The moment we've all been waiting for is upon us: This week we will finally get to see Memphis weirdo Prince Mongo on the History Channel's hit TV show American Pickers.
From the show's home page: "Eccentric Prince Mongo answers to an other-worldly power and commands Mike and Frank to buy, but refuses to quote them any prices ... "
The episode is titled "Alien vs. Picker".
The Memphis Flyer encountered the experience live when Frank and Mike were in Memphis back in March.
You can see Prince Mongo in all his rubber chicken glory on American Pickers, the following scheduled times:
Premier: Wednesday, July 30, 8 p.m.
Thursday, July 31, Midnight
Wednesday, August 6, 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.
With a lengthy bill of acts performing across several stages, no two Bonnaroo experiences are the same. And with overlapping band performances (and lots of walking to get from stage to stage), it’s difficult to be everywhere you want to be. But Bianca Phillips and I took in as much as we could. She’s posted a photo slideshow for your enjoyment, and here are some highlights from my adventure on the farm, in no particular order.
Memphis had a strong presence at Bonnaroo this year, starting with a special screening of “Take Me to the River” in the festival’s Cinema Tent on Thursday afternoon. Produced by Martin Shore, Cody Dickinson, and Dan Sameha, the film celebrates the inter-generational and inter-racial musical influence of Memphis in the face of pervasive discrimination and segregation. It features multiple generations of award-winning Memphis and Mississippi Delta musicians including William Bell, Mavis Staples, Otis Clay, Lil P-Nut, Charlie Musselwhite, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Yo Gotti, Bobby Rush, Frayser Boy, The North Mississippi All-Stars, and many more.
A Memphis treasure, Valerie June, performed to a modest yet fully engaged crowd at one of the event’s tent stages, This Tent, on Saturday. Enamoring the audience with her sweet Southern drawl, June shouted-out to Memphis a few times, noting that some of her songs began as earworms that she sang to herself while working at the herb shop, Maggie’s Pharm, and cleaning houses in Memphis just three years ago before she hit the big-time. Her brothers, Patrick and Jason, who she grew up singing with in church, took the stage with her and provided back-up vocals through several songs. She pulled out her “baby” — a Memphis-made banjo — for a few songs as she worked her way through many of the tracks on her breakout album Pushin’ Against a Stone, including “Workin’ Woman Blues”, “Somebody to Love”, and “Tennessee Time”.
Memphis’ own country-punk rock band Lucero played an early afternoon set on Sunday, but sadly I was unable to catch their performance. I’d be willing to bet they represented us well.
A personal favorite, New York-based indie/electro/pop duo MSMR — who also performed at the 2014 Beale Street Music Festival — played to a bursting-at-the-seams crowd at one of the festival’s tent stages, The Other Tent, Thursday night. The animated, pink-haired lead singer, Lizzy Plapinger, flitted across the stage, ecstatically powering through tracks from their 2013 debut album, Secondhand Rapture (including my favorite, “Dark Doo Wop,” which wasn’t included in the BSMF setlist). Before the set’s end, the duo’s other half, Max Hershenow, said to the crowd, “This is only our third year as a band, so we’re really fucking happy you’re here seeing us! Thank you so much for this!”
Bonnaroo is as much about discovering new music as it is about seeing your favorite bands, and this year, I discovered a gem. Though I had heard a song or two of theirs in passing before the festival, the Scottish, female-fronted electro-pop trio Chvrches drew me in with its shimmering synth and the delicate and melodic vocal stylings of the seemingly shy singer Lauren Mayberry. Mayberry spoke demurely to the audience between songs, once commenting on the variety of silly signs and flags jutting up from the crowd (I spotted an oversized Jack Nicholson head on a stick and a Kanye-heckling “Gay Fish” sign): “What is all of this stuff you guys are holding up? [Pointing at one of them] Is that supposed to be a dick?”
Adding to the list of female artists I enjoyed at the festival (I promise I didn’t just see the girly stuff), Fugees alumna Ms. Lauryn Hill performed a powerful set on Saturday, also at The Other Tent. Many audience members had camped out for hours to make their way to the front, and some had to be pulled out and over the front railings by security, as they were overheating waiting for the delayed set to start (nearly 30 minutes later than scheduled). When Hill arrived on stage, she and her backing band rocked out a cover of Bob Marley’s “Soul Rebel” and followed with revised versions of well-known tracks, including a reggae rendition of “Killing Me Softly” and a disco-inspired version of “Everything is Everything”.
And finally, the male-led groups! Atlanta-based metal band Mastodon performed a mind-melding, impossibly tight set at This Tent on Saturday. But not before the Flyer ran into them that afternoon in the press area. Guitarist Bill Kelliher has a Memphis connection, having been tattooed by Babak Tabatabai, owner of Ronin Design & Manufacturing on Broad Avenue. We chatted with Kelliher briefly, and he says they’ve been super busy touring. Not surprising since their new album, Once More ‘Round the Sun, is set for release later this month.
I caught the last few minutes of a chaotically energetic performance by Cage the Elephant. After recovering from (apparently one of many) technical difficulties (during which the band casually played riffs from a hip-hop tune), singer Matt Schultz danced around the stage before saying, “We have mostly been Cage the Elephant. We were briefly Dr. Dre. Now we’re back to Cage the Elephant.” During the last song, Schultz insisted on crowdsurfing despite security’s efforts to keep him on the performers’ side of the railing. He climbed over, more than once, at times standing upright on the hands of the eager crowd and came out mostly unscathed besides losing a shoe.
With all of the good music happening from sun up ‘til sun down, it was hard to catch every set, though I did also see a few minutes of Lionel Richie (“Easy Like Sunday Morning”!), Bobby Womack (“Across 110th Street”!), Cake (performing all the classics), and others. Another successful Bonnaroo for the books!
Elvis had only been gone for three months when a second Million Dollar Quartet, helmed by Johnny Cash, formed to honor him with a rendition of the gospel song "This Train." Cash's fantastic Christmas special aired Nov. 30, 1977 and featured Sun Studio notables Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison as well as longtime Cash sidemen Marshall Grant and W.S. Holland.
Cash's special also showcases the talents of Roy Clark, The Statler Brothers, and June Carter Cash. If you like your Christmas with a Memphis twist, this one's worth a click through.
Many people hate Dana. It's a thing. I actually like her, but just not on Homeland. Spin her off. Let her get into hijinks that don't involve national security — or that do, but don't have anything to do with Carrie and Saul. I'd love to watch Dana try to date boys in the insular, inside the Beltway District of Columbia. What happens when Dana dates the Muslim son of the Iranian ambassador? How does her Mom feel about that? I'd watch that.
Until then, we'll just have to amuse ourselves with Dana memes. Interestingly, her image is finding purchase in the pop cultural Zeitgeist ancillary to college football.
I wrote the cover story (plug, plug) in the November Memphis magazine, on the Grove scene in Oxford, Mississippi, during football season.
A sharp-eyed reader — Flyer Managing Editor Susan Ellis — noticed something odd on the Memphis magazine cover, and paired it with a Tweet she saw last weekend.
It appears Dana is on the cover of Memphis magazine. Play Where's Waldo? and see if you can find her, or just take a gander below:
Yesterday, on the anniversary of the concert, the downloadable clip was linked in the news section of the official David Bowie site.
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.
The mission of the “Becca Does Best Of” social media project was not to encourage voters to vote for certain things, but rather to remind them that the Best of Memphis competition that launched in 1994 is covered with history, much like Memphis itself. I found that whether I was talking to dominating winners of the BOM media categories, restaurant categories or retail categories - everyone I spoke to was passionate about Memphis and thankful to have the enduring love of their city in the annual Flyer poll.
Here are the past dominating winners in the Best of Memphis broadcasting category:
Joe Birch, who has won first place in the Best TV Anchor category since it began in 1994, said that winning Best Of Memphis is always a thrill. “I aspire to be the best everyday and often fail,” Birch said, “but I do really love this city. For every problem, there are armies of Memphians to solve them."
”It’s very gratifying! We do this job for the people, and we try to give the best information to the viewers,” said Dave Brown, who has been awarded Best TV Weatherperson since 1995. He advises hopefuls to do the best they can, adding ‘“technology is changing much faster than it did for me.”
Jarvis Greer, who strongly values his family as his support system, said he is honored to have been awarded Best TV Sportscaster since 1997. “I am humbled and honored the people like what I do. I just try to have fun with it,” he said.
Read on for the reigning Best in Memphis competition's winning restaurants:
Several Memphis eats have been awarded “Best of Memphis” in their various categories every year since the categories originated. These places are Huey’s (Best Burger), Folk’s Folly (Best Steak), Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous (Best Ribs), Sekisui (Best Japanese/Sushi) and Memphis Pizza Cafe (Best Pizza - Non-Chain).
And now for the dominating retail winners of Best of Memphis:
A few Memphis retailers have also been first in our Best of Memphis readers’ hearts for many years: Buster’s (Best Liquor Store), First Tennessee (Best Bank), Burke’s (Best Used Bookstore) and Tobacco Corner (Best Smoke Shop).
(Not pictured: First Tennessee - Best Bank since 1996.)
Take a gander at the history of Best of Memphis on Memphis Flyer’s Instagram, @memphisflyer/ #bestofmemphis or #beccadoesbestof. And as you look through these little pieces of Best Of Memphis history, become a part of history yourself by voting for this year’s winners. Voting for 2013 ends this Sunday, July 28th at midnight!
If you’re a frequent Instagram-mer, hopefully you follow the Memphis Flyer (@memphisflyer), and maybe you’ve noticed recent posts related to the annual Best Of Memphis issue, hashtagged with the super-catchy phrase “#beccadoesbestof.”
Hey, I’m Becca.
As a marketing intern for the Memphis Flyer, I’ve spent an abundance of time researching the history of the Best Of Memphis poll, which began in February 1994 (making this the 19th year!). While all of Memphis is dripping with history, I found, so is the Flyer’s annual Best Of Memphis competition. It is truly amazing to see the categories throughout the years that didn’t make it - such as “Best Place to Celebrate Divorce” (1994), "Best Place to Use Your Dog as a Chick/Dude Magnet” (1996) and “Best Place to Cure a Hangover” (1996).
There are many winners that have been voted “Best Of Memphis” the entire run of the competition, and these winners and Memphis have undeniable chemistry. Some have even celebrated seventeen, eighteen, or nineteen years of Best Of stardom.
For the past three weeks doing “Becca Does Best of” (so catchy, right?), I have also thoroughly enjoyed coming up with some silly categories of my own, for example: the Peabody Ducks are clearly the Best Ducks Around, and Beale Street is the Best Place to Legally Beat Open-Container Laws.
Check out these and more interesting categories and pictures on Memphis Flyer’s Instagram, @memphisflyer/ #bestofmemphis. And while I continue to revisit the history of the annual competition, be sure to cast your vote for the 2013 Best of Memphis using the online ballot now until July 28th!
In a recent telephone press conference, actor and comedian Bob Saget, legendary punk rocker Billy Idol, and festival founder and promoter Rick Farman chatted with reporters about the upcoming festival.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Bonnaroo Comedy Theater, and Bob Saget will perform two sets there on Sunday, June 16th. “I’ve done some festivals, but nothing of this height, and I’m very excited about it,” Saget said. “Lewis Black kept asking me to play Bonnaroo year after year. He said it’s one of the best festivals he’s ever been to because it’s got so much heart behind it.”
Saget said he’ll combine comedy and music in his act, pulling material from his recent comedy specials and incorporating some new material. He’ll feel out the audience, soak in the vibe, and form his act around that. “There won’t be any synthesizer screens coming on as I tell kids what they should and shouldn’t do and don’t drink beer at the Sock Hop or whatever the hell I did on Full House,” Saget said. Though he did jokingly express concern over possible mishaps during the show: “Nobody can like accidentally slingshot some ecstasy into my mouth from the audience right, where by the end of my second set, I’m just in love with everyone?” he asked. “I might wear a beekeeper’s hat in order to keep anything from coming toward my mouth.”
English rocker Billy Idol will be performing a late-night slot Saturday, June 15th and promises to play a “party set.” “It’s around midnight, and I know Bonnaroo’s pretty famous for partying,” Idol said. “In fact, I usually go on stage pretty straight these days, but I’m hoping to get the biggest contact high of all time.”
Idol’s “party set” will include hits like “Rebel Yell,” “Eyes Without a Face,” “White Wedding,” "Dancing With Myself,” and “Mony Mony,” as well as a few Generation X songs and a new song or two. Idol said the set will be a representation of all of the music throughout his career, and fans can expect “balls to the wall” energy from his performance. He is excited to play for an audience that may not come to a Billy Idol concert otherwise. “It’s even more exciting to get to come to something like Bonnaroo and play to a bunch of crazies at 12 at night and have one hell of a party,” he said. “They throw things at me, I understand. But if they come up there and they want to fuck me to death, I understand that as well.”
Bonnaroo founder and promoter, Rick Farman, is amped for this year’s festivities and said they are offering a new program to bring more of the surrounding community to the event. “This year, we’re focusing on Nashville and offering a combined package where you buy a ticket, and you have a shuttle to get down to the festival and take you back,” Farman says. This is a way for those who are curious about Bonnaroo but don’t want to commit to the four-day camping experience to get a taste of what the festival has to offer.
“Over the years, we’ve really sought to diversify the ways that you can do Bonnaroo,” Farman said. Of course, attendees can stay in an area hotel or bring their own camping gear or RV, but Bonnaroo also offers on-site RV or tent rental. “It’s always been a part of our plan to try and make Bonnaroo as attractive and accessible to a variety of different audiences and a variety of different economic levels,” he said.
Farman says the inspiration for Bonnaroo comes from European festivals like Glastonbury, Roskilde, Reading, Leeds, and Lowlands. “They’ve been going on for 30, 40, 50 years and have really become iconic and part of the overall culture of the countries that they’re situated in,” Farman said. “I think that’s what we aspire to be. We’re on our way to being 12 years in. We’ve still got a lot of growing up to do, but we really believe that we’ve got a very long life ahead of us. We couldn’t be happier about that, too."
For a chance to win tickets to Bonnaroo 2013, go here and complete a short survey. Winners will be notified via email by noon tomorrow (Friday, June 7) and must be able to pick up tickets at our office downtown.
Renovation has begin on the Hotel Chisca, where WHBQ's "Red, Hot, & Blue" disc jockey Dewey Phillips first introduced the world to Elvis Presley, and rock-and-roll. Working with a skeleton crew of volunteers filmmaker turned preservationist Mike McCarthy removed glass, and acoustic tile from the booth where Phillips conducted the world's first Rock-and-Roll interview.
Mike McCarthy gets his hands dirty to preserve a piece of Memphis' musical legacy.
In a previous interview with The Flyer developer Terry Lynch of Main Street Partners LLC said he had identified areas where the historic booth might be incorporated into the renovation.
Throughout the afternoon and evening, there was an art auction, with pieces donated by local artists and photographers. Proceeds benefitted Literacy Mid-South. The event provided a sample of the creativity, politics, and vision that has surrounded Underground Art and its burgeoning community for the past 20 years.
“We’ve evolved to encompass a lot of smaller local communities,” said Angela Russell, who opened the shop in 1993. “I think that the shop itself has proven to be a safe haven for all sorts of people, and we’ve built our own tight-knit community of friends and chosen family.”
Live From Memphis, the volunteer-supported film, music, and arts organization that has captured so many Memphis music moments and showcased them to the world, is calling an end to its 12-year run.
Founder Christopher Reyes posted a letter on livefrommemphis.com today letting fans know that the website has run its course.
From the letter:
"You may have noticed that livefrommemphis.com has been having some issues lately. The bottom line is that our site has far out grown our resources to run it. Over the last two years, I've been juggling content between servers to keep costs down. It's finally come to that point where we just can't do it anymore. We had the passion, just not the financial support."
Reyes included some tough advice for his city at the end of his letter:
" To Memphis, demand more from your leadership. Stop celebrating mediocrity. Stop funding crappy advocacy groups and meaningless brand campaigns. The creatives of Memphis need more than just cheerleaders. Filling out the check box is no way to make change."
Live From Memphis was responsible for many arts events and projects over the course of its run, but most notable are the Lil' Film Fest (a quarterly theme-based film fest) and the Music Video Showcase (an annual round-up of local music videos run in conjunction with the Indie Memphis Film Festival.
Reached by Facebook on Tuesday, King declined to comment on how he caught up to the software entrepreneur whose flight from the law following the alleged murder of a neighbor is the subject of tabloid intrigue.
King and Vice editor in chief Rocco Castoro posted a short piece and photos from Guatemala, where they reported McAfee had contracted an attorney. The article says the two are at work on a documentary film about MacAfee and his time on the lam following the alleged murder of a neighbor with whom he had quarreled.
King has a long history of finding his subject. Earlier assignments have found him in the company of Julian Assange and Moqtada al Sadr. He is the subject of a documentary film, Shooting Robert King, and an article in Rolling Stone about journalists working in the warzone of Iraq, where King was kidnapped and then released. He has photographed in Iraq and chronicled conflicts in Chechnya and the Chiapas region of Mexico. King’s video work in Syria led to his recently being interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN.
King grew up in Memphis the son of John King, an early partner with John Fry in Ardent studios.