Clark: My first paid gig as a musician was in 1969. I was writing songs and working in a studio by the middle '70s. I worked at Pop Tunes in the 70s and had shows on WLYX for a number of years. All of that experience culminated into a situation where I fell into writing in the 1980s. Besides writing, I had sort of a rep among certain people in Memphis during the ‘70s and ‘80s. I programmed all of the music for TGI Friday’s, the Bombay Bicycle Club, the Peabody, rock-and-roll clubs, urban cowboy shit, punk rock, German restaurants, Japanese restaurants. So I got a rep for being the guy who could program music, who could choose music.
#2. Know the right people.
Clark: The Oxford American thing would never had happened if it hadn’t been for Jim Dickinson. So when Jim was in discussions with Marc Smirnoff about this idea for the music issue and CD idea, Jim recommended me. That’s how it happened. I wrote liner notes on Big Star Third and the Number One Record/Sister Lovers twofer CD. I recorded with Alex on a number of things with Alex. Some of which I regard as the worst stuff he ever did. It was more colorful as the experience.
#3. Develop themes.
Clark: Trying to address Tennessee is the most daunting task of any of the Southern states. Unlike any other state, there’s no music industry center. Nashville and Memphis make Tennessee ground zero for some of the most important and influential music of the last century. It’s insane. One of the things that I had to address is the nature of Memphis and Nashville being the centers that they are. It wouldn’t be capturing a big part of the story if I didn’t acknowledge and address the journey to these places. If I just had artists that were born in Tennessee, I don’t think that I’d be telling the story. Al Greene, Elvis, a huge chunk of Texas moved to Nashville in the last 40 years. I had to have the narrative of the journey, the pilgrimage aspect.
Complexity and Loss
Clark: While the lines of demarcation seem apparent to most people, the cross pollination is important. I was going for the smear between Nashville and Memphis. It’s interesting; the DeVilles were looking for a white lead singer who sang like a black guy. They found Alex Chilton singing at the Central High Talent Show. One of the songs he sang was by [Bobby Hebb] a black guy from Nashville, who had actually played with Roy Acuff in the Grand Ole Opry. “Sunny,” which has always been one of the most interesting hits of the 60s. He wrote it in the wake of his brother’s murder. It was shortly after JFK had been murdered. It appealed to trying to keep a positive disposition in trying times. It’s almost like a jazz song in many ways. It’s an attempt to highlight the many complexities of Tennessee.
#4. Mix the dang thing up.
Clark: I could easily have filled the CDs with big artists or with big hits from homegrown Tennesseans. I’ve always felt on these CDs that the little chestnuts that you don’t know about share the same air as the well known artists. To have them side by side on these CDs is a way of dignifying their equal importance. Their equally worthy. So that’s why Van Buren or Tommy Hoehn would be on this CD with Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley, and Al Green. In some ways a more familiar artist is always served as a kind of emotional palette cleanser. If you do two CDs of stuff that’s only obscure, the emotional landscape flattens out.
Local production company Inside Sounds will take over the Buckman Performing Arts Center at St. Mary's for two nights this week. Thursday they present An Evening of Acoustic Blues with David Evans, Wally Ford and Eddie Dattel, and the Ghost Town Blues Band, winners of the 2014 Memphis Blues Society IBC Competition. Friday night they return with another installment of Fried Glass Onions. The Memphis-plays-Beatles concept that has now spawned four releases. Friday's performance celebrates the release of the fourth installment, Memphis Loves the Bealtes. Performers include
Daddy Mack, Sir Charles Ponder, Nora Tucker, Dave Smith, Matt Isbell, and Dave Smith.
Tickets are $15.00 in advance at www.buckmanartscenter.com $20.00 the day of the show.
The impossibly news-worthy Bo-Keys just announced that their single "I'm Still In Need" will appear in the major motion picture Grudge Match starring Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone as aging boxers with a score to settle. The film debuts on Christmas . While technically not Jake LaMotta versus Rocky, it's another great get for Percy Wiggins and the band. Congratulations, again. Here's the trailer:
Memphis is premiering at Sundance in January. Here's Sundance's page for the film, which includes this description:
A strange singer with God-given talent drifts through his adopted city of Memphis with its canopy of ancient oak trees, streets of shattered windows, and aura of burning spirituality. Surrounded by beautiful women, legendary musicians, a stone-cold hustler, a righteous preacher, and a wolf pack of kids, the sweet, yet unstable, performer avoids the recording studio, driven by his own form of self-discovery. His journey quickly drags him from love and happiness right to the edge of another dimension.
Writer/director Tim Sutton crafts an impressionistic folktale framed around the enigmatic musician/poet Willis Earl Beal and the city of Memphis. Adding a new legend to the city’s rich history, Memphis is an elusive document of myth-making and the sources that feed those myths. Similar to his first feature, Pavilion, Sutton blurs the lines between fiction and reality, taking the audience to a wholly contemporary dreamlike world, bolstered by Chris Dapkin’s sublime camera and a driving blues soundtrack by Beal.
The cast includes Memphis musicians John Gary Williams and Larry Dodson of the Bar-Kays.
Indiewire has more.
Trailer after the jump:
Johnny Mathis is a distinguished guy. He had to make a choice between pursuing a singing career or becoming an Olympic athlete. Mathis is the longest-tenured artist at Columbia Records and the first artist for whom there was a Greatest Hits album. He sang a melodic style of music starting in the mid ’50s and sold millions. His voice remains a staple of the holidays. While the counterculture came and went, Mathis stuck with his true self and is still kicking and crooning. He’s a super nice guy. We talked about music, and he even called my mother, a lifelong fan, to wish her a Merry Christmas. Johnny Mathis will be at the Orpheum on Saturday, December 21st.
They knew how to make logos back in the day. Does your band have a rad logo? I bet they don't. Not like Southern Creed. Dudes were on Asylum in the 70s. They're at the Daisy on Saturday.
Hosoi Bros, Purist and Holy Gallows play The Buccaneer this Saturday night. While Hosoi Bros have been around for a few years and have two singles under their belt, Purist will be celebrating the release of their first EP at the show. Filling out the bill is the ambient one man band Holy Gallows. Doors are at 9pm and admission is $5 dollars. Stream the new Purist EP, check out a complete set from Holy Gallows at the new Hi-Tone, and watch the video for "Snorlokk" by Hosoi Bros below.
Rhodes' MasterSingers Chorale and the Memphis Symphony perform. Check out the MasterSingers below. The concert is Friday night. Buy tickets here.
Israel's best blues band hits the Highland Strip. That is one fierce blues woman. Phillip Roth, call your office.
As this video shows, Opera Memphis will find you and they will come and get you with Opera. So do the right thing and go see the Christmas List, an original opera written by Sarah Squire, director of education for OM. The show runs all weekend at the Clark Opera Center.