Get ready for the 31st Annual Memphis Music & Heritage Festival

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Sharde Thomas and The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band
  • Sharde Thomas and The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band
For Memphians, the days leading up to Labor Day are synonymous with good local music. For over three decades, the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival has filled the holiday weekend with select local sounds, often reaching far back into the region's history. This coming Saturday and Sunday are no exception.

One strength of the festival is its eclectic sampling of local cultural traditions. Latino, Native American, gospel, jazz, bluegrass, electronica, hip hop, rockabilly, reggae, rock, and blues of all stripes will be available. This diversity has been cultivated since day one by Judy Peiser, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Southern Folklore, the non-profit that stages the festival. Peiser has just been honored for her dedication to promoting local music and culture with a brass note on Beale Street, to be dedicated on Sunday.

A recurring treasure of the lineup is Jimmy Crosthwait, erstwhile member of Mudboy and Neutrons and creative dynamo of Memphis for over forty years. This year, he'll be joining country blues master Zeke Johnson, who learned a thing or two from Furry Lewis himself. Guitar virtuoso Luther Dickinson will also bring some folk and blues flavors to the proceedings.

Many other fine performers will grace the five stages (click here for a complete schedule). But surely the highlight will be Sharde Thomas and The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band. Thomas carries on the tradition of her grandfather Otha Turner, playing fife and leading a drum corps that epitomizes country funk and soul. Though they are based in North Mississippi, the band's appearances in Memphis are all too rare. Not to be missed!

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