The Beale Street Music Festival, a cultural buffet known as “The Fest,” returned for its special Bicentennial year, once again taking over Tom Lee Park in Downtown Memphis for a musical celebration spanning the first weekend in May.
As always, this year’s ongoing edition featured an array of talent from various genres of the music spectrum and thousands of music-loving fans.
Despite crazy weather, fans benefitted overall from the addition of extra musical acts and high-energy performances during the three-day, legendary festival.
While headliners such as Cardi B, Moneybagg Yo, India Arie, and Blocboy JB drew large crowds to The Fest, anyone who has ever attended the event knows that the genre tents, local acts and food are the essential components to making the annual festival one of the highlights Memphis.
Day One: Friday, May 3
Fans had to exercise patience on the festival’s opening day after rumors of possible severe thunderstorms heading to the Bluff City caused a few short delays.
But that didn’t stop fans from showing massive support for hip-hop recording artist Blocboy JB just a few hours after he had been arrested on several charges. While many had wondered if the Memphis native would make his showtime, there he was live and in full effect as he hyped the crowd with his chart-topping hits to his popular “Shoot” dance.
Afterwards, fans continued to gaze on in excitement as BMG hip hop recording artist Lil Dicky hit the stage, followed by superstar R&B crooner Khalid, who closed out the Terminix stage, thanking Memphis fans for the overwhelming love.
Blues lovers enjoyed the harmonic sounds of local artists such as the Ghost Town Blues Band and Guitar Shorty nearby at the Coca-Cola Blues tent.
“How can you have a festival without the sounds of Memphis blues, it’s the culture, it’s only right”, said festivalgoer Frank Jordan.
Day Two: Saturday May 4
On day two of The Fest, I had a chance to survey the grounds, bouncing from blues to hip hop to various main stages and points in between. I took in bits and pieces of nearly a dozen sets throughout the cold and rainy day before settling on the Bud Light stage anticipating India.Arie.
Prior to her performance, Memphis artists Action Pack (AP) and Kevo Muney gave a huge dose of Memphis flavor while showcasing their energy-fueled singles for the first time.
“I mess with this festival life,” AP said via Facebook.
R&B superstar Charlie “Uncle Charlie” Wilson cranked out his legendary music to a faithful crowd of fans, while Outkast frontrunner Big Boi proceeded to take over The Fest as he praised Memphis culture with a musical tribute, alongside RCA hip-hop recording artist G-Eazy.
Day Three: Sunday, May 5
CMG recording artist Moneybagg Yo opened the festival on Sunday in front of the most eclectic crowd of the weekend. Performing his popular singles, the “Say Na” artist had the crowd live, while Atlanta hip-hop artist 6lack (Black) kept the energy going as he gave samples of his latest and upcoming music.
However, it was international superstar Cardi B who had fans waiting in the park for hours. She surely did not disappoint.
The former “Love and Hip-Hop” cast mate had fans screaming for nearly a mile radius. Flaunting a red cat suit and matching heels, the “Bodak Yellow” artist gave an electric performance that I’m sure many will never forget.
“You know what, let me tell you something,” Cardi B said. “I shouldn’t really be performing. I should have cancelled today cause moving too much is going to mess up my Lipo.”
“I love Cardi,” said Brenda Jackson. “And I missed her when she came to Landers a couple years ago. …There was no way I could miss her, seeing (that) she was so close to home; and it was lit.”
(For more information and details on BSMF visit their website at www.MemphisinMay.org)