This year's Beale Street Music Festival afforded me the opportunity to enjoy a very satisfying mix of hip hop, blues, R&B, jazz and funk all played out against a backdrop of gorgeous weather that made outside the place to be.
On Friday night, Snoop Dog, aka Snoop Lion, rolled out hit after hit, going back to classics "Gin and Juice" and "Nuthin But a G Thang" and sending the crowd into a cheering-and-singing frenzy with "Who am I (What's My Name). The younger generation in attendance seemed to know all of the lyrics to all of his songs.
On Day 2, I positioned myself to hear Buddy Guy, my homey from Chicago. Guy's show is electrifying and worth every effort it takes to get there. He showed why there are those who are convinced that his is the best blues act going these days.
Next up was Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. While they haven't been on the national scene of late, you wouldn't have been able to tell by the crowd's reaction. Moving about the stage throughout their performance, they intermingled non-stop with the crowd that matched the group's energy beat for beat.
Chic Corea and the Vigil put on a show that was a jazz enthusiast's dream. And while the size of the crowd was meager initially, as the ear-pleasing sounds spread it was cool to watch people who didn't give off jazz-enthusiasts vibes make their way toward the stage to hear the jazz legend.
My personal highlight for the evening was R&B diva Patti Labelle. Backstage before her performance, she signed a few autographs on the bottle of her signature barbecue sauce for lucky fans. If you are not familiar with Patti Labelle in the kitchen, this lady can cook.
Labelle, 70, has a commanding presence. Moments before taking the stage, she engaged everyone in her dressing room in prayer.
She came out on stage strutting. As soon as she opened her mouth and you heard that powerful unique voice, you knew that you were about to get her normally classic show. Her first song was "When You Talk About Love."
Let me get comfortable," Labelle told the crowd. She sat down and grabbed her high heels, telling one of her assistants to take them. Then came an array of her hits called out by her music producer without the iconic Labelle knowing what would be called for next. At one crowd-rousing moment, she shouted out that she loves her some Memphis.
On Sunday, the final day of this year's rain-free Memphis in May event, I ventured out to see and hear one of my favorite funk makers, Bootsy Collins. When I arrived, the crowd was shouting, "Bootsy, Bootsy!" After about a 25-minute delay because of mic problems, the show started.
The band came out in space outfits, jamming one of Bootsy's hits. That bass was thumping. Bootsy made his way to the stage in classic Bootsy dress from head to toe. The former bass player for Parliament Funkadelic mixed his hits with an array of hits from his former group as the funky good time rolled on.