And when 82-year-old, Beale Street-bred soul-blues titan Bobby “Blue” Bland took a seat on stage and sang his classics “Goin' Down Slow” and “Stormy Monday Blues,” this alone was, as they say, worth the price of admission.
Bland's voice was worn but still graceful, with a range that went from his deep “yeah” to quavery high notes. He was helped to the stage and to a chair. When an early bit of feedback disrupted the beginning of his first song, Bland smiled and said “That's my fault.” And then he dug into “Goin' Down Slow,” adding extra gravity to the lines “Somebody please write my mother and tell her the shape I'm in/And tell her to pray for me and forgive me for all my sins.”
Memphis "aristocrunk" rap pioneers Lord T & Eloise will perform this Wednesday, November 21 at the Hi-Tone Cafe with special guests Beyonda Doubt, Mr. White, and Witnesse. The holiday-themed event - appropriately dubbed "Get Basted with Lord T & Eloise" - marks the duo's first local appearance in over six months.
Lord T & Eloise has been hard at work in the studio recently creating a follow-up to 2010's critically acclaimed Rapocalypse, in the form of a pair of mixtapes titled Blackout Crunk Vol. 1 and 2. The video for the first single from said mixtapes, "Day Drinking," can be viewed here:
Missing Monuments sounds more like the power pop coming out of the Midwest in the late 1970s than the hillbilly rock-and-roll that Bankston had been cranking out through the mid 2000s, showing his versatility as a songwriter and his knack for a guitar hook. Tonight marks the first time Bankston has played Memphis since resurrecting the Persuaders for a performance at Gonerfest 9.
The Powell/Peterson deal includes two songs tracked live to analog tape and mastered to vinyl in the same day. The two have extensive experience at Ardent and can dial in sounds that are appropriate for vinyl mastering.
“We just use the balance we get, touch it with a little EQ, and print it,” Powell says.
The Dawls were cutting the tracks to the second song and not to be bothered. The first track blends American string-band music with sharp female harmonies harkening to the 1940s. The second track moved gorgeously through its changes as they cut the rhythm tracks. These ladies specialize in harmony, and that shows in the part writing of the instruments as well as in their captivating vocals.
The masters were headed to Nashville the next day. Check their website for details about availability. Hear their latest EP below.
The Memphis Dawls EP:
Rolling Head Orchestra
Live Election Night Stream, 6-7 p.m.
As a member of Atlanta power-punk group the Carbonas (whose final record came out on Goner), Jesse Smith cranked out nasty punk riffs that bands like the Zero Boys and Radio Birdman made popular in the late 1970s, but don’t expect that from this project. Sounding a lot like the Nerves and maybe even a slower, sadder version of the Exploding Hearts, Smith has found a power-pop sweet spot with lyrics focusing on heartbreak, self-loathing, and failed relationships.
Also playing the show is Memphis guitarist Dave Cousar, who’s sat in as a session player with everyone from Al Green to Lucero. Cousar also plays guitar for Amy Lavere, and can often be seen playing his brand of guitar blues at the Buccaneer on Tuesday nights. The show is being advertised as a late one, with the first act scheduled to go on at 11:30. Admission is $7.00 and the show is 21 and up.
C. Scott McCoy and Laura Jean Hocking's full-length music documentary Antenna and Alan Spearman's South Memphis-set short doc As I Am were double-winners at the 15th Indie Memphis Film Festival, which presented its awards at a closing ceremony Sunday night.
Antenna won Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature and a Special Jury Award for Local Significance from the Hometowner jury. As I Am took in two Hometowner awards, Best Documentary Short and the Audience Award.
The ceremony was hosted by producer Savannah Bearden and featured video clips from the local Corduroy Wednesday filmmaking group, which spoofed the upcoming presidential election with a fictional election for Indie Memphis executive director. Filmmakers G.B. Shannon, Edward Valibus Phillips, and Ben Siler portrayed challengers to "incumbent" Erik Jambor, who went above and beyond this year by overseeing the biggest and best Indie Memphis yet despite having his first child — a daughter, Simone — just two days before the festival began. (Simone made a cameo at the ceremony, in the arms of mother happy mother Robin Salant.) Helping in the expansion is primary sponsor Duncan-Williams, Inc..
"I've told Erik, we're going to continue to make this bigger and better every year," Williams himself announced at the ceremony's outset.
The most memorable acceptance speech came from Kentucker Audley and Caroline White, the "stars" and co-producers of Audley's intensely personal Open Five 2, which won the award for Best Hometowner Feature.
"I think I'm the only person on the stage that likes the movie," Audley cracked after White was struggling for words to explain the film.
The final day of the 15th Indie Memphis Film Festival will feature a Big Star encore, a local premiere, perhaps the two highest-profile features of the fest, and the distribution of festival awards. As always, see IndieMemphis.com for a full schedule and ticketing info. But here are some selected highlights from today's schedule:
After an unofficial, unlisted work-in-progress screening at last year's festival, Kentucker Audley's Open Five 2 (Circuit Playhouse, 5:45 p.m.) makes its official Memphis debut. A provocatively personal film that collapses the distance between fiction and documentary and is packed with memorable moments, it's Audley's best film yet. I wrote more about it in this week's Flyer cover story.
Open Five 2 trailer:
The retrospective of Memphis-bred filmmaker Ira Sachs kicks into full drive. Earlier in the day, a selection of Ira Sachs Shorts (Circuit Playhouse, 11 a.m.) will screen, followed by Sachs' made-in-Memphis coming-of-age debut, The Delta (Brooks Museum of Art, 2 p.m.).
And then, the gala screening tonight is, in my mind, the signature event of the festival, the Memphis debut of Sachs' newest and best film, Keep the Lights On (Playhouse on the Square, 7 p.m.), a delicate, richly textured epic about the troubled, decade-long relationship between two New Yorkers that's been hailed as “landmark in gay cinema” and one of the year's best films. You can read my profile of Sachs in this week's Flyer here.
Keep the Lights On trailer:
Antenna tells the story of the titular rock club, once located at the corner of Madison and Avalon in Midtown, where so many culturally left-of-center Memphians in the '80s and '90s found their voices and each other. Along the way, we get glimpses of early alternative/punk/new wave acts such as the Panther Burns, the Modifiers, and Calculated X and see the rise of the city's signature '90s bands, the Grifters and Oblivians.
The doc situates the Antenna as a key part of a growing national indie-rock network via interviews with major figures such as R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, Minutemen's Mike Watt, and Black Flag's Greg Ginn. And it takes a great detour into the all-ages hardcore scene that grew up around the club in the late '80s and early '90s.
You can check out my cover story in this week's paper on Memphis-connected filmmakers Ira Sachs and Kentucker Audley, who are both involved with multiple films at this year's festival, most notably new features — Sachs' Keep the Lights On and Audley's Open Five 2 — that are provocatively personal. I also touch on a quartet of selections rooted in Memphis cultural history, including the two highest-profile screenings tonight. Separately, colleagues Chris Davis and Greg Akers join me to highlight a handful of potentially overlooked festival selections.
The gala screening tonight of Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (Playhouse on the Square, 6:30 p.m.), the fine new documentary portrait of the great Memphis ’70s band, is sold out, but there's plenty more to choose from.
The Memphis connections don’t stop there. The original lineup of Destruction Unit also included Memphis musicians Jay Reatard and Alicja Trout (Lost Sounds, Black Sunday). That pair also recorded the first two Destruction Unit albums and eventually helped write a few songs that appear on the second album.
After moving back to Arizona, the band went stagnant for a while, with Rousseau focusing on his more psychedelic outfits Desert Children and Earthmen & Strangers. But in 2009, Rousseau recruited fellow desert punks from various groups to round out the second era of Destruction Unit, this time incorporating elements of krautrock into the distortion-laden mix.