sunny, vibrant energy. Concentrate, their debut album, premiered early this year and brings a folky groove to alternative rock.
Hosted by the University of Memphis’s label Blue TOM Records, This Is Memphis festival showcases a diversity of rising Memphis student and alumni artists. This year’s lineup includes the Back Pockets, Sienna, Phillip Bond, Bailey Bigger, JD, Estes, and Dylan Amoré.
Did you like SZA’s debut album CTRL? You may not know that a Memphis native, Cody Jordan Fayne or ThankGod4Cody, produced a handful of the tracks. He’s now hosting an album event in his hometown, and it’s guaranteed to be special – extra special considering local multi-talent Don Lifted will contribute accompanying visuals. It’s unclear what his new sound will include, but ThankGod4Cody plays with hip-hop, electronic, and R&B elements.
Indie rocker Mac Demarco established himself as an unpredictable nature, but Memphians still weren’t ready for his surprise concert (this concert) announcement at Mempho Music Festival this year. It was almost as if he decided to play this show on the stage. He’s wonderfully weird and a talented live act you need to catch, especially within the jazzy atmosphere of our Lafayette’s Music Room.
Return to the early 2000’s with Hoobastank’s tour honoring the 15th anniversary of their iconic rock hit “The Reason.” If you don’t know it, you definitely didn’t own an iPod. Plus one of my personal soft rock throwbacks Secondhand Serenade will open the show.
Crosstown Arts launched “SPINS,” a monthly DJ series hosted in their newly minted Green Room. In November, DJ CAPITAL A will make you groove with his 90’s hip-hop inspired tracks. You’ll hear West Coast rap sounds within electronic flurries and soulful effects.
Singer-songwriter Sam Bean creates peaceful, folk harmonies and moving lyrical moments through his project Iron & Wine. His effervescent voice glides over acoustic strums and light Americana percussion sounds to form a collection of entrancing lullabies.
9. PJ Morton, Minglewood Hall, Wednesday November 21st, show at 8 p.m., all ages
If you want some new wave funk, gospel, and soul, snag tickets to PJ Morton’s show at Minglewood Hall. His fifth studio album Gumbo includes a cover of the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love” that everyone urgently needs to hear. If you haven’t heard of this guy – he’s a member of Maroon 5 and he’s a three-time GRAMMY award-nominated artist – and he’s on the forefront of the neosoul scene.
10. Super T Thanksgiving Show, The Hi-Tone (Big Room), November 22, 9 p.m. , $10 adv./$15 door, 18 and up
You’re done with dinner and done with your crazy cousins…so get out to the Hi-Tone for this annual Memphis tradition.
11. Negro Terror w/ Lipstick Stains, et al, The Hi-Tone (Small Room), November 23, 8 p.m., $5, 18 and up
Coming off the world premiere of their feature documentary (and live performance) at Indie Memphis Film Festival, local punk band Negro Terror brings us their hardcore original music, supported by other local artists for a high-energy, intimate show in the Hi-Tone’s smaller room.
Anita Baker won over adoring fans with her stunning voice and contemporary R&B sound in the 80’s. This Grammy-award winning artist designated – not one, but – two shows in the soul capital of the world, so let’s offer her a warm, Memphis welcome.
University of Memphis Chorus. Photo courtesy IRIS Orchestra.
13. IRIS Orchestra’s Season of Wonder Concert feat. U of M Chorus, GPAC, December 1, 7:30 p.m., $45 – $60
Welcome the holiday season at Germantown Performing Arts Center with a performance from IRIS Orchestra and the University of Memphis Chorus featuring a mix of classic and surprising contemporary interpretations of carols.
14. A Victorian Holiday With Opera Memphis, Dixon Gallery, Dec. 14 – 15, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.. $25, all ages
Do you have nostalgia for Christmases gone by…wayyy by, like maybe before you were born? Do you love the aesthetic of a Victorian holiday? (Who doesn’t?) Are you curious about what wassail is? Join the uber-talented Opera Memphis at this special event with caroling, drinks, beautiful performances, dancing, magical illusions, and more holiday fun. Even though this is mid-December, I wanted to include it so you could get your tickets before they sell out.