No rest for the musicians: Labor Day weekend has traditionally been a great time for local bands to strut their stuff, and this year is no exception. As always, there's way too much to choose from, but here (in no particular order) are some of the top picks for the weekend:
The Center for Southern Folklore's 15th annual Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, which kicks off on Friday, August 30th, has become a destination for music aficionados around the world. Most importantly, the festival is free, which makes it an event the entire city can appreciate. So head downtown this weekend and help celebrate the men and women whose art and music make this region special. The 2002 highlights are sure to include Sun rockabilly alumni Billy Lee Riley, Smoochy Smith, Sonny Burgess, and Eddie Bond, Stax stars Carla and Marvell Thomas, gospel giants The Spirit Of Memphis, The Vance Ensemble, and The Sensational Six, and bluesmen such as the indomitable Rev. Gatemouth Moore, Mose Vinson, and local faves The Fieldstones. Here's the tentative schedule:
Friday, Aug. 30th. Inside the Center: Gospel Harmony, 7 p.m.; the Daddy Mack Blues Band, 8 p.m.; Sonny Burgess and the Pacers, 10 p.m. Trolley Stage (on Main Street): the Tearjerkers, 9:15 p.m.; the Reigning Sound, 10:15 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 31st. Inside the Center: Di Anne Price & Her Boyfriends, 2 p.m.; Keith Brown, 3 p.m.; the Vance Ensemble, 4 p.m.; Billy Gibson & David Bowen, 5 p.m.; Rev. Gatemouth Moore and Calvin Newborn, 6 p.m.; the Eddie Bond Revue, 7 p.m.; the Orange Mound Jazz Messengers, 8 p.m.; Blind Mississippi Morris, 9 p.m.; Ace Cannon, 10 p.m. Trolley Stage: Jimmy Crosthwait, 4:15 p.m.; the Memphis Drivers, 6:15 p.m.; Becc Lester & Hank Sable, 7:15 p.m.; the Bluff City Backsliders, 8:15 p.m.; the Kattawar Brothers, 9:15 p.m.; Exodus, 10:15 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 1st. Inside the Center: Old Man Johnson & the Cooter River Jass Band, 2 p.m.; the Fieldstones with Mose Vinson, 4 p.m.; Smoochy Smith & W.S. Holland, 5 p.m.; Koleinu Klezmer Revue, 6 p.m.; Los Cantadores, 7 p.m.; Billy Lee Riley, 9 p.m.; Carla Thomas, 10 p.m. Trolley Stage: Jimmy Crosthwait, 3:15 p.m.; Carol Plunk, 4:15 p.m.; John Sinclair, 5:15 p.m.; Spirit Of Memphis Quartet, 6:15 p.m.; John Kilzer, 7:15 p.m.; the Sensational Six, 8:15 p.m.; Jason D. Williams, 9:15 p.m. Call 525-FOLK for more info.
Between sets on Saturday, head over to Shangri-La Records for a preview of the bands on A History Of Garage & Frat Bands In Memphis Vol. 2. The CD encompasses the paler side of the Memphis Sound, circa '60 to '75, as compiled by local garage-rock historian Ron Hall. The Village Sound -- who recorded at Stax in '68 -- will perform "Sally's Got a Good Thing," and The Merits will sing "Please, Please Little Girl" a cappella, while The Reigning Sound will back Mike Ladd of The Breakers ("Don't Send Me No Flowers" is gonna be "a trip," Hall promises). Lawson & Four More and other groups will also perform. But will the Frayser Flash and the Los Angeles Smog Division make appearances? "Nobody knew what to think of LASD," Hall tells me. "They were a wild group, with strobes and liquid lights on stage. And their sound was totally alien to this area." He calls their single, the Jim Dickinson-produced '60s opus "Blue Green" (a bonus track on this CD), "the holy grail" of Memphis psychedelic rock. Strap on your goggles -- the party starts at 2 p.m.
On Sunday afternoon, the Dickinson clan is planning a party of its own. A reprise of last summer's All American Jamboree, this free concert at The Raoul Wallenberg Shell in Overton Park will feature The North Mississippi Allstars, Lucero, Burnside Exploration, and three members of Mudboy & The Neutrons -- Jim Dickinson, Jimmy Crosthwait, and Sid Selvidge. They'll start shakin' at 2:30 p.m.
Keep your dancing shoes on: Director Dan Rose, who's here screening a final cut of Wayne County Rambling, his feature-length road-trip movie, hopes the entire town will turn out for one helluva party Sunday night at Young Avenue Deli. Voudoun practitioners Fan Fan & Minokan Société will start things off with a salutation to Papa Legba around 10 p.m.; afterward, the crowd can boogie to the sounds of Detroit madmen The Dirtbombs and legendary bluesman Eddie Kirkland. The show will be a sort of homecoming for the Jamaican-born Kirkland, who toured with Otis Redding's band in the '60s and recorded "The Hawg" for Stax in '63. The MGs backed him on that venture, but Sunday's performance will feature the ever-versatile Reigning Sound. Here's hoping that Memphis musicians Ron Easley, Tav Falco, Lorette Velvette, Othar Turner, and Cordell Jackson -- who all have roles in the film -- will also be on hand for the celebration.
Andria Lisle covers local music news and notes each week in Local Beat. You can e-mail her at email@example.com.