Five years ago I had a dream of starting my own festival. Most everyone I talked with about this thought I was crazy, and they thought I was crazy to do in Memphis
In 2014, we kicked off the first Moon River Music Festival, me and a team of dreamers and doers and in 4 years it has become something much larger than I even thought possible. In 2015, just year 2, we had the highest paid attendance of any event ever held at the historic Levitt Shell, and in 2016 we went even larger to a multi-day event.
As a kid in Memphis, I fell in love with music, and to be able to bring so many of my favorite bands to these sell-out crowds has filled my heart with joy. People from over 30 states (and even from overseas) have to come to Memphis for the festival, to eat BBQ, see the vibrant neighborhoods and make the city their home for a weekend.
Moving forward, we are excited to tell you that because the festival has grown so fast, we are making some big changes; more community, more music, more support of the arts and local charities, more food, more culture, but in order to grow our dreams and visions, we are pushing the festival to 2018.
We have a crazy year ahead of us with the new album, Souvenir, and want to give the new dreams for Moon River the attention they deserve. We can't wait to see you in 2018!
Today is a dark day in America. A day where our worst capacities of hatred and apathy are on full display. The egregious displays of racism from this last weekend reveal the worst parts of who we are, who I am. I know racism exists because I have spent years identifying it in my own heart, and going to battle to fight it. The best way forward for us as a nation, and for any people, is to do a lot more listening. If you, like me, want to understand the voices of people different than you, one way is to read. Read voraciously, the voices and stories of those whose lives look completely different than yours. Here are some books that helped me see the world through the eyes of others. I hope they bring light to your eyes as they did to mine.
1. The Warmth of Other Suns. Isabel Wilkerson. Beautiful and heart-wrenching meta-story of the great migration of 11 million African Americans leaving the South in the Post World War One through the end of the Civil Rights Era. Possibly the best book I have ever read about 20th Century America.
2. A Just Mercy. Bryan Stevenson. My mom recommended this book to me. Bryan is a black civil rights attorney who has spent his life fighting injustice, mainly for those on death row. After reading this book, I finally understood the depth and breadth of the inequality of the criminal justice system in America. He represents the innocent, the inadequately defended, the children, the domestic abuse survivors, the mentally ill, mostly people of color.
3. Between the World and Me. Ta-Nehisi Coates. This is the newest one. This is a book of letters from a father to a son, about the experience of being black in America. It is heartbreaking. I was devastated, still reeling and asking myself about what it means for me to love and understand people who are different than me.
4. Sons of Mississippi. Paul Hendrickson. A book built on a photograph, a photograph of 7 Mississippi sheriffs laughing with clubs, about to engage the civil rights protestors trying to integrate the University of Mississippi. He finds these men in their old age, and their descendants, and tries to understand the roots of racism and white supremacy.