The First MEMPHO Music Fest: 2017 Recap

Posted by Holly Whitfield | August 16th 2018 1369 0

Ed. Note: Contributor Baylee attended the inaugural Mempho Music Festival in 2017. Here’s her take on last year’s event.

Mempho returns October 6-7, 2018 at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, featuring Beck, Post Malone,  Phoenix, Nas, Janelle Monáe, and many more. Stay tuned for a 2018 Mempho preview post in the new week or so. More info and tickets.

Thanks to Adrian Berryhill for the stellar photos.


Nestled in the back of Shelby Farms Park, Memphians gathered on October 6 and 7, 2017 for the inaugural Mempho Music Festival. It was advertised as being a celebration of Memphis’s music, food, and nature, and, I have to say – Mempho Fest delivered.

I’ve attended many music festivals big and small and around the world. From Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee to Parklife Music Festival in Manchester, England, I’ve seen enough to know what can make a music festival mediocre, magnificent, or just plain awful.

Some aspects can’t be controlled such as the crowd, the weather, or the quality of the live performances, but with solid planning and execution any festival can be a success if the right atmosphere is cultivated. Mempho Music Festival exceeded expectations on several fronts especially considering the size and the newness of this endeavor.

An eclectic lineup featuring Grammy Award winning artists

There was a flavor of music for anyone at Mempho Fest. From the rock n’ roll of Cage the Elephant to the fluid rap of Anderson. Paak and The Free Nationals, all ages could enjoy the international artists who graced the stages. Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, Cold War Kids, Steve Cropper, and Bishop Briggs are all critically-acclaimed or rising artists who would have potentially missed Memphis without the pull of this festival.

An abundance of local artists found themselves with slots on the lineup as well including Southern Ave, Reverend John Wilkins, Star and Micey, Dead Soldiers, and Stax Music Academy. Mempho Fest strived to be both a celebration of Memphis’s musical heritage and a look towards the blossoming future.

Supporting local businesses

From Wiseacre beer to your favorite local food truck, you could tell the founders of Mempho Fest wanted to support our local economy as best they could. Leading up to the festival, Mempho Fest also engaged several local partners clearly indicating their effort to not only join the community, but bolster it.

Picturesque festival setting

As the third pillar of Mempho Fest’s tagline, nature did not fall to the wayside behind the music and the food. It felt almost as if Shelby Farms was begging for a festival to take place there. The smell of fresh-cut grass filled the air (instead of beer and sweat I might add), and the stages were set back in pleasant pockets of the park.

During the day, we were graced with sunny yet relatively mild weather for Memphis which set the tone nicely for the event. At night, the trees were backlight with stunning colors and the seclusion of the area transported you to a mystical musical paradise. Short lines, plenty of open space, and only two stages made the festival easy to navigate and easy to enjoy.

Easy to access

Shelby Farms Park is located in a perfect location for many Memphians. It’s right off I-240 making the commute from Downtown, Midtown, or any of the North and South suburbs if not short, at least easy. The park is also closer to the eastern suburbs than Beale Street Music Festival or Moon River Music Festival, which was an added perk for Memphians in those areas that always gear up for the trek to the city center. If you were really feeling the Memphis spirit, one could even ride the Greenline straight to the festival grounds.

Getting to the park was no problem for most festival goers – the problem arose once you reached (or were attempting to leave) Shelby Farms Park. Ubers and Lyfts were only able to pick up after walking 15-20 minutes away from the festival center, and general parking lots were a lengthy schlep from the main entrance as well. Although the rest of the festival was executed perfectly, there’s room for improvement on the transportation end.

Check out the Mempho Music Festival website (http://memphofest.com/) to get more information for this year’s event. You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


About The Author
A born and raised Memphian, Baylee Less recently returned to her roots after her four-year hiatus at the University of Maryland. A contributor to I Love Memphis and Memphis Travel, she is excited to share the reasons she’s always loved Memphis. She enjoys live music, Asian food, and being outdoors. Follow @bayleeless on Twitter for updates about being vegan in the land of barbecue.


Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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