U of M students perform at the Levitt Shell

Drew Erwin performs original songs at the third annual This is Memphis festival. University of Memphis students and community members gathered around the Levitt Shell on Sunday night for the show.

Sunday’s This is Memphis festival was filled with breath-taking performances, spirited Memphians congregating for enjoyment, delicious foods, and perfect feel-good fall weather.

The This Is Memphis festival, presented by the University of Memphis Music Industry Department, was held Sunday, Oct. 2 at the Levitt Shell. The lineup featured student artists, Aaron James, Kyndle McMahan, Drew Erwin and The Band CAMINO, who are signed to the student-ran record label on campus, Blue TOM Records. The label is also a class offered at the U of M.

Students were both exclusively the creative and operative forces behind the event. All members of the stage production (instrument set-ups, sounds, and lighting) as well as the the heavily talented musical artists themselves were U of M students.

“Putting this show together was great hands-on experience.” U of M junior in music industry and recording technology, Novienne Muldrow said. “The students in this program are in charge of dates, times, marketing, venue, stage production, lighting, sound, we use ProTools, everything; it’s important to learn hands on for future opportunities.”

For most of these students, this event provided opportunities for first time happenings.

“This was my night to finally do something under my own name,” performer Aaaron James said. “I’m so grateful to have the chance to share my story and my experiences through my music in hope that while I’m figuring myself out, my music will help those listening find themselves.”

James also currently plays lead guitar for local alternative rock band Sleepwlkrs. Fellow festival performer Kyndle McMahan also plays in other bands outside of the U of M, including Memphis Ukulele Band and Mason Jar Fireflies. She enjoyed her solo performance at This is Memphis as well.

“Although I have performed many times alongside great artists such as Al Kapone, Frayser Boy, and The Bar-Kays, this is the first time I am saying ‘This is who I am, no one else just me!’,” McMahan said. “It’s never too late to be yourself and promote you– Always be yourself.”

The upbeat energy and uplifting vibes from these Memphian artists flowed from their words and instruments into the Levitt Shell crowd. The sounds of the bass impacted attendees’ chests and intertwined with their heartbeats, really allowing listeners to feel the music.

“This is an awesome opportunity to be playing at the Levitt Shell, this is a legitimate stage, and the band’s first time performing here,” Spencer Stewart of The Band CAMINO said.

Jeffery Jordan, another member of The Band CAMINO, was proud to play the historic Levitt Shell.

“This venue has a long history,” Jordan said. “The Levitt Shell was the first place Elvis performed, and he is Memphis, so to be here performing is an epic opportunity that can open many doors.”

The finale of the show included a song that showcased each artist together with an additional surprise collaboration with Academy Award winning Memphis rapper, Frayser Boy. The crowd was up on their feet and at the base of the stage dancing and vibing to the song.

“I’m a Memphis Tiger lover, it’s an honor to show up and rock the stage.” Frayser Boy said. “I came to show my support for the city and one of my favorite schools in America.”

Performer Drew Erwin also played last year’s This is Memphis festival.

“It’s really important to showcase the Music Business program at the U of M and how much it really has grown in the past few years and all of the things that Professor Yonas has put in place,” Drew Erwin said. “Yea, this is Memphis, but there’s young people here and we are serious about music and we can put on a show on our own.”

The next festival manned by the University of Memphis Music Industry Department is scheduled to take place in Spring 2017. The Hear901 concert will need volunteers. Anyone interested in being involved can contact Professor Ben Yonas for more information at bgyonas@ memphis.edu.

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