Day 2 of the 2016 Beale Street Music Festival
Review + Photos by L Paul Mann
April 30, 2016 | Memphis, TN – Meteorology threatened to play a major role in the plans for the Beale Street music festival for a second day in a row at this years event. But on the second day it was not the torrential rains like the day before that threatened the ambitious live music schedule, but instead an early morning dramatic windstorm. The wind was so damaging in fact, that the first sets of the day had to be canceled, while a small army of technicians worked feverishly to repair the damage to the infrastructure. But once the festival did get underway, the rest of the scheduled bands pretty much played on schedule late into the night. Luckily, for the much larger crowd on this second day, the rains from the night before had completely subsided by the time the delayed gated opend at 3PM. The storms had left large mud fields, however, that forced festival goers to become creative artful dodgers of the stickiest parts of the field. Savvy entrepreneurs could actually be seen near the four festival entrances selling budget waders to a receptive crowd.
But muddy feet seemed to be a small price to pay for the chance to see such incredible live music, from so many music genres. The second day of the festival was probably the most pop music oriented day of the three, with a much younger base audience than the day before. But there was plenty of music for the older generations of festival goers as well. The Blues tent was again a refuge for blues loving fans. The musical talent on display in the tent offered up one phenomenal act after another. Charles Wilson kicked things off with a set drenched in Chicago blues. It is hard to believe he recorded his first single back in 1964 at the age of 7. Canadian Jack Semple followed up with a guitar drenched set of funk laden blues music. The most unusual set in the tent came next with the duo of Magic Dick and Shun Ng. Magic Dick was the harmonica player for the legendary rock group, The J. Geils Band. He teamed up with singer, guitarist, songwriter, Shun Ng. The young musician was born in Chicago but raised in Singapore. The unlikely pair fused a unique brand of blues unlike anything that came before it. Guitarist Luther Dickinson played next. Dickinson was yet another veteran gem of a musician found playing on the unassuming blues tent stage. His pedigree includes, forming the North Mississippi Allstars with his brother Cody and a stint in the Black Crowes. His blues rock guitar lit up the crowd in early evening. It was hard to top this impressive day of music from such accomplished musicians in the blues tent, but the Serbian siren, Ana Popovic rose to the challenge. The golden haired goddess of blues guitar simply shredded for the entirety of her closing set.
Meanwhile the outside stages were offering up some of the biggest names in mainstream pop. The Fedex stage offered an eclectic mix of music starting with Miami rapper Lunchmoney Lewis playing in his bathrobe. He was followed by veteran hard rockers Better Than Ezra. California Hip Hop artists Cypress Hill took the stage next, in front of the first massive crowd of the day. An older crowd flooded the field for an evening set by Canadian veteran rockers the Barenaked Ladies next. The band played lots of new music mixed with a few of their classics. The group also played a song called “Passcode,” dedicating it to their friends the Violent Femmes, who were actually playing at the same time on the Rockstar stage. The band ended their set with a bang, playing the Led Zeppelin classic, “Rock And Roll”. Meghan Trainor closed the Fedex stage with a pop laden, grandiose set full of dancers and musicians.
Along with the quirky and just plain interesting set by the Violent Femmes on the Rockstar Stage, bands like Moon Taxi, Houndmouth, and The Front Bottoms also played. But it was the closing set by Modest Mouse that brought the biggest crowds to this stage.
Meanwhile, the Bud Light stage offered up its own diverse musical offering. Living blues rock legend, John Mayall, took over the slot for the only no show at the festival, Jonny Lang. The octogenarian singer guitarist, played hard rocking blues in the vein of Jimi Hendrix, in a classic rock trio with his masterful bass and drummer. It is hard to believe, as he tells the story that “I wrote my first song as a 19 year old English soldier during the Korean War”. The guitarist is a living marvel. Another legendary performer followed his set, the country rocker, Lucinda Williams, with her band of veteran musicians. The music changed up yet again for the next set by California Chicano rockers Los Lobos. The Latin infused jam rockers fired up the crowd as the sun began to set. By the time darkness engulfed the stage, a completely different crowd of mostly teen music fans had swarmed the front of the stage for the next set. Hometown hero Yo Gotti, had the young audience in a dance trance euphoria for his big energy Hip Hop set. But the best was yet to come for young fans of Hip Hop, with the closing set by mega hit maker Jason Derulo. The young rapper led an impressive band and dance troupe through a set laden with his biggest nightclub hits. The rapper also showed his talent as a dancer and real R&B singer as well, offering up a phenomenal high energy set.
It would have been hard for any true live music fan not to find at least some bands to they’re liking in this most incredibly diverse day of musical mashups.
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