Memphis musicians find new ways to perform amid Beale Street restrictions

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Historic Beale Street is back in business, but with a different feel and without live music and audiences.

Singer Stefanie Bolton misses being on stage and doing what she loves to make a living.

“Oh yes, I miss the live interaction and friends and people I haven’t seen in forever because we’ve been on this lock down,” Bolton said.

But after the lock down, it meant performing in a new way.

“To find the clubs and everything was done, we had to be innovative and find something else to do generate a little income,” Bolton said.

She and her musicians Charles Streeter, Darryl Sanford, and James Kinard are using Facebook as their new stage to connect with fans.

“They have seen us around the city for so long. Us coming and saying five, 10 dollars to the cash app while we entertain you for an hour. It’s like nothing to a lot of these young people,” Bolton said.

Memphian Charles Streeter has played with everyone from Jennifer Lopez, Chaka Khan To Prince.

“A lot of musicians, they don’t have anything. A lot of them are now doing Uber Eats, GrubHub and deliveries now. It’s been very hard,” Streeter said.

He came up with the concept for “Mid-Day Vibe.”  They perform every Thursday at 2 p.m. on Facebook live.

“Just to be able to still play and still give out love and receive love in return. It’s been a huge blessing,” Streeter said.

“It’s been very difficult for Memphis musicians,” said Kevin Kane, president and CEO of Memphis Tourism. “Most of them are independent contractors, work for themselves and have been shut out.”

Rodd Bland is a drummer with Brimstone Jones, a teacher with School of Rock and the son of blues legend Bobby Blue Bland.

“To go from having a full calendar for the month of March to April and get a notification that from now to further notice everything has been cancelled or shutdown, it’s difficult,” Bland said.

These are difficult times as musicians use innovative ways to perform, but also long to be back on Beale.

“Ready to back to Beale Street… ready to go back the places that embrace us,” Bolton said.

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