Further proof that real grass-roots creativity is taking place in Crosstown. At a time when corporate interests are expropriating “the arts” as a catalyst to spur development (chain restaurants included) and line their own pockets these DIY efforts are the real deal.
I hope the re-creation of the Hi-Tone doesn't compete too much with this space. It would be awesome to have multiple successful music venues in that area!
I never went to the Hi-Tone because, to be honest, it's not my bag, man.
But I did go to a concert at the Shell and had the opportunity to talk to the band afterwards. I won't mention their name because I'd like to see them return. Here's what they told me. Some time before their Shell concert they played the Hi-Tone and had an awful experience, so awful they never thought they would come back to Memphis.
But somehow they ended up being booked at the Shell. Their Shell concert was so wonderful for them, they couldn't believe the difference and said they would definitely come back, provided they could play the Shell again.
So what was the difference? The audience. At the Hi-Tone, they said nobody seemed to care. At the Shell, people were dancing in front of the stage - dancing for the sheer joy of it. Several times during the concert the band were sitting on the edge of the stage playing for crowds of rapt children who crowded close to watch the musicians play their intruments, as well as dance and play and run around and have fun. I've been other places where people don't even clap after the songs, or if they do, it's just a few people, friends of the band and whatnot, while everyone else is too busy talking or texting or acting like drunk fools.
Yeah, it's demographics and money. That's a huge part of it. It does strike me odd that the owner of a venue would complain that musicians can't make enough money playing in Memphis - that seems kinda like the businessman complaining that his employees only make minimum wage. But there really just isn't enough money in this town. Nobody wants to be the first to pay a decent wage, and that includes the people who pay the band.
my advice to all musicians... leave. your efforts will be appreciated so much more in many other areas of the country.
Nice sidebar. I can’t help but wonder if the demographics of Memphis have changed that much since the hay-day of Overton Square - where arguably we had a robust live music scene - but I guess they have. One must also wonder what it is exactly that the numerous music “commissions” do to promote live music in Memphis. (Quite frankly I wish you would have called up Dean Dayo and asked when was the last time he set foot in a live music venue)
Many large cities have entertainment commissions that help nightlife promoters work in-tandem with city officials to cut city hall red-tape and provide clear lines of communication with law enforcement. However, many of those commissions are made up of a wide cross section of stakeholders including young concertgoers. When is the last time Memphis looked to our youth for answers? (Outside of bike lanes) On any topic.
This is a clear list of roadblocks. But a well-rounded story would have looked at other cities and offered some solutions/ideas. Never leave your readers hopeless. Because, a vibrant music scene often equates to advertising dollars for the local alt weekly. You got skin in this game.
If bands like The Barbaras, who I am well aware have already broken up, were the saviors of Memphis music, then I am glad that Memphis music is dying.
The closing of the Hi-Tone should be a wake-up call to the people of Memphis and the Mid-South that all is not well. Memphis, our city is dying. Our music scene is dying. Our institutions are dying. Live From Memphis halted their 15-year run supporting Memphis music in January due to lack of funding and lack of support. We are rapidly running out of time to attempt a rescue of our local music industry. What are you going to do?
At one time one of the BEST venues in this town. But in the last couple of years it was plagued by bad service,,bad environmental conditions,,and just plain bad attitudes. People won't go to an abusive atmosphere to have a good time. When Hi-Tone dies,,,it dies clean BUT it died by it's own hand. What a shame. a.j.
i'll be stunned if the hitone is standing sunday. what a great show to end on (but is it really ending)?
ps stiv was a close friend at the time and he knew we'd done it...
Stiv didn't deface that billboard, Gabi Berlin and I did. And I was wearing stilletto heels when I did it. I'd love a picture of that.
manager, the Germs
Great article! Great guy!
My goodness! This makes me overjoyed and delighted at the same level. I've heard about some stories from my mother (Elizabeth Perry) over the years, of being a Teen Town Singer in Memphis in the 50's. She still recalls the station WDIA which is etched in her memory. Instead of following her career with a chance of singing and taking the offer to continue onto Chicago. She followed her heart instead and married my late father Calvin. It's all become clearer now. Thanks to this story and the blessing of the internet.
R.I.P. Ernie! I'll never forget the trips to Vegas, and the nights at "Ernies".
Yes the blues are cool!!!!
Incestuous nu-metal scene holding on to horrible music from the late 90's in Memphis? SIGN ME UP!!
The "Whirlaway Club"n Lamar was another hang out for John Knott and "Bunny Lee" was the featured dancer!
Hey Thanks for the shout Out !!! so happy! By the way my last name is Cosby, Josh Cosby, no hard feelings just letting yall know.
Well at least The Switchblade Kid gets some love.
By Louis Goggans
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