Series boasts local fan favorites and national acts

MEMPHIS, TN— From beloved, local artists to notable, traveling acts, the talent taking over the Overton Park Shell this season is sure to get folks fired up to return to their favorite, backyard venue.

Running May 17 through October 12, the 2024 Orion Free Concert Series will showcase 34 free entertainment experiences at the historic Midtown, Memphis bandshell that has played host to big industry names since the 1930s including Elvis Presley, The Allman Brothers, Otis Redding, Big Star, Isaac Hayes and more.

“Free Concerts at The Shell are back! This year, we are crossing all genres and creative programming to give access to The Shell’s mission boldly and without barriers, with special emphasis on Memphis artists,” said Overton Park Shell Executive Director Natalie Wilson.  “We are truly honored to be a safe, joyous place for all walks of life in Memphis and Shelby County as we celebrate the incredible talent of our Memphis arts and music scene.”

Revered partnerships in the Series like the Sunset Symphony in collaboration with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Country Blues Festival, the Annual Stax Music Academy Showcase, PowerPop Festival, Shakespeare at the Shell with TN Shakespeare Company, Opera Memphis and DreamFest Weekend will all make a return—and this year’s dynamic lineup doesn’t shy away from the ever-evolving landscape that characterizes the local music scene.

With the additions of the Memphis Black Arts Alliance Gospel Night featuring Tennessee Mass Choir and BODYWERK, the first electronic dance event The Shell has ever showcased, concert attendees will be exposed to a unique mix of artistry and creative expression.

Alongside new programming, there will be moments that pay homage to Memphis’ rich music history. The iconic Bar-Kays have brought their legendary sound to The Shell numerous times since their band’s beginnings—and they’re running it back for a 60th anniversary performance.

As the Overton Park Shell gears up for another great year of building community through music and education, there are plenty more announcements to come. Stay tuned!


SUMMER SCHEDULE: All shows start at 7:30 pm

  • Friday May 17th-Sunday, May 19th: Dreamfest Weekend
  • Friday, May 24th: Lukah with Hope Clayburn & The Fire Salamander
  • Sunday, May 26th: Sunset Symphony
  • Thursday, May 30th: Black Opry
  • Friday, May 31st: BODYWERK with Takuya Nakamura
  • Saturday, June 1st: Laura Denisse
  • Thursday, June 6th: Sister Hazel
  • Friday, June 7th: King & Associates
  • Saturday, June 8th: Perpetual Groove
  • Thursday, June 13th: Cedric Burnside
  • Friday, June 14th: Lamont Landers
  • Saturday, June 15th: Black Hippie
  • Thursday, June 20th: Magnolias
  • Friday, June 21st: Talibah Safiyah with MadameFraankie
  • Saturday, June 22nd: Sweet Lizzy Project
  • Thursday, June 27th: Shemarr Allen
  • Friday, June 28th: Cowboy Mouth
  • Saturday, June 29th: Annual Stax Academy Summer Showcase

FALL SCHEDULE: All shows start at 7 pm

  • Friday, August 30th: MonoNeon
  • Saturday, August 31st: Power Pop Festival: Matthew Sweet
  • Saturday, September 7th: Cyrena Wages
  • Friday, September 13th: Healy
  • Saturday, September 14th: MBAA Gospel Night: TN Mass Choir
  • Friday, September 20th: Canti Records
  • Friday, September 27th: Aaron James (Unapologetic)
  • Saturday, September 28th: The Bar-Kays
  • Sunday, September 29th: Opera Memphis: Opera Goes to Broadway
  • Friday, October 4th: Stax Museum Presents: Los Yesterdays
  • Saturday, October 5th: Memphis Harvest Band
  • Saturday, October 12th: Memphis Country Blues Festival 
  • Sunday, October 20th: Shakespeare at The Shell: Comedy of Errors


The Overton Park Shell was built in 1936 by the City of Memphis and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The Shell was designed by architect Max Furbringer and built for $11,935. Furbringer modeled it after similar bandshells in Chicago, New York, and St. Louis. The Overton Park Shell is one of a handful of the original 27 bandshells built by the WPA that is still standing.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Shell was the site of the memorable Memphis Open Air Theater (MOAT) orchestra performances, light opera and musicals. In 1947 the Memphis Federation of Musicians launched its Music under the Stars series, free to the public. On July 30, 1954 Elvis Presley took the stage before headliner Slim Whitman. Elvis stole the show in what music historians call the first-ever rock and roll show. And it happened at the Shell in Overton Park.

Over the years, there have been numerous efforts, some to revitalize the Shell, and some to destroy it. In 2005, the Shell partnered with the City of Memphis and the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation to renovate the Shell, and present 50 free concerts every year. It was renamed Levitt Shell at Overton Park, and renovation followed in 2007. It opened again with free music for all on September 4, 2008.

In 2022, The Overton Park Shell honored its historic past, returning to its roots and its original name with a focus on local support and self-sustainment while staying true to the mission of building community by providing easily accessible entertainment to all.

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From Jeff Hulett and Shelby Smith