One of the great joys of living in Midtown Memphis in the days before digital photography was being able to walk into the Walgreen's on Union Avenue on any given day and have a conversation with noted Civil Rights photographer Ernest C. Withers who, prior to his death in 2007, could often be found there waiting for his latest roll of film to be developed. He was a common, down-to-Earth man with an uncommon talent for documenting the extraordinary people and events that shaped Memphis in the last half of the 20th century. Soon those who never had the chance to talk to the man while waiting to pay for cough drops and a bag of Cheetos will have an opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the Mid-South's most important artists and documentarians.
An agreement has been struck between Beale Street's Performa Real Estate. and the Ernest C. Withers Trust to create museum to preserve and promote Withers' photographic legacy.
The $5 Cover rollout picks up steam tonight as the 15-"track" series has its world premiere at Malco's Paradiso. There are screenings at 7, 7:15, 9:30, and 9:45. The three earliest screenings are currently sold out, but extra tickets may be available at the last minute and will be sold via a wait list at the door. There are some tickets still remaining for the 9:45 showing. Tickets can be purchased at the Paradiso box office starting at 3 p.m.
You can read about the series in our cover story this week, on the streets and on the web now.
Craig Brewer will also be interviewed a 5 p.m. today on The Chris Vernon Show at 730 AM. (Personal plug: you can hear me every Tuesday at 5 p.m. on the Vernon Show.)
$5 Cover Amplified, a series of companion documentaries on the local musicians featured in $5 Cover premiered at Studio on the Square Tuesday night.
I'd only seen a preview reel of the docs, which were produced by a team led by Alan Spearman and also including Andria Lisle, John Hubbell, and Eileen Meyer. So this premiere was my first look at the films, which are unusually personal and thoughtful portraits of these artists. These films will be available via FiveDollarCover.com and other sites starting Friday.
I don't have it in me to write long about them at this point, so for now I'll just give a series of one-liners on what I remembered most about each film. But first, let me issue an apology to Alicja Trout and her band the River City Tanlines for an oversight in this week's print edition: I accidentally left her and her band out of a sidebar to our main $5 Cover story that listed and commented on each of the featured musicians. Hopefully, I didn't forget anyone here:
"I'm listening to Billy Joe Shaver/I'm reading James Joyce/Some people think I have the blood of the lamb in my voice," Bob Dylan wheezes on "I Feel a Change Comin' On," the penultimate track on his new album, Together Through Life, which hit record stores today. It's a pretty good self-portrait of a Great American Artist who, in the past decade, has rediscovered the freedom to ignore his unique stature and have fun with his music again.
I meant to post this at the beginning of the day, but production on this week's paper (see the mammoth $5 Cover cover story, on the street tomorrow) and various "breaking" "news" distractions prevented that. I just got the record yesterday and am still working my way through it, but I've responded to Together Through Life quicker than I did Dylan's last record, 2006's Modern Times.
The spring/summer concert season for the Levitt Shell at Overton Park — including folk singer Todd Snider and blues/roots master Corey Harris — has been finalized and is now up on the venue's web site.
This second concert season at the refurbished Shell will run Thursday, May 28th through Sunday, June 28th with five concerts each Thursday-Sunday for five consecutive weeks.
The format remains the same as the inaugural season last fall: "Americana" on Thursdays, "R&B/Soul/Gospel" on Fridays, "Kids" concerts followed by "Musica Latina" on Saturdays, and "World Rhythms" on Sundays. All concerts in the series are free.
Texas folk-country songwriter/bandleader Lyle Lovett will bring His Big Band to Minglewood Hall Tuesday, July 14th, the Midtown venue announced today.
Tickets for the concert, which is a seated, general admission event, are $61.50 and will go on sale at 10 a.m. this Friday, available at the Minglewood box office or at MinglewoodHall.com.
"'Honey, I don't believe this,' the old man at Ferguson's Cafe kept saying to his wife as he read aloud The Memphis Star and their account of what went down that night. 'It says he took a shit on the stage and started throwing it into the crowd. But he was gone before the cops could come and shut him down.' The night G.G. Allin came to town."
— "The Night G.G. Allin Came to Town" - The Drive-By Truckers
Memphis has witnessed a lot of rock and roll. But very few shows have become as instantly legendary as GG Allin's 1991 gross-out concert at the Antenna Club (now Nocturnal) on Madison Avenue. As the Drive By Truckers accurately reported on their album Pizza Deliverance, Allin shoved the microphone in his anus, defecated on stage, and flung feces at the crowd while singing about how he was a suicidal, scatological dude with a split personality. Anybody who missed this landmark (skidmark?) performance can get a taste of what it was like when the Murder Junkies, the late Mr. Allin's like-minded band, takes stage to sing about heroin and stiff cold fucks at the Hi-Tone Cafe tonight. It's all part of Wrecked 'Em Fist III, a free annual sleaze-punk festival thrown by Memphis punk label Wrecked 'Em Wreckords.
$5 Cover, Craig Brewer's MTV web/television series on the Memphis music scene, has its world premiere this Thursday with four screenings at Malco's Paradiso Theater.
But before that, there are a couple of opening acts tonight and Tuesday night at Studio on the Square.
Tonight, a selection of the Flipside Memphis documentaries — mini films from the Live From Memphis crew that examine assorted Memphis cultural topics — will screen at 7 p.m. at Studio.
It took a little longer than expected this evening, but the next step in the Michael Oher saga at least has an address: Baltimore Ravens. With Oher still sitting on the draft board at pick 23, the Ravens traded their first round pick (26th overall) and fifth-round pick to the New England Patriots.
Oher will be expected to compete for the job to protect the blind side of Ravens' excellent second-year quarterback Joe Flacco.
Video of Oher's selection from NFL.com.
The kid grew up in a rough, poor neighborhood, disadvantaged at birth by a broken home. He was one of 13 kids, didn't know his dad, mom was a drug addict. He was in foster care sometimes. Sometimes he was homeless.
Then, serendipity struck. In a series of events, the kid got into a good private school as a special case, then he was invited into the home of an affluent, white family who took pity on the struggling black kid. Then they became his legal guardians. Then he got good at football. Then he was recruited at a major college to play ball. Today he's going to be picked in the first round of the NFL draft.
It sounds like a Hollywood story. It's actually a tale straight outta Memphis. The kid is Michael Oher, and today he's going to be made a millionaire.
The On Location: Memphis International Film Festival continues Saturday at Ridgeway Four with a lengthy slate of films headlined by a "Fright Night" group of horror movies.
Of these, the most compelling might be Flick, which screens at 7 p.m. A grindhouse-style mix of horror, comedy, and music, Flick stars Faye Dunaway as (yes, really) a one-armed cop from Memphis on a professional exchange in Wales where she ends up trying to track down a rockabilly teen zombie bent on revenge.
Think I'm making all this up? Check out the trailer:
The On Location: Memphis film festival gets underway full boar on Friday at Malco's Ridgeway Four. The feature attraction on Friday could be Bi the Way, a documentary about the apparent increase in bisexuality among younger generations of Americans in recent years. Bi the Way, which debuted at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival, is co-directed and produced by native Memphian Brittany Blockman, currently a medical student at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Blockman and partner Josephine Decker filmed Bi the Way on a cross-country trip that tabbed case studies, sex researchers, and opinion makers (most notably the always-sharp Dan Savage, of the syndicated sex-advice column "Savage Love") from coast-to-coast, including one bisexual woman in Memphis, where a significant portion of the film was shot.
Trouble the Water, a startling documentary about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath told from the perspective of a couple of New Orleans residents who braved the storm, debuts on HBO tonight at 7:30 p.m.
The film, which takes place partly in Memphis, got a local theatrical run here last September. You can read my Flyer review from last fall here.
The On Location: Memphis International Film Festival kicks off tonight with a screening of the acclaimed documentary Prom Night in Mississippi, a film about actor Morgan Freeman's attempt to integrate the high-school prom in his Mississippi hometown.
Here are some clips from the film:
Florida punk band Against Me! plays the Hi-Tone Cafe tonight. It's an early show, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and Against Me! scheduled to take the stage at 10 p.m. Find more info on the show here.
For a taste of what Against Me!'s like live, check out this video of the band playing "Thrash Unreal" in Germany: