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Memphis' 10 Unmissable Events and Festivals in August 2014
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Memphis' 10 Unmissable Events and Festivals in August 2014

Picture of Michelle Combs
Updated: 9 February 2017
By Michelle Combs

Memphis, Tennessee, is known for the sound of the Delta Blues and the taste of Southern barbecue. However, the city is also home to a thriving theatre scene centred in Midtown and a trendy gallery district in the Cooper-Young District. This comes together to make for a vibrant cultural scene year-round. Our picks for August’s top events showcase cultural variety Memphis has to offer, on and off the beaten path.

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Art | Andy Warhol Portraits: Art and Irony at the Art Museum at the University of Memphis

12 July – 13 September

The Art Museum at the University of Memphis presents Andy Warhol Portraits: Art and Irony to coincide with the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art’s simultaneous exhibit Marisol: Sculptures and Works on Paper. Both Marisol and Warhol were Pop Artists working at the same time and colleagues, with Marisol performing in Warhol’s films. Beyond the Campbell’s Soup cans and Brillo pads, some of Andy Warhol’s best-known works are his portraits. Don’t miss this opportunity to view a generous sample of the Warhol portraits in the Art Museum’s collection and especially the opportunity to appreciate these works in conjunction with the Marisol exhibition at Memphis Brooks.

Art Museum at the University of Memphis, 3750 Norriswood Avenue, Memphis, TN, USA +1 (901) 678 2224

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Art | Nick Peña: Processing the Ideal at Dixon Gallery and Gardens

13 July – 5 October

Reflecting on the contemporary American landscape and the social and political norms that shape it, native Memphian painter Nick Peña creates arresting canvases that challenge the viability and reality of the American Dream. His latest show, Processing the Ideal is on display at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens through early October. Heavily infused with nostalgia, Peña’s works deconstruct the notion of the American home, situating familiar imagery in a fragmented landscape. While visiting the Dixon Gallery, explore the arboretum and the extensive manicured gardens, peppered with contemporary sculpture. Visitors may also enjoy a retrospective exhibition of American Impressionist Charles Courtney Curran, also on display during August.

Processing the Ideal, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, 4339 Park Avenue, Memphis, TN, USA +1 (901) 761 5250

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Music | Live at the Garden Summer Concert Series

1 August, 22 August

The Live at the Garden Summer Concert Series runs from June to September, bringing popular music acts to the beautiful setting of the Memphis Botanic Garden. The series opened with country music group Little Big Town and continues through August with country artist Jennifer Nettles performing on 1 August and classic rock stars Styx on 22 August. Food vendors are on site for the event, but concertgoers are free to bring in their own food and beverages. Enjoy the beautiful weather that summer brings to Memphis in one of the most unusual concert venues in the city.

Live at the Garden Summer Concert Series, Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry Road, Memphis, TN, USA +1 (901) 636 4100

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Film | Memphis 48 Hour Film Project

6 August

Over the weekend of 1-3 August, local filmmakers of Memphis will compete in the 48 Hour Film Project in which they are challenged to complete a short film in only 48 hours, as the name would suggest. After the films are completed, Malco Studio on the Square will host the premiere of the films on the evening of 6 August. This showcase of Memphis’ talented filmmakers is part of a nationwide tour of the 48 Film Project. Winners of the Memphis competition have a chance to go on to compete at the international level, with the top 10 films of the competition nationally being screened at the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner in 2015.

Memphis 48 Hour Film Project, Malco Studio on the Square, 2105 Court Avenue, Memphis, TN, USA +1 (901) 725 7151

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Theatre | Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis

7 – 9 August

For cultural travellers who prefer live action to cinema, look no further than the Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis. Housed in The Circuit Playhouse and other theatres in the Memphis Midtown Theatre District, the festival promotes theatre written for and by women and recognises accomplishments by women in the theatre world. Performances include Long Time Since Yesterday, Bijou’s Secret, Camp Logan, and Teaching: A Futility in Four Marking Periods. Shows are performed throughout the day and evening on Friday, 8 August and Saturday, 9 August. The festival also hosts numerous workshops, readings and bestows the Gyneka Awards, honouring outstanding women in Memphis theatre and beyond.

Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis, The Circuit Playhouse, 51 Cooper Street, Memphis, TN, USA +1 (901) 726 4656

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Art | Cooper Young Night Out

7 August

The first Thursday of every month, the artsy Cooper Young District hosts the Night Out, celebrating local galleries and restaurants with one big open house. A balmy August evening will provide the perfect backdrop to this gallery hop. Enjoy the current exhibitions in Jay Etkin Gallery or Gallery Fifty Six during extended hours, and stop in Central BBQ for some authentic Memphis barbecue or have a late dinner in style at The Beauty Shop. Local musicians are on the streets playing live music to accompany the cultured evening, and the restaurants and bars will remain open long after the galleries close.

Cooper Young Night Out, Cooper Street & Young Avenue, Memphis, TN, USA +1 (901) 276 7222

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Music | 12th Annual Memphis Tri-State Blues Festival

16 August

A short drive south on Interstate 55 from downtown Memphis will transport music lovers just across the Tennessee state line into Mississippi for the 12th Annual Memphis Tri-State Blues Festival at the Landers Center in Southaven. Performers this year include Denise LaSalle, Shirley Brown, Bobby Rush and Mel Waiters. With performances from these blues legends and more, this promises to be an exceptional evening that showcases the cultural legacy of the Memphis blues locally and its lasting influence internationally. Savour some of the best examples of the genre in the city where the blues was born.

12th Annual Memphis Tri-State Blues Festival, Landers Center, 4560 Venture Drive, Southaven, MS, USA +1 (662) 280 9120

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Music | An Evening with Crosby, Stills & Nash at Orpheum Theatre

20 August

Continuing with the theme of musical legends, classic rock superstars Crosby, Stills & Nash will be playing an intimate show in the historic Orpheum Theatre downtown in one the biggest music events of the summer in Memphis. The 1928 theatre is a stunning venue, resurrecting the opulence of the Roaring ‘20s and living up to its reputation as the ‘South’s Finest Theatre’. The Orpheum is also home to Ballet Memphis and Opera Memphis and hosts 10-12 Broadway shows throughout a season. The theatre only offers seating for 2,400 guests, providing a cosy setting in which to enjoy this renowned trio who gave their first performance together at Woodstock 1969.

Crosby, Stills and Nash, Orpheum Theatre, 203 South Main Street, Memphis, TN, USA +1 (901) 525 3000

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Theatre | Stick Fly at Hattiloo Theatre

21 August – 14 September

Set in Martha’s Vineyard, the play Stick Fly revolves around the tension created when the two sons of an affluent African-American family bring their significant others on holiday to meet their family for the first time. Critically acclaimed, the play will make its debut in Memphis at the Hattiloo Theatre in late August and run through mid-September. The Hattiloo Theatre, located in the Memphis Midtown Theatre District, is a Black repertory theatre, showcasing the talent of African-American playwrights and writers. It has collaborated with Ballet Memphis and the Dixon Gallery and produces 8-9 plays each season.

Stick Fly, Hattiloo Theatre, 656 Marshall Avenue, Memphis, TN, USA +1 (901) 525 0009

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Food | Cochon Heritage BBQ Competition

24 August

The Cochon Heritage BBQ Competition tours barbecue meccas across America, showcasing the wide variety of this uniquely American dish. This is no ordinary competition. Chef teams must use one whole heritage breed pig to produce six distinct dishes consisting of four meats and two sides. Five highly talented chef teams will go head-to-head, and the audience of the competition ultimately decides the winner. Tickets are a bit of an investment, but for foodies with a serious love of barbecue and a desire to taste and see the flavours that set Memphis style barbecue apart, this event will be well worth the price.

Cochon Heritage BBQ Competition, Beale Street Landing, 251 Riverside Drive, Memphis, TN, USA