Tonight, better known as New Year's Eve, presents several opportunities to ring in 2011 with noteworthy Memphis musicians. Here's a rundown of this year's most interesting local music holiday options:
Van Duren @ Central BBQ (Summer Ave. location)
For those looking to get things started a bit early (6 p.m. showtime) or do something with the whole family, Duren's weekly appearance at the popular barbecue establishment is a great opportunity to take in some classic Memphis power-pop.
Harlan T. Bobo, Jack Oblivian & the Tearjerkers @ the Hi-Tone Cafe
Probably the most high-profile of the late-night gigs is this double bill at the Hi-Tone, which pairs longtime friends and collaborators Bobo and Oblivian.
Honestly Pastor Williams, I love Christmas but after thinking it over I've decided to see other holidays...
During the heyday of Vaudeville (1880's-1930's) a patron of the form might be able to catch a song, a lecture by a prominent public speaker, some trained animals, furniture jugglers, clowns, comics, plate spinners, scenes from Shakespeare, and someone who farts popular songs all on the same ticket. Interest in Vaudeville and variety shows was revived in the 1990's with the success of freak shows like The Jim Rose Circus. While the Nocturnal Cabaret may not offer anything quite so varied and exotic, it's still a fun alternative for the nightclub set. And it's still plenty exotic.
Doors for Lavinia London's "Babes in Toyland" open at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 17 at Nocturnal. Tickets are $15 and include admission to a rock-and-roll show with Wild Emotions, Ross Johnson, and Distemper.
Distemper, a short-lived Memphis punk band which reformed for a performance at the 2010 Antenna Club Reunion, played no more than a half-dozen shown in 1986, but the group's legacy lingers. Antenna Club owner Steve McGehee has credited the band with launching all-ages punk shows in Memphis.
Filmmaker and Distemper co-founder Mike McCarthy says he hopes to follow up recent reunion shows with the release of a CD the band recorded 24-years ago at Crosstown Records.
Blues Music Award Nominations: Nominations for the 32nd Blues Music Awards, which will be held at the Cook Convention Center on May 5th, were announced yesterday.
In addition to Musselwhite, who is also competing for Instrumentalist — Harmonica, Traditional Blues Album, and Traditional Blues Male Artist, Memphis-connected nominations are plentiful.
Greenville-based Eden Brent, who records for the local Yellow Dog Records and plays in Memphis regularly, is up for Album of the Year for her terrific Ain't Got No Troubles and is also competing for the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player award and Traditional Blues Female. In the later category, she'll be competing with Memphis mainstay Reba Russell.
The South Memphis String Band — a group made up of Alvin Youngblood Hart, Jimbo Mathus, and the North Mississippi Allstars' Luther Dickinson — are up for Acoustic Album for their debut Home Sweet Home. The Juke Joint Duo's Cedric Burnside is up for Instrumentalist — Drummer. And the late Solomon Burke is up for Soul Blues Album for his swan song, Nothing's Impossible, the final production from late Memphis legend Willie Mitchell.
Tickets for the May 5th awards show go on sale today, with a DVD memorializing the 2010 Blues Music Awards also available for purchase. Online voting by Blues Foundation members also kicks off today. See here for the full slate of nominees.
Enter here for your chance to win a pair of tickets to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert on Friday, December 17th!
We're drawing for the tickets on Thursday, December 16th. Winners need to be able to pick up their tickets at our offices downtown during normal business hours.
The Southeastern Film Critics Association named its 2010 award winners today, voted on among 43 critics — myself included — from nine states. Here are the SEFCA winners, with my votes for each category:
1 - The Social Network
2 - The King’s Speech
3 - Winter’s Bone
4- Black Swan
5 - Inception
6 - True Grit
7 - Toy Story 3
8 — 127 Hours
9 - The Fighter
10 - The Kids Are All Right
My picks: I'm not going to give my full best film votes here so as not to step on my year-end list for the December 30th edition of the Flyer. But I'll give a few notes:
A snafu in regard to year-end screeners kept me from seeing three of these films — The King's Speech, True Grit, and The Fighter — in time for voting, though, based on what I've seen and read I'm somewhat skeptical that any of them would have shown up on my ballot. As is, I voted for four films that finished in the SEFCA Top Ten — The Social Network, Winter's Bone, Black Swan, and Inception.
There are three films that made my SEFCA ballot that will not show up on my Flyer year-end list because they did not screen in Memphis in 2010. Two of these — Carlos (fourth on my ballot) and Mother (9th) are foreign films that never opened here and which I wrote about recently. The third is Another Year (my third-place finisher,) the latest work from British master Mike Leigh, which is likely to open locally sometime in January or February.
Whalum's Everything Is Everything: The Music of Donny Hathaway was honored with a nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Album, and singer Musiq Soulchild was nominated for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "We're Still Friends," a collaboration with Whalum from the album.
Whalum also double-dipped in the gospel section, with "He's Been Just That Good," a collaboration with singer Lalah Hathaway, cited in the Best Gospel Performance category and "It's What I Do," co-written with Jerry Peters showing up among the Best Gospel Songs nominations. Both are from Whalum's The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter III album.
In blues categories, two Memphis-connected discs are competing in the Best Traditional Blues Album category. There's Cyndi Lauper's Memphis Blues, recorded locally under the direction of Memphis producer Scott Bomar, and there's Memphis native Charlie Musselwhite's The Well. In the Best Contemporary Blues Album category, the nominees include Soloman Burke's Nothing's Impossible, which marks the late Willie Mitchell's final producer credit.
Finally, local author Robert Gordon scored a nomination in the Best Album Notes category for his work on Keep An Eye On The Sky, the boxed set devoted to subterranean Memphis legends Big Star.
The Grammys will be broadcast on Sunday, February 13th at 7 p.m., on CBS.
Last night, pop icon Cyndi Lauper performed a secret, invitation-only concert/DVD-taping in Memphis at the ultra-hip downtown venue the Warehouse. Lauper mostly stuck to cuts from her recently released Memphis Blues album (recorded in town by local producer Scott Bomar), and was joined on stage by several of the album's guest artists, including Charlie Musselwhite, Alan Toussaint and Johnny Lang.
The Flyer was there, of course, and managed to snap a few photographs:
Local musician/DJ/engineer Andrew "Buck Wilders" McCalla has been getting a lot of attention as of late for producing excellent recordings by the likes of the Warble, the Dirty Streets, the Oscars, Girls of the Gravitron, Tanks, the Ultra-cats and a litany of others.
We've already got a story on McCalla in this week's Flyer, but there was a ton of interesting interview material that we weren't able to fit in the paper. Here are a few select outtakes from our conversation with McCalla:
On developing an interest in music:
"When I was young, my best friend's older brother inherited his father's record collection. It was all classic rock stuff. I would hear him playing those records all the time and was really drawn to the music as well as the vinyl itself. As soon as I got a wiff of Jimi Hendrix and the like, my musical taste started to bloom. The older music stuck out pretty hard compared to the commercial hits of the '80s that I was surrounded by. I then started a pretty extensive cassette collection of '60s rock. At 15 my mother gave me her old turntable and record collection. I then started going to thrift stores, Nostalgia World, River Records and Shangri-la Records in search of wax. The better records I found, the more hooked I got. Now I'm a full on music junkie."
In one of the most unusual local film screenings in memory, now Nashville-based filmmaker Harmony Korine (screenwriter of Kids, director Gummo) will present his highly controversial film Trash Humpers at the Hi-Tone Café tonight.
Rated as the most critically divisive film in the database at Indiewire.com, Korine's film depicts masked figures doing all kinds of outlandish and disturbing things (the film's title being a tip-off) and is presented as a 35mm blow-up of a lousy VHS tape.
The Chicago Reader bluntly judged Trash Humpers — which I haven't seen — an "interminable piece of crap." The Village Voice, while concluding that the film overstays its welcome, approvingly labeled it "a gloriously desultory slap in the face of public taste" and fixed it in the lineage of classic midnight-movie provocations such as Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures and John Waters' Pink Flamingos.
This Saturday night, the Hi-Tone Cafe hosts an interesting and cohesive double-bill, with local favorites John Paul Keith & the One Four Fives joining forces with Little Rock roots-rocker Jim Mize.
The two artists, labelmates on the Fat Possum/Big Legal Mess label, have been working together quite a bit recently — the One Four Fives backed Mize for recording sessions at Big Legal Mess owner Bruce Watson's Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, MS earlier this year. The initial result of this budding collaboration is a newly released 7” single on Big Legal Mess, the A-side of which, the Springsteen-ish ballad “Drunk Moon Falling,” equally showcases Mize's soulful vocals and impeccable songwriting atop the One Four Fives understated and tasteful playing.
John Paul Keith spoke to the Flyer this week about working with Mize and more.
Flyer: How did you first become aware of Jim Mize?
Keith: I think I first heard about Jim when we started talking to Bruce Watson at Big Legal Mess about putting our record (Spills & Thrills) out. Bruce had done a couple records on Jim already. I liked what I'd heard.