The Essential Collection
This month, Ryko rolled out a long awaited four-disc (2 CDs, 2 DVDs) retrospective on the now legendary late comedian, Bill Hicks. Since his untimely death in 1994, Hicks' status has slowly but steadily risen to the level of a cult icon, thanks in part to the success of “alternative” comedians such as David Cross, Patton Oswalt, and even Russell Brand, all of whom Hicks is often credited as being an artistic influence on and forerunner to.
Whether that's true or not, Hicks was definitely a dynamic, unconventional, but still polished (you'd never see Hicks carry notes onstage) performer. And his material still feels fresh and relevant, whether he's talking politics (Reagan, Bush, the first Iraq war) or pop culture (art vs. commerce, reality TV, manufactured pop stars).
This year's Gonerfest, the seventh installment of local garage/punk label Goner Records' annual musical festival, was perhaps the biggest and most eclectic to date, drawing bands and fans from all corners of the world to Memphis for five days of rock 'n' roll insanity.
I'm also ashamed to admit that, despite my status as a nearly life-long Memphian, this year was my first Gonerfest experience. I must say that the festival did not disappoint. Aside from the array of really good bands (my favorites from the festival being Destruction Unit, So Cow, and the Oblivians), one thing that really struck me was the fully engaged and enthusiastic crowds, which were unlike anything I've seen at a Memphis club-show before.
Goner's Eric "Oblivian" Friedl spoke to the Memphis Flyer on Monday about Goner attendees, his favorite bands from the weekend, and the future of Gonerfest itself.
Memphis Flyer: How did you do this year, numbers-wise?
Eric Friedl: I don't have final stats, but Friday and Saturday were the biggest crowds I've seen at Gonerfest, and the biggest crowds I've been in at the Hi Tone. That was insane.
What bands did you enjoying seeing live the most? Did anybody surprise you with how good they were?
It's weird, because I know some bands are going to be great. Most of the most enjoyable moments are delivered by the bands you aren't as familiar with. So . . . Guinea Worms, Dave Cloud, James Arthur's Manhunt, Red Mass, U.V. Race, and Outdoorsmen were my favorites of the bands I didn't know so well. I just started making a list of other favorites and it was basically the rest of the bands. Guitar Wolf at Gonerfest was the best for personal impact.
The premiere will function as a fundraiser for the Indie Memphis Film Festival, which opens its 13th installment later this month.
Directed by David Harris, an MTV executive who had previously been a producer on Brewer's $5 Cover series, Savage County was similarly envisioned as a web-based project that could end up on television as well. And it will, with MTV recently announcing that Savage County will debut on MTV2 on October 7th at 10 p.m.
Gonerfest 7 starts up tonight at the Hi-Tone Cafe. Yesterday, in part one of this three-part cheat sheet, I looked at some of the local acts. Earlier today, in part two, I highlighted some of the visiting bands with local ties. Finally, let's take a look at some of the international acts showcased at this year's Gonerfest.
Guitar Wolf (Saturday, 1:00 A.M., Hi-Tone): This legendary Japanese punk band will serve as Gonerfest's co-headliners. Their 1993 debut LP, Wolf Rock!, was actually the first-ever Goner Records release.
Gonerfest 7 starts up tonight at the Hi-Tone Cafe. Yesterday, in part one of this three-part cheat sheet, I looked at some of the local acts. Here, in part two, some of the visiting bands with local ties.
Out-of-Towners With Local Ties
Strapping Fieldhands (Friday, 12:00 A.M., Hi-Tone): This Philadelphia indie-rock band released a great record, Wattle & Daub, for local label Shangri-La Records (now Shangri-La Projects) back in 1996. Another check for the ol' must-see list.
In a mere a seven years, local garage-punk label Goner Records has grown its annual Gonerfest from a fairly modest event to a full-blown five-day underground rock extravaganza. This year's Gonerfest promises to be bigger and badder than ever, featuring more than 40 bands from all over the world performing at the Hi-Tone, the Buccaneer, Murphy's and the Goner store.
With so much going on, and me, let's face it, not being the non-stop party animal I once was, I've come to the conclusion that some hard choices will have to be made. With that in mind, here's what I'm looking forward to the most this week (broken up into three categories):
The Oblivians (Friday, 1:00 A.M., Hi-Tone): A now legendary Memphis band that I'm looking forward to — finally — checking off of my must-see-in-this-lifetime list.
Last night, the Brooks Museum hosted punk rock pioneer Ian MacKaye for a spirited Q & A session co-sponsored by the Memphis Music Foundation.
The nearly sold-out event saw MacKaye, founder of the vastly influential underground bands Minor Threat and Fugazi, as well as the fiercely independent Dischord Records label, answer audience questions for nearly two solid hours on a myriad of topics; from songwriting method, to collaborating with Ministry's Al Jourgensen, the straight-edge movement, veganism, and other points in-between, with lots of crowd-pleasing rock & roll anecdotes tossed in along the way.
MacKaye was most animated when speaking generally about the power of and passion behind music itself. Here are a few of his more salient talking points:
"The music has never stopped coming out of me. To explain my process would be a gift to me, because then I could go write a great song. The effortlessness of it makes it a strong form of a communication."
This June, the Memphis music scene received the sad news that another of its favorite sons, local power-pop pioneer Tommy Hoehn, died at the age of 55.
Up until his untimely passing, Hoehn had been hard at work on two projects: an as-yet unfinished collection of new songs tentatively called Pi (slated to be completed later this year by a group of Hoehn's closest musical allies, including producer Chris Swenson and longtime collaborator Van Duren), and a re-issue of his classic and long out-of-print 1978 album Losing You to Sleep (originally released on the major label London Records) with rare/unreleased bonus tracks.
As work continues on Pi, local indie label Milk & Soda Records unveiled this week the new version of Losing You to Sleep, which now includes seven additional Hoehn recordings from the period.
“About three weeks before Tommy passed, he came to the realization that he wasn't going to be able to finish the record,” says Milk & Soda owner Henry Loeb. “So he came to me and asked if we could instead work on a compilation of some sort of his older material. He really wanted to have that material on disc before he died. Fortunately, I was able to give him an unmastered copy just in time.”
Memphis Beat may be over, but a couple of new Memphis-connected television series debut tonight.Terriers, which stars Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James as down-on-their-luck private detectives in San Diego, may not seem to have much to do with Memphis, but it earns its local connection at least for tonight, as the series' pilot episode was directed by Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer. Terriers has been getting generally good reviews and is certainly worth a look when it debuts at 9 p.m. tonight on F/X.
Also debuting tonight is Hellcats a cheerleading show that co-stars High School Musical's Ashley Tisdale and seems heavily influenced by Bring It On. Though filmed in Vancouver, the series is set in Memphis, at the fictional Lancer University. The premise is that protagonist Marti Perkins (Aly Michalka) is "a hip, edgy townie with working-class roots" who loses her scholarship and draws on her gymnastics background to reluctantly pursue an open cheerleading scholarship. When she makes the "Hellcats" squad at Lancer, Marti is "thrust into a world of camaraderie, backstabbing, and competition that takes place at the intersection of the Memphis music scene, backroom academia, college town politics, and big money collegiate sports — in the Deep South, football is God."
Color us intrigued but skeptical about Hellcats, which has the potential to make Memphis Beat's conception of the Memphis music scene look downright realistic. The series debuts at 8 p.m. tonight on the CW network.
We'll be checking out both Terriers and Hellcats, but we aren't promising to be interested for longer than one night.
Day two of the Center for Southern Folklore's Music and Heritage Festival was all about missing acts I wanted to catch. Star & Micey were finished by the time I reached the Tennessee Arts Stage and the crowds were so dense at the Center's smaller, music store stage that I couldn't get close to The Last Chance Jug Band or Son of Mudboy. But one of the nice things about this festival is that if you miss something you want to see you'll very likely stumble across something even more interesting. To wit: The Memphis Klezmer Orchestra.
Every year I'm floored by both the quality and diversity of the acts performing at the Center For Southern Folklore's Music and Heritage Festival. Saturday's lineup included performances by Country sweetheart Nancy Apple, Rock diva Alicja Trout, Memphis Soul torchbearers The Bo-Keys, Jug band music with David Evans, Gospel goodness with Darrell Petties and down home blues with Barbara Blue and Bobby Rush. There was a smattering of bluegrass, a healthy serving of jazz, and something called Gothic Americana. Here's a too brief sample of what the day had to offer.
There are days when I sincerely believe that Los Cantadores are the best band in Memphis. Here's why.
And how perfect that Blondie and Cheap Trick co-headlined that finale, and on the last stop of their tour no less. I’ve gone to several of this year’s “Live at the Garden” shows — always toting a large blanket, a few friends, cheap wine, and picnic spread that would make Martha Stewart proud (last night, that spread included homemade vegan sushi and uncheese fondue). But Blondie rules my world, so I knew this show would not disappoint.
It did get off to somewhat of a slow start for me as I’m not at all a fan of Cheap Trick, but I witnessed plenty of Cheap Trick diehards (mostly middle-aged women) sporting shirts bearing the band’s name. To be honest, when I arrived at the show I couldn’t even name one Cheap Trick song.
Once the band got about midway through their set, I recognized “I Want You To Want Me” and “Surrender.” While I enjoyed those hits, the rest of Cheap Trick’s set bored me to the point that I stopped paying attention to them in favor of Facebooking on my iPhone. When they butchered a Beatles song (and I can’t even remember which one as I’m not a Beatles fan either), I gave up on the band entirely.
But on the day that issue hit the streets, Lambert's embrace by the country mainstream became complete. Lambert landed nine nominations for this year's Country Music Association Awards, the most ever for a female artist.
The nominations were announced Wednesday morning, with Lambert in New York on Good Morning America. The next night she was in Southaven, Mississippi, for her first concert since the announcement.
"I've got a lot of things to celebrate tonight. Some things that are definitely a drinking matter," Lambert told what appeared to be a near-capacity crowd.
But if Lambert was in the mood to celebrate her new stature, she wasn't in the mood to compromise what got her there. After a mix of piped-in warm-up music that culminated, improbably, with Elvis Costello's "Radio, Radio," Lambert bounded onto the stage to the sound of Steve Earle's "The Revolution Starts Now" and announced, "Y'all ready for some rock and roll?" With that, she and her five-piece, all-Texas-bred band launched into her firecracker breakthrough single, "Kerosene," which borrows from a different Earle song ("I Feel Alright") while conflating break-up saga and class-rage anthem. "Forget your high society/I'm soaking it in kerosene," Lambert sang. "Light ’em up and watch them burn/Teach them what they need to learn."
Enter here for your chance to win a pair of tickets to see the Black Crowes in concert at Mud Island Amphitheatre on Thursday, September 30th. The "Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys" 2010 Tour features the Black Crowes playing two sets -- one electric and one acoustic.
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:
Friday, September 10th
Friday, September 17th
Friday, September 24th
Also, the story enumerates the ratings for Memphis Beat: "The drama has been a solid performer, averaging 4.5 million viewers and a 1.1 adults 18-49 rating through 10 episodes," James Hibberd reports.
You know what this means? Another season of thousand-word episode recaps — pointing out all of the show's geographical, historical, and ambiencical — shortcomings, from your friendly neighborhood Sing All Kinds team. FTW.
Memphis Beat, Season One Guide
Pilot: "It's All Right, Mama"
Ep. 2: "Baby Let's Play House"
Ep. 3: "Love Me Tender"
Ep. 4: "Polk Salad Annie"
Ep. 5: "One Night of Sin"
Ep. 6: "Run On"
Ep. 7: "Suspicious Minds"
Ep. 8: "I Shall Not Be Moved"
Ep. 9: "Don't Be So Cruel"
Ep. 10: "I Want To Be Free"