It’s been a long time coming. The Mississippi has slowly risen to displace an unknown number of area residents, inundate our waterfront, drown our historic cobblestone landing, disrupt Memphis in May, and lay waste to area agriculture. Now we are told the river has hit its crest, the highest the Mississippi waters will get at Memphis during this Great Flood of 2011.
Image by joespake via Flickr
This disaster is not half over
Visits have diminished on my flickr and Youtube accounts; the disaster tourists are tiring of gawking; and it looks like the mentality of getting back to normal is kicking in. But it will probably take about as long for the water to recede as it has for it to rise.
Jim Dickinson got a lot of criticism a few years back for referring to Beale Street as a “city-owned liquor mall”. And now that Performa Entertainment, who managed the historic entertainment district since is re-birth in the early 1980’s, is out of the picture, Mayor Wharton, according to the Commercial Appeal, has put the option of selling Beale Street on the table.
Wharton says: “This is not the artificial river they ran through San Antonio. This is the real thing. Beale Street is not Bourbon Street. Beale Street is not Fifth Avenue. Beale Street is Beale Street.” I guess that depends on what you mean by “real” and your definition of Beale Street.
Joni Mitchell painted a memorable picture of the street at the depths of its decline, in her song “Furry Sings the Blues”. Many of us are old enough to remember the latter days of Beale, perhaps making the rounds of the pawn shops to choose our first guitar.
No matter how you feel about Beale Street: tourist trap, historical treasure, signature Memphis destination, or liquor mall, the bottom line is if the district is not profitable, it will go the way of the pyramid, Overton Square, and the plethora of empty and boarded up buildings in Downtown and around Memphis.
If the street is put up for sale, it’s going to be interesting to see what potential buyers come forward. Will the current merchants be interested in purchasing their spaces? It would be good for the street’s future to have locals with a vested interest in the street’s success. Or will the district be sold to an entertainment conglomerate like CKx Inc., parent company of Elvis Presley Enterprises? Or maybe Foreign investors?
Walking in Memphis – Memphis, TN (travelpod.com)
Letter: A grim scene on Beale Street (commercialappeal.com)
Memphis can sell Beale Street entertainment district, Mayor Wharton suggests (commercialappeal.com)
Memphis Music & Heritage Festival Celebrates Memphis Music Legend Jim Dickinson
Saturday and Sunday, Labor Day Weekend, September 4-5
Image by joespake via Flickr
On September 4 and 5, the Center for Southern Folklore will present the 23rd annual Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, a family-friendly celebration of the music, arts, and culture of Memphis and the Delta Region. The festival will be held from 11:00am ? 11:00pm each day on Main St. between Peabody Place and Gayoso. This Festival celebrates the musicians, artists, craftspeople, cooks, talkers, dancers and more who come together each year and show Memphians and tourists alike why Memphis is such a special place, said Judy Peiser, Executive Director of the Center. There are three outside stages and two stages inside the Center for Southern Folklore.Â Best of all, admission to the public is FREE!
Each year, the Center for Southern Folklore salutes a musician at the Festival whose life and work have left their mark not only on the music of Memphis, but on the Center itself. This year, we celebrate Jim Dickinson, said Peiser, an icon among Memphis musicians and fans, a talented and versatile performer and producer, and an unforgettable personality who the Center had the privilege of calling a friend. In addition to providing musical inspiration for this year?s Festival, Dickinson will be featured on Festival posters and t-shirts designed by Tennessee artist Gray (image reproduced below.)
In a career that spanned five decades, Dickinson?s work embodies the Memphis music scene that he helped to shape, from his early recordings for Sam Phillips to the recordings he produced of his sons and their band the North Mississippi All-Stars. After gaining respect as a session piano player for studios like American, Ardent, and Sound of Memphis in the mid-1960s, Dickinson became the keyboardist for the Dixie Flyers, a rhythm section that backed Atlantic artists such as Aretha Franklin and Sam and Dave. He continued throughout his life to be a featured player with some of music?s biggest names, playing piano on the Rolling Stones Wild Horses and keyboards on Bob Dylan?s Time Out of Mind.
Jim Dickinson also remained a fixture of Memphis music, recording and performing as a solo artist and a member of bands like Mud Boy and the Neutrons (with Sid Selvidge, Lee Baker, and Jimmy Crosthwait) who author Robert Gordon called the missing link between the Rolling Stones and Furry Lewis. Dickinson earned a reputation as an outstanding producer, recording highly-regarded albums with a wide array of artists including Big Star, The Replacements, and Screamin? Jay Hawkins. He became a larger than life figure whose talent and dedication cut across genres and generations and garnered admiration from fans and peers alike. In the words of Bob Dylan, If you?ve got Jim Dickinson, you don?t need anybody else.
Throughout the years, Dickinson maintained a special relationship with the Center for Southern Folklore. He performed regularly at the Center?s annual Memphis Music and Heritage Festival. His first public performance with his young sons Luther and Cody took place at the Center on Beale Street. Dickinson also collaborated with Judy Peiser and Knox Phillips to produce Piano Man, a CD featuring Mose Vinson. This was the first and only album for the eighty year-old performer. The love and devotion for Memphis and its music shared by Dickinson and the Center made him a natural partner.
Judy Peiser said, Jim showed us what is right about music from the people who made it to the fans who understood the sound, beat, and soul of Memphis music. Last year’s festival had a major void without Jim. This year we celebrate the man who made us all understand why the music of Memphis, from the church to the barroom is special and unique. As Dickinson himself said, I’m just dead, I’m not gone.
The Memphis Music & Heritage Festival is produced by the Center for Southern Folklore with generous support from the Tennessee Arts Commission, Arts Memphis, and Arts South. More information about this year?s festival, including featured musicians and artists will be announced in the coming weeks on the Center?s facebook page http://www.facebook.com/southernfolklore, website http://www.southernfolklore.com, and mobile app to be launched in late August.
The Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, defending, and protecting the music, culture, arts, and rhythms of the South located at 119 S. Main St. Memphis, TN.