Memphis, Tennessee; the birthplace of American blues music, home of iconic labels like Stax Records and Sun Records, and of course, a world-famous location for great barbeque. It also has a fantastic jazz scene, which we’ll be exploring in this rundown of the best jazz clubs in Memphis.
Jazz music was invented and blossomed during the twentieth century as a musical fusion of cultures, marrying West African beats with the blues and America’s marching band instruments. As the birthplace of the blues, it comes as no surprise that the Memphis’ live jazz scene is still alive and kicking to this day.
Memphis’ nightlife is as good as you’d expect from one of the world’s most well-known music cities. The city is known for its warmth, and residents are laid-back, friendly, and always eager to discuss their new favourite band or hangout spot.
Beale Street is the epicentre of Memphis’s musical and cultural entertainment. With over twenty-five clubs and stores along the street, it’s no surprise that the well-loved Beale Street brings together both locals and tourists. It’s a great starting point for a tour of the best jazz clubs in Memphis. Beale Street is home to some of the best jazz and blues clubs in the country.
If you travel further afield, you’ll find that Memphis’s nightlife is much more diverse, ranging from oddball pubs and local craft breweries to independent theatres and performing arts organisations.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top jazz clubs that Memphis has to offer.
Best Jazz Clubs in Memphis
BB King’s Blues Club
This three-story bar pays homage to the legendary blues superstar BB King. The crowds are made up of a diverse range of people, from budding artists to tourists and locals.
Fellow artists frequently stop over to listen to their peers making it a great spot for meeting like-minded musicians. Live gospel music and brunch or outdoor barbecues are especially popular on Sundays.
Admittedly, this venue is more of a blues club than a jazz club but the quality of music on offer is too good to leave it off this list!
The club is a famous tourist spot on Memphis’s historic Beale Street, with live musical performances every night of the week ranging from real blues to classic soul, jazz and rock & roll. The food menu is full of Southern staples.
Club 152 is a well-known after-party and dance venue on Beale Street. If you enjoy dance music, it should be on top of your list!
There are three levels, each catering to a distinct musical taste. The ground level is more laid-back, with live music in the evenings and DJs spinning records late into the evening.
Jazz, pop, soul music as well as Southern food can be found on the ground level. The second floor is a private club for employees in the service industry. The Shadows, the upper level is closer to a traditional nightclub and is open only on Fridays and Saturdays.
Two full-service bars, one on each level, serve drinks and masterfully prepare cocktails. Club 152’s attendance is young by Beale Street standards, and the atmosphere is lively and high-octane.
Earnestine and Hazel
Earnestine & Hazel’s is a popular hangout for those looking for delicious affordable meals in a funky juke joint setting.
Get a cool beer and a meaty “Soul Burger” smothered in mustard and onions. The bar’s classic jukebox is a popular attraction and is jam-packed with classic Memphis soul and funk tunes.
Earnestine and Hazel is an iconic bar and one that played a vital role in Memphis’ musical history. Playing soul, jazz, and blues from the beginning, celebrities such as B.B. King, Tina Turner, and Aretha Franklin all sought refuge in this tiny dive bar after their gigs in nearby clubs.
Earnestine and Hazel’s exemplify what Memphis is all about: amazing music, great food and great ambience.
Family-owned for twenty years, the bar is now owned and run by a group of close friends who work hard to keep it the same classic nightclub that we have known and loved for years.
Earnestine and Hazel’s is above all a beer and burger joint but you can also catch some great live music from local jazz musicians and other artists.
Boscos Restaurant & Brewing
Tennessee’s first brewpub is Boscos Restaurant & Brewing Co. Boscos has been acknowledged as a craft brewing leader in Tenessee, in addition to being the state’s first post-prohibition restaurant-brewery.
On Sundays, there’s a Jazz Brunch where you can enjoy your Eggs Benedict and Belgian Waffles with live jazz from the local scene. It’s well worth a visit next time you’re in town.
So there we have it. Our quick tour of the city’s jazz scene, which includes some of the best jazz clubs in Memphis. If you live in Memphis or are familiar with the area, we’d love to hear from you in the comments with any further suggestions on where to see – or play – jazz and blues music.
The label ‘Discover Jazz’ is attached to articles which have been edited and published by Jazzfuel host Matt Fripp, but have been written in collaboration with various different jazz musicians and industry contributors. When appropriate, these musicians are quoted and name-checked inside the article itself!