Memphis restaurateur Matt Wilson, owner of Swanky’s Taco Shop and Cheffie’s Cafe, wants to do his part to fight back against the coronavirus. So he’s hosting a series of socially distanced, live-streamed concerts, which he has dubbed the Don’t Let Me Down Mem series. “It just keeps coming together,” he says. “It’s great.”
The series works to raise funds for Slingshot Memphis, a group that aims to create a demonstrable reduction in poverty by promoting a results-driven poverty-fighting ecosystem. “Their model was perfect for what I wanted to do, which is to serve the underserved community of Memphis,” Wilson says. Audiences can watch the performances live on the Don’t Let Me Down Mem Facebook page and on dontletmedown.org.
The series was inspired by The Beatles’ iconic rooftop concert, in which they performed “Don’t Let Me Down” with organ player Billy Preston. The first performance was at the historic Chisca Hotel rooftop. “Social distancing is so important right now,” Wilson says, explaining why he moved the performances inside one of his empty restaurants after the first performance with Walrus. Though they tried to be diligent, it was harder to maintain the appropriate distance on the roof. Social distancing procedures have been followed at the indoor performances.
Performers have included Walrus, The City Champs, Black Cream, Turnstyles, and members of Star & Micey. Amy LaVere and her husband, singer/songwriter/guitarist Will Sexton, are performing Thursday, April 9th, at noon. Upcoming performances will include Doll McCoy with Streeter & the Tribe on Friday, April 10th, 2-4 p.m.; and Bailey Bigger and friends (including Mark Edgar Stuart), Saturday, April 11th, 7-9 p.m. “You don’t have to watch it live,” Wilson says, explaining that past performances are also hosted on the Don’t Let Me Down Mem Facebook page and on dontletmedown.org.
“If we’re going to change the city,” Wilson told himself, “you’re going to have to do whatever it takes to make it happen. To make it happen, to make it last, and to make a big enough impact.”