This week, '90s alt-rock/power-pop stalwarts the Posies and acclaimed Raconteurs co-frontman Brendan Benson announced plans for a massive co-headlining fall tour of Europe and the United States. Both artists will be promoting new albums; Benson's latest, My Old, Familiar Friend, was released last week, while the Posies will unveil Blood/Candy, the group's first collection of new material in more than five years, on September 28.
Both artists also have strong ties to the Memphis area. Posies co-founders Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer performed off-and-on for the last 15+ years in the latter-day incarnation of Memphis' now legendary Big Star along with Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens. Meanwhile, the Raconteurs' Grammy-nominated 2006 debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers, was mixed at local hit factory Ardent Studios.
Named after the Union Navy ironclad and launched with an pre-presidential quotation from Abraham Lincoln, New Jersey band Titus Andronicus' second album, The Monitor, offers something of an unintentional answer to a recent cultural moment that had Southern governors invoking "Confederate heritage" and downplaying the role of slavery in the Civil War. In many ways, the old South has been the poetic victor of that war over the years, but here's the rare Yankee-centric evocation of the Civil War era, one in which the model of heroism isn't Robert E. Lee but Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, and John Brown. A surly, articulate young bunch, led by singer Patrick Stickles, Titus Andronicus filters Springsteen-inspired verbosity and anthemic energy through punk aggression. While they don't make their recurring Civil War theme on this album topical, they use it to tap into a union of elegant language and righteous anger, and they evoke the enormity of that historical moment as something of a rebuke to their own generational torpor (an antipathy from which Stickles does not exclude himself.) Like Garrison, they do not wish to think, speak, or write with moderation. And they will be heard. Loudly. Titus Andronicus plays the Hi-Tone Café tonight. Showtime is 10 p.m. Admission is $10.
Here's the official video for their song "A More Perfect Union":
Some news and notes from around the world of local film:
Winter's Bone Sticks Around: A lot of the time platform release films — indies, docs, foreign flicks, etc. — come and go so fast for their local runs that it can be hard for some interested filmgoers to find the time to see them. Not so Winter's Bone, the Ozarks-set 2010 Sundance winner that opened at Malco's Ridgeway Four on Friday, July 16th and begins the seventh week of its run today. Winter's Bone might be my favorite film of 2010 so far, an appreciation that comes through in my initial review of the film. I'm thrilled it's stuck around so long, but the run can't last much longer, so if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor this week.
Here's the film's trailer:
Indie Memphis News: The Indie Memphis Film Festival is scaling back its length this year, its 13th festival running over a long weekend October 21st-24th. But it's expanding its geographic footprint. In addition to its central home at Studio on the Square and satellite location at the Brooks Museum of Art, Indie Memphis recently announced it would be adding festival programming at the new Playhouse on the Square, within the same few-block radius of Studio and the Brooks, at Union and Cooper. The Playhouse's 348-seat auditorium will be used for screenings and the venue will also be used for festival workshops, panels, and the "Festival Café," which will host live music throughout the festival. The combination of the compressed weekend schedule and expanded but very manageable festival layout (especially if the Hi-Tone Café remains as a post-screening party site) should make Indie Memphis an even livelier affair than it already is.
Stingray Sam, a black-and-white "musical space western" from San Francisco underground auteur Cory McAbee, was a big hit at last fall's Indie Memphis Film Festival, playing to a packed crowd and winning a festival Special Jury Award for Innovative Filmmaking.
The film screens again tonight as part of the South Main Arts District's Trolley Night. Stingray Sam will get rolling at 9 p.m. at an outdoor space across from Delphinium Boutique (107 G.E Patterson Avenue). The screening is free.
Here's a taste of what to expect:
This Saturday, August 28th, the P&H Cafe will host the second annual “The Best Summer Ever” party, a special event combining raw rock music with a host of wild-and-crazy diversions, including “Double Dare-style” challenges and adult-themed trivia.
“The show was inspired by a small group of friends who decided to take what was one of the hottest times in one of the hottest towns and celebrate being alive during 'the best summer ever,'" says show organizer Alex Pilkington. “I think this summer has topped that, and we hope to celebrate that at this Saturday's party. It's just a celebration of being alive and being young (or young at heart) and loving the summer, even though in everyday life it seems to be a tough time for everyone. It's about being happy to be alive.”
Pilkington will also headline the musical portion of the show with his raucous-but-tuneful garage/punk band the Chinamen. The group is currently at work putting the finishing touches on a new LP, tentatively titled Gook, and gearing up for a fall release and tour. Saturday's appearance at the P&H will likely be their last before the new record is unveiled.
“We're going to take a break to get our affairs in order before the tour,” says Pilkington. “So this is it for a while. It's going to be an amazing party.”
“The Best Summer Ever” w/ the Chinamen, Hosoi Brothers, and Deuce and the Pit Vipers
The P & H Cafe
Saturday, August 28th
9 p.m.; $5
Memphis Beat, "I Want to Be Free"
Originally Aired August 24th, 2010
Plot Synopsis: It's the season finale of Memphis Beat and things get a little crazy with an opening dream sequence. Detective Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee) is onstage performing a rousing rendition of Elvis Presley's "Guitar Man." After screaming female fans chase him to the dressing room, Dwight looks in the mirror and sees a familiar sight: It's Jerry Schilling, the old Elvis buddy (and onetime embattled head of the Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission).
"You know who I am Dwight?," Schilling asks. "I was one of Elvis' best friends since we were kids. He called us the Memphis Mafia. I think Elvis would be very proud of what you've done for Memphis and I want to give you something very special."
With that, Schilling whips out a gold "TCB" necklace and Dwight kneels to accept it, as if he's being knighted.
"He gave all of us guys one of these," Schilling says. "Mine always meant the world to me. But I'd like you to have one now. Dwight I hope you'll remember what this means."
A benefit for the Memphis Youth Symphony, the concert will feature the band playing selections from the album alongside the symphony. Admission is $5. The venue opens at 6:30 p.m. The show is schedule to run from 7:30 to 8:15.
Rowdy Memphis (Plot synopsis):: Tony (Daniel Hugh Kelly) proposes to Ms. Hendricks (Celia Weston) at the Furthermore Hotel. Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee) isn't sure how he feels about that, but thankfully (for him), a crime has happened at the hotel that he can investigate instead.
A groom has gone missing on the day of his wedding. Greg Watson, the groom, was set to be married to Hilary Orland (Kayla Mae Maloney). Hilary is the daughter of Memphis City Councilman Gerald Orland (Sam Anderson), and Greg was his aide.
Suspects include Greg's best man, the famous basketball player Colin Stevens (James Aaron Smith), and Greg's dad, with whom he recently had an argument at the Rendezvous.
There's blood all under the marble floor in Greg's hotel room.
The investigation leads to a link between Rachel Stein, a reporter for the Memphis Voice newspaper, and the missing groom. Stein was investigating kickbacks going to Councilman Orland for the passage of a $300 million mall development on the Mississippi River. She has since gone missing. But she left her reporters notes in her car, providing valuable clues for Dwight.
The developer of the mall, Chester Bayonne, is implicated in the kickback scheme, and Dwight surveilles Bayonne meeting with a suspected hired gun. Dwight, Whitehead (Sam Hennings), and Officer Sutton (DJ Qualls) open up the trunk of a car at the scene of the meet-up and find the bodies of Greg Watson and Rachel Stein.
Dwight approaches the councilman who admits in a roundabout way that he took the bribe. Dwight deduces who was behind the murder: Hilary Orland. She's arrested. It's unclear if Gerald Orland takes a fall in it all. Well, I couldn't figure it out anyway.
Sheryl Crow, a native of small-town Kennett, Missouri, which is approximately 79 miles northwest of Memphis, aims to fill that gap — sort of — on her new album, 100 Miles From Memphis, which rounds up the mileage into something a bit more poetic.
Aside from trying to replicate the Hi Records sound on a cover of Terence Trent D'arby's "Sign Your Name" and asking Millington's Favorite Son, Justin Timberlake, to jump in on background vocals, the title track is really the only Memphis-centric content on the album.
Blending Memphis soul into ’70s-style rootsy radio pop (where Crow is at her most comfortable), the song finds a reliable groove, but probably lacks the specificity to make anyone's short list of classic "Memphis" songs. It hints at a story: "I was stuck in this border town," she laments. "There's a whole world waiting/Waiting on the other side of the line," she promises. But it doesn't quite follow through on its Memphis as Mecca echoes. Nevertheless, "100 Miles From Memphis" is sure to be a highlight when Crow debuts it locally tonight at Mud Island Amphitheatre. Showtime is 8 p.m. Colbie Caillat opens.
Rock for Love, four concerts in three days featuring 17 local acts, all to benefit the Church Health Center, kicks off tonight at the Hi-Tone Café. In my preview of the shows in this week's Flyer, concert organizer Marvin Stockwell said, "If a person wanted to get the lowdown on what's really going on. It'd be a pretty darn good start."
I agree, and for those who maybe don't go to lots of live shows and could be looking to use Rock For Love as something of a primer on the current local scene, here's a brief band-by-band guide, with links for further exploration and a few video clips:
Thursday, August 19th
$5. 9 p.m. 18+
Emcee: Blair Combest
The Candy Company: An energetic straight-up rock-and-roll band led by Billie Worley. From a 2009 performance at Nocturnal:
Teflon Don: Though this rapper's music is familiar Memphis-style hip-hop production — built on skittery high-hat beats, springy synths, and a rumbling low end, Teflon Don approaches the form from different angles, somewhat like a young David Banner.
Holly Cole & the Memphis Dawls: A fixture for the past few years as a solo singer-songwriter type, Cole has recently made the smart move of hooking up with a band, or two to be exact. She rocks up her country-soul sound with Holly & the Heathens, but with the Memphis Dawls (violinist Krista Wooten and cellist Jana Misner), she adorns he songs with sympathetic but still folkish accompaniment. Here's a recent performance of standout song "Hole in My Side":
Episode Named After: The American folk song "I Shall Not Be Moved," a Negro spiritual. The song was used in turn by the labor movement and the civil rights movement. Maya Angelou named a book after it. The song was one of the covers performed by the Million Dollar Quartet — Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis — in a session at Sun on December 4, 1956.
Rowdy Memphis (Plot synopsis): Lt. Rice (Alfre Woodard) discovers that her ex-husband transferred $20,000 out of the bank account she thought he had been removed from. Rice and a bank assistant tussle. Dwight (Jason Lee), Whitehead (Sam Hennings), and Sutton (DJ Qualls) are about to eat some barbecue when they get a call about a hostage situation. A black man has taken a white man hostage in his home. Dwight recognizes the black man as Sebastian LaGrange (Clarence Williams III), a notable session musician from years before. LaGrange is out of his mind and thinks the white man, an eviction process server, was actually there to take him back to Angola prison.
Dwight and the team determine that LaGrange is really Leroy Hitch, a man convicted of a 1958 murder who later escaped from Angola and was never heard from again. Dwight goes about clearing LaGrange/Hitch’s name, believing him to be innocent of the murder of his white girlfriend. The investigation leads to Louisiana, where Dwight talks to the dead girl’s sister (Veronica Cartwright), does some snooping, and figures out the present-day mayor (Marco St. John) did it.
Enter here for your chance to win a pair of tickets to see The Boys in Concert, reuniting 4 stars from the original Broadway cast of Jersey Boys, at the Millennium Theatre inside Tunica's Gold Strike Casino on Saturday, September 4th.
We're giving away a pair of tickets each week until the show. Each week is a different drawing and you can enter as many times as you like, as often as you like. Winners will be notified by email on the morning of each drawing.
Here are the dates for the weekly drawings:
Thursday, August 26th
Thursday, September 2nd
Episode Named After: The great Elvis Presley song "Suspicious Minds" — the greatest, in my opinion. Written and first recorded by Mark James, "Suspicious Minds" was released in 1969 and was Elvis' last #1 song in the U.S. Elvis recorded it, "In the Ghetto," and "Kentucky Rain" in his "Memphis sessions" with Chips Moman at American Sound Studio. Thematically, the song, about a troubled relationship full of doubt, is perfectly matched to several episode plots, including a strained marriage, a police officer considering taking a bribe, and a son wondering if his dad was the stand-up guy he always thought he was.
Rowdy Memphis (Plot synopsis): Detective Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee) testifies during a criminal case about an altercation at a toy store. A pretty defense attorney — and instant love interest for Dwight — grills him on the stand, but Hendricks wins out with a speech about how he grew up knowing there's a right way to treat folks. The jury nods in agreement. Defendant: Guilty.
After the credits, we see Dwight's mom (Celia Weston) and her beau, Tony (Daniel Hugh Kelly), smoking a joint behind a moonbounce at Tony's birthday party in a park. A Beechcraft airplane emergency lands on the grassy strip of the park — but there's no one inside flying it. Whitehead (Sam Hennings) thinks it must be a "ghost plane." An Air Force officer and FAA liaison shows up to help investigate and sparks up a flirtatious relationship with Lieutenant Rice (Alfre Woodard). The investigation leads to a missing couple, the Oneys, who recently won $82 million in the lottery. Suspects include the son, an ex-brother-in-law, and then Mr. Oney (Andrew Sensenig) himself. Turns out, the Oneys didn't really win the lottery, they just said they did so they could glom some free stuff and get credit with businesses and friends. Mr. Oney was an inventor who needed money for a patent. His wife supported him, to the detriment of the rest of her family, and, when she was about to leave him and expose the lotto fraud, he killed her.
Remembering Friday night is like trying to remember a fever dream. The Antenna Club banner was hanging on the eastern wall of Nocturnal like it had never gone away. Dave Shouse of The Grifters was standing in front of it singing "Bronze Cast" like he'd never gone away. Greg Cartwright was outside on the sidewalk where all the smokers had gathered, waiting in nearly unendurable heat for his turn to rip the place apart. It was 1993 all over again only much, much hotter.
Scott Taylor of The Grifters performs "Parting Shot" with The New Mary Jane