News Column

Go Out This Weekend: Outdoor flicks, songwriters and rappers, gospel on the river and more

August 28, 2014

By Chris Herrington, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.

Aug. 28--There are three big multi-day festivals happening this holiday weekend at different points across the Greater Memphis area, as we showcased here, and a couple of very promising new indie films opening at Studio on the Square. But that's far from all. Here, from the Go Memphis writers and editors, are 10 more suggestions of things to do this weekend:

1. "Wattstax" at Levitt Shell, Friday: Coordinated by Indie Memphis, the free "Concert Film Series" at the Shell in Overton Park continues with that famous celebration of Memphis soul, "Wattstax," a 1973 documentary chronicling a daylong concert at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum featuring such Stax stars as the Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes (in a gold-chain cloak), Rufus Thomas (in hot-pink hot pants) and Johnnie Taylor (in a sweat-soaked frenzy). On-screen, Richard Pryor acts as host, but on the stage of the Shell, the movie will be introduced by former Stax executive Al Bell, 74, who supervised the concert and the making of the film. -- John Beifuss

8 p.m. Visit

2. Arkansas Songwriters at Otherlands Coffee Bar, Saturday: Midtown's Otherlands hosts an "All Arkansas" evening of music with an in-the-round song swap among a trio of native Arkansan songsmiths, including Mark Edgar Stuart and Kevin Kerby of Little Rock, and Jim Mize of Conway (who'll be promoting his new self-titled album from Big Legal Mess). Austin James Smith, who claims Wynne as home, opens the show. -- Bob Mehr

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Music at 8. Cover is $7. 641 Cooper.

3. "A Tribute to the Paul Robeson Song Book" at the Kroc Center, Saturday: From Shakespeare to spirituals and even the College Football Hall of Fame, actor and singer Paul Robeson (1898-1976) left a broad cultural impact on the 20th century. A concert at the Kroc Center pays tribute to not only his artistic legacy but also his outspoken advocacy for political and social issues. "He is credited with patterning his career around speaking up for oppressed people, whether it was due to social injustice or worker injustice," says Jonathan Blanchard, the bass vocalist performing in "A Tribute to the Paul Robeson Song Book." "He was a freedom fighter, a rights fighter, for not only African-Americans but for people all over the world." Blanchard will sing a mix of spirituals and other songs, including his signature piece, "Ol' Man River," which he has performed at pops concerts with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. -- Mark Richens

6 p.m.600 East Parkway S. Tickets: $25, available at

4. Iron Mic Coalition at the Hi-Tone Cafe, Sunday: A group of eight core MCs (Jason "Da Hater" Harris, Empee, Mighty Quinn, Mac, Duke, Milk, Daralic, Fathom 9) and one deejay (Capital A), the Iron Mic Coalition came together a decade ago as something of an underground Memphis answer to the Wu-Tang Clan, their gritty, soulful, no-frills style rooted in a love of classic '80s and '90s hip-hop. Their style set them apart from the more dominant Memphis rap sound of artists such as Three 6 Mafia or Yo Gotti, and they were fathers to an alternative scene that has proven inconsistently productive. More part-timers now, the various branches of Iron Mic are reuniting to celebrate their 10th anniversary with a new crew album, The Third Edition: Ten, and a show at the Hi-Tone Cafe. -- Chris Herrington

8 p.m. 412-414 N. Cleveland.

5. "Motorcycle Mayhem" at Summer Drive-In, Saturday: Mildred: "Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?" Johnny (Marlon Brando): "Whaddaya got?" That immortal exchange occurs in "The Wild One," one of four rubber-burning biker pics scheduled to rumble across the screen of the Summer Drive-In for this weekend's "Motorcycle Mayhem" edition of the "Time Warp Drive-In," a monthly program of dusk-to-dawn cult classics. The vroom begins with "Easy Rider" (1969), followed by "The Wild One" (1953), "The Wild Angels" (1966) and the rarely screened "She-Devils on Wheels" (1968), about an all-female biker gang named "The Maneaters." -- Beifuss

7:45 p.m., 5310 Summer. Admission: $10. Visit

6. Stone Soul Picnic at Tom Lee Park, Saturday: The 40th Stone Soul Picnic, sponsored by radio station WLOK, brings gospel acts -- including Darrell Petties, Jubilee Hummingbirds and others -- to the banks of the Mississippi from mid afternoon to late evening. -- Herrington

1-10 p.m.Tom Lee Park. See for more info.

7. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" at Beale Street Landing, Friday: A family-friendly film program intended to encourage Memphians to visit one of the city's newest show pieces, Beale Street Landing, the "Free Friday Flicks" series launches with "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the first movie in the hit franchise about the boy wizard with the TCB scar on his forehead. The movie will be shown on a 25-foot outdoor inflatable screen near the facility's sloping lawn, with the Mississippi River as a backdrop; blankets are encouraged, but viewers are asked to leave their coolers and picnic baskets at home. Concessions will be available. -- Beifuss

Dusk Friday, 251 Riverside Drive. Call 901-312-9190.

8. "Pianos in the Park" at Handy Park, Sunday: Downtown's W.C. Handy Park becomes a haven for smooth jazz lovers on Sunday, as Strictly Jazz Entertainment presents the 5th Annual "Pianos in the Park" event. Houston keyboardist Bobby Lyle and his trio, Memphis sax man Dr. Bill Hurd & the Prime Cut Band, keyboardist Audie Smith, and singer Tamara Jones Monger, will be the talents taking the stage. -- Mehr

Gates open at 5 p.m.; music from 6-9 p.m. Admission for children 12 and under is free. Otherwise, tickets cost $25 and $35. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tennessee.

9. South Main Trolley Night, Friday: The last two weeks of August turned into torrid summer in the Bluff City, but that fact won't deter art lovers and wanderers of the night from attending the South Main Art District Trolley Tour, held the last Friday of each month. Among other activities, we'll point out two opening receptions for exhibitions. At Gallery 363 of Leadership Memphis, there will be a reception for a show of recent work by Brittany Vega, on view through Sept. 22. Call curator Jay Etkin at 901-550-0064. At Sue Layman Designs, a reception will be held for "Conclusion of Delusion," an exhibition of large colorful abstract paintings by Sue Layman Lightman, displayed through Oct. 31. Call 901-409-7870. -- Fredric Koeppel

Gallery 363, 6-8:30 p.m., 363 S. Main. Sue Layman Designs, 6-9 p.m. 125 E. G.E. Patterson.

10. Heartbeat of Memphis Empowerment Concert at Levitt Shell, Saturday: The Memphis Urban League presents the Heartbeat of Memphis Empowerment Concert to raise awareness and resources for its programs, including workforce and economic development for adults and educational efforts for schoolchildren. The free concert takes place at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park, with music from Beale Street regulars Darrell Wilson and The Soul Outsiders. Information will be available for volunteers as well as for job-seekers. -- Richens

7-9 p.m. Levitt Shell at Overton Park.


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