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":
Blair Combest: Once a precocious-sounding young folksinger, Combest has since grown into his warm, scratchy voice:
Star & Micey: One of the more interesting new bands on the Memphis scene, Star & Micey's spacious, rootsy, lightly psychedelic sound is a foundation for some of the prettiest vocals on the scene. Here they are during an Ardent Sessions performance:
Friday, August 20th
$10. 9 p.m. 18+
Emcee: Ross Johnson
Glorie: An instrumental band featuring former Satyrs frontman Jason Paxton and the Church Health Center's own Jeff Hulett.
Skewby: This young rapper might have more combined commercial and artistic promise than any new act on the scene, a combination national hip-hop oracle The Source recognized earlier this year when they tapped him in their famous "Unsigned Hype" column. Skewby is working on a proper debut album, More or Less, for release in the coming months, but can't stop himself from sending spur-of-the-moment side recordings out into the Internet, including as recently as last night. Here's the clip that first got The Source's attention:
Magic Kids: This energetic young band draws on a battery of glorious early ’60s pop influences and is loads of fun live. I reviewed their debut album, Memphis, which is set for release next Tuesday, in this week's paper. Here they are entertaining some other "kids" at a recent Rock-n-Romp:
The Dirty Streets: A precocious young power trio to draws heavily on ’70s rock and heavy blues influences and has developed quite the live reputation.
Saturday, August 20th
Free. Noon to 5 p.m. All-ages.
Chinese Lanterns: A new band apparently made up of Vending Machine/Mouserocket pop master Robby Grant, Mouserocket bandmate Alicja Trout, and Grant's elementary-school aged son. Trout apparently can't make this show, so it will be a father-and-son affair.
The Burning Sands: A garage-pop trio led by former Reigning Sound bassist Jeremy Scott.
The Near Reaches: The latest endeavor of Rock for Love organizer and Flyer contributor J.D. Reager.
Oracle and the Mountain: An ambitious, atmospheric rock band led by Dale Naron, formerly of the Great Depression.
Amy LaVere: Roots-pop singer Amy LaVere has worked her way to the top of the local scene with a sound that can appeal to the hippest young clubgoers as well as their parents (and maybe even grandparents). Ably wielding her upright bass, the charismatic interpretive singer became an emerging roots-music star nationally and internationally with her breakout sophomore disc, Anchors & Anvils. Here she is performing "Killing Him" on Conan O'Brien:
Saturday, August 21st
$15. 9 p.m. 18+
Emcee: Al Bell
Jeremy Stanfill: This one-time heavy rocker (with Crippled Nation) has evolved into a highly promising classic-rock oriented songwriter and bandleader. Here he is with a provocative, impressive video alongside another local pal:
The Bulletproof Vests: Led by brothers Jake and Toby Vest, the Bulletproof Vests present a myriad of classic-rock and Memphis soul influences on their 2009 debut, Attack!.
Lucero: More than 10 years in, Lucero has expanded its sound while become one of the most stable and popular acts on the local scene. They only play a few local shows a year and very rarely play the Hi-Tone — the club they grew up in — any more. So this should be a spectacle. Here's a video from a couple of years ago, shot by the Live From Memphis crew, of the band performing their early fave "Banks of the Arkansas":
There's also an online auction happening through Saturday. Go here to scope it out.