Who Is Playing At Beale Street Music Festival?

Posted by Holly Whitfield | February 13th 2020 3362 0

Update March 19, 2020: All Memphis In May events for 2020, including Beale Street Music Festival, International Salute to Ghana, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, and the Great American River Run have been postponed until fall 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 27, festival organizers will announce new dates for the event and also provide information on refunds.

Ed. Note: With more than 70 acts at this year’s Beale Street Music Festival, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who was familiar with every single band.

Luckily, Baylee has done the research for us. Here’s a rundown on the headliners and Baylee’s top 7 picks for must-see artists at this year’s festival. But wait—there’s more—we also have a Spotify playlist with songs from each of the bands so you can be ready for the music come May.

If you just want to see a list of the artists, go here. For tickets, go here.

For Tips & Tricks for Beale Street Music Fest, go here.

Top photo by Michael Butler.


The Headliners

This year, Beale Street Music Fest’s headliners include several of the hottest hip-hop acts around, big-name folk and indie artists, and retro musical icons. Our showstoppers are The Lumineers, The Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, Lil Wayne, 311, Brittany Howard, Three 6 Mafia, Portugal. The Man, The 1975, The Avett Brothers, DaBaby, MoneyBagg Yo, Liam Gallagher, Leon Bridges, Deftones, Lindsey Buckingham, Young Dolph, Nelly, Mavis Staples, and AJR. 

Let’s quickly take a look at our Top 8 (shoutout to MySpace).

First up, we have the rustic folk tunes of The Lumineers, who are touring their third studio album III. (Fun fact: The Lumineers actually visited Memphis in 2013 and performed their debut album as an unknown little act at The Hi-Tone in it’s old location.)

Then, there’s prolific raspy rapper Lil Wayne, alt-rockers Weezer, and the psych-grunge band Smashing Pumpkins; each of these acts rose to fame in the mid-90’s and early 00’s, but have consistently released quality hits since their respective peaks. Swirly indie pop-rockers The 1975 will pull in a wild young crowd, most of which will stay for the buzzy quick-witted performance of DaBaby.

Finally, we have renowned bluegrass artisans The Avett Brothers, and Memphis’s own hip-hop notables Three 6 Mafia to round out the lineup splendidly.

Head to Tom Lee to get that “Good Feeling” with wavy rockers 311, experience the “River” with R&B virtuoso Leon Bridges, or “Live in the Moment” with indie bad boys Portugal. The Man.

Here’s the day-by-day Beale Street Music Festival for 2020:

My Top 7 Picks 

Although festivals are prime opportunities to see some of the superstars of the music world, they are also convenient and exceptional chances to discover new artists.  My picks include:

Icelandic rockers Of Monsters and Men
Of Monsters and Men slipped easily into the hearts of indie fans with their 2011 viral tune “Little Talks.” Nine years later, this group continues to release mystical folk-pop songs. From their most recent album FEVER DREAM, my favorite tracks include “Wild Roses” and “Rororo.” 

Dream pop songstress beabadoobee
Still a newcomer to the global music scene, beabadoobee creates bedroom pop; some melodies lean acoustic and others have a rock edge. Either way, I can’t get enough of her fresh sound.

Ghanian rap master Sarkodie
Our 2020 partner country for Memphis is May is Ghana, and acclaimed hip-hop music maker Sarkodie will represent the West African country at BSMF. Although Sarkodie raps mostly in his native language, any listener can feel his message through the smooth delivery and eclectic melodies. His 2019 album Black Love exudes energy and passion.

Gospel icon Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples requires no introduction, and this timeless soul-stirring musician is a must-see at this year’s Beale Street Music Fest. Although she’s known best for her time in The Staple Singers, Staples proves herself time and time again as a tour de force as a solo performer.

Southern blues artist Lisa Mills
Lisa Mills’ newest project The Triangle compiles all the best Southern sounds of blues, country, and rusty rock-n-roll. Plus, her dynamic vocals strike a similar vein to that of Melissa Etheridge.

Indie pop trio AJR
New York based troupe AJR weave pop-electro beats with horns, flourishes, and keys to produce a signature sound. Both fans of indie rock and pop music can agree on the harmonious electricity of AJR.

America’s soulful siren Brittany Howard
Brittany Howard, best known as the leading lady of Alabama Shakes, builds her music from deep base lines and impeccable vocals. Her homegrown album Jaime is named in memoriam of her sister who passed of cancer when they were young.

Moneybagg Yo, BSMF 2019. Photo by Sean Davis.

Local Artists

There’s plenty of Memphis representation on the lineup this year, including aforementioned Three 6 Mafia and Mavis Staples. Moneybagg Yo returns for the second year, and we also have Young Dolph, Project Pat, Al Kapone, Lil Wyte, Amy LaVere and many more to look forward to.


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.


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