Change Is Coming To The Levitt Shell

Posted by Holly Whitfield | April 4th 2016 4918 0

Last week, Anne from the Levitt Shell took me on a little tour of Overton Park’s outdoor amphitheater, which has been undergoing renovations for the last several months. They plan to open the 2016 season on June 2, just in time to celebrate the Shell’s 80th anniversary.

If you don’t know, the Levitt Shell is an historic outdoor amphitheater built originally in 1936. It’s where Elvis played what some historians consider to be the first-ever rock ‘n’ roll show. In 2008 it was renovated and reopened to provide mostly free live concerts during spring, summer, and fall.

Memphis' Levitt Shell In Action

Memphis’ Levitt Shell In Action

Last year, the Levitt Shell put on about 50 free shows. The artists are a mix of local bands, up-and-coming groups from around the country, and some international acts as well. Anne told me that they’re hoping to announce the 2016 lineup in mid-April. You can be sure I’ll post that here. Get an idea by checking out last fall’s lineup.

And now for the renovation updates:

– The biggest changes will be the completely new, made-for-the-outdoors sound and lighting systems. Also, the draining underneath the lawn has been redone, the lawn itself will be re-sodded, and there is a new band load-in area and storage facility (it’s the little building to the left of the Shell).

– The bathroom building got a new mural last summer; they’re also building a walkway to make it easier to get to the restrooms.

Levitt Shell Deck

That’s the old temporary flooring stacked up. Bye bye muddy “floors”.

– The lawn is basically the same, though, and there is the same amount of seating as before.

Levitt Shell Sponsor Deck Memphis 2

– Instead of tents with temporary flooring, the sponsor area at the top of the hill now has a spacious deck. This better protects the trees (because folks aren’t walking and putting stuff on the roots) and gives those in the sponsor area a better view. The sponsors (and your donations) pay for the concerts and help keep the Levitt Shell free.

View from the sponsor deck area.

View from the sponsor deck area.

– The line of shrubs at the back of the lawn have been replanted elsewhere and replaced with two wooden decks. The central deck is more sponsor area, and the other one is for the general public (wheelchair use, etc.).

Levitt Shell Future Food Truck Area

– The food truck / beer / merch area now has its own area to the right of the Shell (if you’re facing it). It’s gonna be cute. Think tables and string lights and not blocking traffic like the trucks did when they were on the other side.

– Anne told me they’re working on refurbishing a retired trolley from downtown to use as the beer and merch “booth” by next year’s season. Cool.

Levitt Shell General Public Deck

That deck in front of MCA is the one open to rent from the general public.

– Don’t have the big bucks for a sponsor booth but still want to host a shindig at the Shell? They will have a second deck area that the general public can reserve. the Shell will be able to provide seating and linens and catering recs – or you can bring in your own food.

– Reservations for this side deck will open soon, with costs and availability dependent on dates.

Levitt Shell IN Front Of Stage

– The space right in front of the Shell, formerly known as The Mud Pit Where Children Like To Dance, will be paved with bricks that have years and musicians listed. You can sponsor them if you like.

If you can’t wait, note that the Levitt Shell is hosting a free series of Jazz concerts on Friday nights at the Central Library.

Levitt Shell Bike Rack

I highly recommend you avoid parking at the Levitt Shell by riding your bike, walking, Uber-ing, or at the least, carpooling.

Show Comments


  1. […] – The biggest changes will be the completely new, made-for-the-outdoors sound and lighting systems. Also, the draining underneath the lawn has been redone, the lawn itself will be re-sodded, and there is a new …read more […]

  2. Midtowner says:

    What a relief! At first I was afraid you were going to say they were about to start parking cars on the Shell lawn… Great post. Thanks for the update!

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