The idea of “Memphis in Poland” project was born in 2015 during the international festival known as “Memphis in May”, with Poland as its main theme.
The festival honoring our country has been named the best cultural happening in the southern United States by the popular newspaper, USA Today. Ryszard Schnepf, the past ambassador to the Republic of Poland in the United States, who was received as an honorary guest at MIM 2015, is the author of the idea of “Memphis in Poland”, and the Polish-American Society of Memphis is its main coordinator. The project aims at not only to reciprocate the beautiful honoring of Poland and Poles by Memphis, home of blues, rock’n’roll, and soul, however, it also strives to capture the success of the Memphis event in effort to tighten the bonds between Poland and the United States on the basis of mutual fondness for music, culture, and similar aspirations of both nations in recent history.
The events happening during the “Memphis in Poland” festival are planned for June of this year in Sopot, Gdańsk, and Warsaw. The main musical event will be taking place at the Forest Opera on June 17 (buy tickets). The concert will feature a performance from a popular polish band lead by Sławek Wierzcholski, the “Blues Night Shift” (listen), who’s music is well-known in the southern United States and appreciated during its many tours and events such as the “International Blues Challenge” in Memphis. Two bands from the USA will be representing Memphis style music – rock, blues, and soul. The first the band is a group known as the “Memphis Mix” (listen), which was formed by Dr. Marcin Arendt, professor at the Rudi Scheidt School of Music as well as member and manager of the IRIS Orchestra. The full line-up of the blues-rock-soul band includes: Marcin Arendt (violin and mandolin), Susan Marshall and Rebecca Arendt (vocals), Heather Trussell (violin), Joe Restivo (guitar), Sam Shoup (bass guitar), and Pee Wee Jackson (drums). The second American band is the “Rock for Human Rights” (listen) group whose leader is Wil Seabrook (vocals, guitar). The band also includes: Cassidy Turbin (drums), Tieg Johnson (vocals, guitar, piano), and Chris Rolontz (bass).
The “Memphis Mix” will also perform on June 13 at the Concert Shell and on June 14 at Theater BOTO, whereas, “Rock for Human Rights” will additionally play on June 15 at the Concert Shell and on June 16 at Atelier Club.
Memphis in known in the southern USA not only for its music and history, as it is also widely famous for its “barbecue”. Fans of grilled pork, chicken, ribs, and other various meats cooked in Memphis style will have a chance to try these delicacies on June 17 and 18 at the Sopot Hipodrom during the “Memphis BBQ Fest”.
The performance of “Rock for Human Rights” is thematically tied into the educational part of the Festival. Its main component will be an exhibition on the legacy of freedom and the Freedom Award, organized jointly by the European Solidarity Center in Gdańsk and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Lech Wałęsa was the laureate of the Freedom Award in the year 1999. The inauguration of the exhibition, combined with a performance from the “Memphis Mix”, is planned at the ECS for June 12. The exhibition will be open until July 3.
The event will be followed by lectures from: Dr. Noelle Trent, director at NCRM – on the for civil rights movement in the USA (June 12 at ECS, June 13/14/15 at Sopot Museum), and Wil Seabrook – on human rights contained in the declaration of the UN (June 16 at Sopot Museum).
FOREST OPERA / FINAL CONCERT / JUNE 17 / 7:00 PM