Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sound Advice: Professor Elixir's Southern Troubadours reunite at Escape Alley

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2011 at 10:32 AM

A vintage poster for Professor Elixir. And they really meant until.
  • A vintage poster for Professor Elixir. And they really meant "until."
About a year ago I walked in on my daughter Lucy spinning one of my old .45 records and watching it go round and round. It was Professor Elixir's Southern Troubadours covering the Josh White/George Martin Lane standard "One Meat Ball." Of course, I reached for my video camera because that song always had a similar effect on me back in the 90's whenever I'd go to to the P&H Cafe for one of PEST's epic sets. Typically I'd find myself standing two feet away from the sprawling juggrass orchestra hypnotized by primo washboard player Jack Adcock while Michael Graber would blast kazoo in my ear. This song, which Adcock sang like a Depression-era refugee, was the highlight of every set and this video (embedded below) is the only means I have of sharing it.


Every night before the band packed up electric guitar player Bob Elbrecht would thank Graham Parsons for his gift of "Cosmic American Music." Even if the Troubadours didn't sound very much like The Flying Burrito Brothers, they were clearly following Parson's example. The first time I ever saw PEST, at a Pinch district club called The Loose End, they were playing a jug band arrangement of The Velvet Underground's "Waiting For My Man." Someone threw a beer can at the stage and Graber came flying out into the crowd ready to whoop whoever dunnit. And, for a second there, he thought it was me. I was hooked and couldn't get enough of this scrappy train wreck of a band mixing folksy originals about disasters (natural, romantic, and economic) with blues, bluegrass, and jazzy obscurities from long, long ago.

ONE MEAT BALL by Professor Elixir's Southern Troubadours


Professor Elixir was a sprawling, ever-evolving Memphis superband and over the years many great players sat in. The core members included Graber, Adcock, Brian Collins, and drummer Joey Pegram who had all played together in a hippie punk band called 611. Also, Jack's bass-plucking wife Amy and electric guitar picker Elbrecht who had been Bum Notes together. The group was rounded out by fiddle and banjo player Clint Wagner (Mash-O-Matic, The Scam, Devil Train), bluegrass all-star Andy Ratliff, peddle steel player John Whittemore (NTJ), harmonica blower Wally Hall, and and singer Paulette Regan.

After a 10-year absence many members of the original group—now scattered around the world— are reuniting for a rare performance.

The Deets: Wednesday, August 3 · 8:00pm - 11:00pm at Escape Alley Sundry.

As was ever the case with Professor Elixir, if it doesn't fall apart it should be a blast.

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