On Saturday, August 31st, chitlin'-circuit soul legend Bobby Rush will headline the Tennessee Arts main stage at 10 p.m. while Memphis roots-punk/art-damage legend Tav Falco will direct his Panther Burns on the Greyhound Stage at 8:45 p.m.
Among many other potential highlights on Saturday are: Hip-hop/soul duo Artistik Approach (2:45 p.m.) and Beale blues stalwart Preston Shannon (4:45 p.m.) on the Tennessee Arts Stage. Indie rockers Mouserocket (3 p.m.) and the latin Aztec Dancers (6 p.m.) on the Greyhound Stage. An interview with local jazz great Joyce Cobb (2:15 p.m.) and a jazz/funk party from Hope Clayburn's Soul Scrimmage (9:15 p.m.) on the Comcast Stage. A kids' music performance from University of Memphis musicologist David Evans (1 p.m.) and the jug band Bluff City Backsliders (9 p.m.) on the Center for Southern Folklore Stage.
The North Mississippi Allstars' new album, World Boogie is Coming, will be released next Tuesday, September 3rd, and the band is sneak-previewing it this week via the Wall Street Journal. The album was self-produced at the brothers Dickinson's Zebra Ranch Studio and is being released via the band's own Songs of the South imprint. You can check it out here.
The Oblivians performed a four-song live set for the music site Daytrotter, running through tracks from their new reunion album Desperation such as “Pinball King” and “War Child.” You can listen here.
Local roots-pop singer Myla Smith will release her album Hiding Places on Tuesday, September 10th and will celebrate it with a release show at Minglewood Hall's 1884 Lounge on Friday, September 13th. For a sneak preview of the album, recorded in Nashville with producer Brad Jones (Josh Rouse, Over the Rhine, Hayes Carll), check out the video to the album's first single, “Can't Say No,” which was produced by the local company New School Media:
Local female punk group Nots return to the Buccaneer tomorrow night with support from Chicago touring acts the Wet and Negative Scanner.
Formed more than two years ago, Nots has been gaining steady attention in the local garage/punk scene, much like their former band Bake Sale did a few years ago. While Natalie Hoffmann and Charlotte Watson handle songwriting duties for both groups, Nots is noticeably more aggressive and stripped-down than its predecessor, sounding more punk than pop and trading in ’60s' girl-group songwriting tactics for shorter songs and aggressive vocals. And while Bake Sale was approached by now-defunct Nashville label Grand Palace Records to release their first single, Nots will have their debut seven inch released by local label Goner, who should have the single out in time for the annual Goner Fest in late September.
Nots isn’t the first local band recently approached by the Memphis-based label. In the past year, Goner Records has turned inward to the local scene it helped create, releasing records for local bands True Sons of Thunder, Manatees, and Sector Zero, with an upcoming single from local group Moving Finger reportedly on the way.
Nots, the Wet, and Negative Scanner play the Buccaneer on Thursday, August 29th. Admission is $5.00. Watch Negative Scanner's video for "Fan vs. Wild" below:
As you may have heard, Memphis-bred singer-songwriter Valerie June made her national television debut last night on The Late Show with David Letterman. And the Flyer was there with her, sort of.
This morning, we received this photo from Mark Kates, the manager for another Memphis-connected act, MGMT. (Yes, even MGMT has a manager.)
Kates was apparently on hand prepping for MGMT's own Letterman appearance tonight and ran into June and, we're presuming, her mother outside the studio, where they were happy to show off June's Flyer cover from last week.
If you missed June's Letterman appearance, here is is, while it lasts:
Beale Street mainstay and contender for TV’s The Voice Patrick Dodd is back in Memphis and recording tracks for a new EP of thematic songs at Ardent Studios. The dreadlocked blues guitar phenom is looking to explore a smaller form than the traditional album as an outlet for his trio and his meal ticket: his voice.
With his new burst of TV-derived notoriety, Dodd could easily have upped the ante with a full album and a larger-format band. But he seems confident and content to move in the opposite direction. Asked why he isn’t going for bigger things, Dodd looks at his career with a sense of humor born of relentless gigging on Beale and throughout the region.
“Everybody wants to get paid,” he joked, going on to mimic the lines he must have heard a million times. “It’ll be good exposure. I know you’re only 40.”
But in all seriousness, his band is in a better place than before his run on the popular NBC primetime singing contest in which he sang a convincing “Walking in Memphis” before his elimination.
“It absolutely helped,” said Landon Moore, Dodd’s bassist who with drummer Harry Peel rounds out the trio. “But I’m glad to be doing what we were doing before he left.”
What the trio does is provide a solid blues-rock foundation for Dodd’s gutsy, powerful voice. Dodd was recording a few overdubs and made quick work of them; his Paul Rogers-like voice needing very little fuss from engineer Jeff Powell.
Powell, longtime Ardent veteran, is a major proponent of the shorter-form approach and sees more clients opting to focus on fewer songs with more preparation beforehand. The trio was in the studio for one long day cutting two Dodd originals: “End of the Line” and “I’m Gone.”
“The one-day thing works if the band is ready to go. We’ll mix this tonight,” Powell said.
The songs mark a major development in Dodd’s songwriting and arranging since his last full-length recording, Future Blues. The new material has a wider breadth due to rolling chord changes that add harmonic richness to the recordings. Dodd hopes to a series of five-song concept recordings that are thematically woven together with lyrics and artwork. “I’m Gone” will serve as a single for the first new collection, which, at this pace, could be ready to go in as little as six weeks.
Let that sink in. The Oscars are almost here. It's really only as long away as a baboon's gestation period, as any third-grader knows.
The Oscars are the best thing about American pop culture. I predict the Best Picture nominees every year; it's the least I could do. My prediction skills though ... I get mixed results. Here are my Oscars 2013 predictions. This time last year, I predicted correctly just 5 of the 9 ultimate Best Picture nominees. :( Or, to look at it another way, way back in August I amazingly predicted 5 of 9 Best Picture nominees!
This year is particularly tough, because I can easily get to 30 films I think have a good shot at being nominated. Note: most of these films haven't been released, even at film festivals, so no one has seen them. Many of them don't even have trailers yet. My prediction formula is: who directed the film, who is in it, what's it about, and how does the Academy generally feel about movies that have that mix of variables?
The real list of Best Picture nominees will number somewhere between 5 and 10. I've gone 10 strong, just in case.
June will make her network television debut next Wednesday night, August 21st, on The Late Show with David Letterman. According to June, she'll perform her first single from Pushin' Against a Stone, “Workin' Woman Blues,” with a full band — two guitars, bass, drums, fiddle, and trumpet. June's Humboldt, Tennessee-based parents will fly in for the performance. It'll be their own New York City debut.
Before Letterman, June will perform in Washington, D.C. on Monday, August 19th as part of National Public Radio's popular “Tiny Desk Concert” series. June will perform solo for NPR.
Since opening it's doors to live music four years ago, the Lamplighter Lounge has become a local go-to destination for under-the-radar, avant-garde, or just plain bizarre musical groups. That tradition lives on tomorrow night as local instrumental group Naan-Violence celebrates the release of their debut album at the bar.
Started last year by Sitar player Arjun Kulharya, Naan-Violence doesn't follow in the footsteps of sitar pioneers such as Ravi Shankhar or Alla Rakha, but instead uses tablas, analog synthesizers, flute arrangements, and (of course) sitar, to create a landscape of sound more fitting for a movie soundtrack than a smoke-filled bar.
"With this band, I wasn't interested in playing traditional music," Kulharya says. "I really dig Sun Ra and I think that probably has something to do with our sound."
Thursday's show also serves as a kick-off for the first Naan-Violence tour, a week's worth of shows that sees the band taking its experimental music all the way to Brooklyn. Naan Violence play the Lamplighter Lounge Thursday, August 15th. Doors are at 9 p.m. and admission is $3.00.
The lawn of the Shell on a fall night is one of the best places in Memphis to be and this is a typically strong slate, so every show on the schedule could be a "best bet." But here's one reporter's opinion on what might be the five most promising and/or interesting Shell concerts this season:
1. Elizabeth Cook (Thursday, September 5th): Call this a very highly recommended sleeper pick. This Nashville-based indie-not-alt country singer is still one of contemporary music's best-kept secrets. Last year at the Shell she stole the show as an opening act on buddy and sometime bandmate Todd Snider's What the Folk Fest bill, improbably telling funnier between-song anecdotes than the headliner. As hysterical as Cook can be, though, she can also cut you to the core with autobiographical showcase songs such as "Heroin Addict Sister" and "Mama's Funeral," both from her most recent full-length album, 2010's terrific Welder. She covers both old-time gospel and the Velvet Underground. She's a regular on both The Grand Ole Opry and The Late Show with David Letterman. A jewel. Here she is performing "Heroin Addict Sister" for a satellite radio broadcast:
This “selection of Memphis' best music from the past and present” is divided into four content areas: Modern Era, Rock & Roll, R&B/Soul, and Blues. In the “modern” section, new releases from Justin Timberlake, Valerie June, Lucero, and the Oblivians are among the leading titles.
Memphis becomes the first city to have its own spotlight with the ubiquitous music provider, and one that will continue and will be updated beyond this week, extending at least through October, which the foundation has, in recent years, christened “Memphis Music Month.”
I haven't been as excited and wrapped up in a final season since then until now, with Breaking Bad. The last season — or, more correctly, the last half of the last season — begins airing this Sunday on AMC.
In advance, here are my predictions for what will happen with Breaking Bad. Oh, spoiler alert.
Most everybody dies on Breaking Bad. Here is the order in which they will die, as the season unfolds:
Memphis got a double dose of funk on Wednesday, when the Memphis Drum shop hosted drumming legends Clyde Stubblefield and John “Jabo” Starks. Both men played on James Brown’s essential funk hits of the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Both were in town for the Memphis Drum Shop’s “In-Store Clinic” series. I arrived as both were enjoying lunch from Soul Fish with shop owner Jim Pettit and store staff. Stubblefield was reticent in contrast to the loquacious Starks.
“This place is a museum,” Starks said of Memphis Drum Shop. “If you say ‘drum’ it’s in here. It’s the best-organized store I’ve ever been in, bar none. And I’m not greasing my friend Jim because he’s standing here.” I mentioned that I come to the store even though I’m a bassist. “You got no business at this store,” joked Starks, who kept the lunch lively throughout.
While the two frequently worked together with Brown, Stubblefield’s biggest hits are from the late ’60s ("Cold Sweat", "There Was A Time", "I Got The Feelin'", "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud", "Ain't It Funky Now", and "Mother Popcorn") and Starks’ from the early ’70s ("The Payback", "Sex Machine", "Super Bad", and "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing"). Brown was a legendary taskmaster to his players and had many bands before working with Stubblefield and Starks. Starks recalled the turmoil around the addition of Phelps brothers Bootsy and Phelps, who were much younger and often oblivious to the expectations of the demanding Godfather.
“The rhythm changed when Bootsy got there. I said, ‘Boy, you got to gel. Once you lock in, I don’t care what you do.’ He played different. It was a 360-degree turn. You see, James was declining. But with [Sex Machine], he shot right back up to the top.”
Stubblefield is of particular musicological interest as the most-sampled drummer in the history of hip-hop. He did not enjoy royalty income from his ubiquitous influence over hip-hip in the 80s and 90s, when his beat for “The Funky Drummer” proved irresistible to emcees and rappers who sampled that beat with its magical combination of rock-solidity and compelling liveliness. Users of the beat include Run DMC, Public Enemy, NWA, LL Cool J, and the Beastie Boys. It is a masterpiece for the ages, but it provided no remuneration to Stubblefield, who was profiled in a PBS documentary, Copyright Criminals.
Clement penned the Johnny Cash hit "Ballad of a Teenage Queen," and the classic country weeper "Just a Girl I Used to Know." He arranged the mariachi horns for Cash's "Ring of Fire," and produced Waylon Jennings' definitive "Dreaming My Dreams."
Those lucky enough to catch Clement live also know that this one-time Arthur Murray dance instructor with a love of English literature could make Hamlet's famous "to be or not to be" speech feel like a back porch recitation.
Clement was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in the spring of this year.
Robert Gordon's playful documentary, embedded above, captures Clement's playful, iconoclastic spirit.
The fine folks at Beaver Productions are bringing two great shows to Mud Island Amphitheatre the first week of September.
We're giving away tickets to both shows. Just click on the links above and fill out the form to enter.
Enter as many times as you like. Winners will be drawn for both contests on Wednesday, August 28th.
The lineup for this year's Outflix Festival, which runs September 6th through 12th, was released today.
In addition to I Am Divine, a few other potential standouts:
Bridegroom: A doc about a California man barred from his partner's funeral.
Any Day Now: Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt play a gay couple in the 1970s fighting a biased legal system for custody of an abandoned teenager who's come to live with them.
Continental: A documentary about a New York City bathhouse in the early ’70s.
Hot Guys with Guns: A re-imagining of the buddy cop formula that makes the standard odd couple ex-boyfriends.
A preview party for the festival, at Evergreen Theatre on Thursday, August 29th, will feature the screening of Interior. Leather Bar., a 60-minute feature co-directed by and co-starring James Franco that speculates about missing material from the landmark ’70s gay-themed film Cruising.
We'll have an expanded preview of the festival closer to its opening.