This weekend's music calendar is jam-packed, providing two opportunities to catch Memphis acts on the rise and putting out brand-new material.
The first of those opportunities comes Friday, May 17th, at Bar DKDC when lo-fi garage-rockers James and the Ultrasounds celebrate the release of their fine debut EP, Lovers and Ghosts.
James and the Ultrasounds is the personal project of James Godwin, a lifelong Memphian, who got his start in the music scene as a teenager playing bass alongside current Star & Micey drummer Jeremy Stanfill in the alt-rock group that was at various times known as Crippled Nation, the United, and, finally, Streetside Symphony.
"Jeremy and I had a band, and we would play songs every day after school. Eventually, we just stopped going to school altogether because it was cutting into our music time," Godwin says.
Even after that project fizzled, Godwin has stayed busy. From there, he went on to be a member of the New Mary Jane with former Grifters frontmen Dave Shouse and Scott Taylor. He's also recently been performing off and on with local heavyweights John Paul Keith and Jack Oblivian.
"Playing with Jack and JPK and two of the Grifters has really been amazing," Godwin says. "They're all so creative in different ways, even beyond music. Jack taught me how to wash my clothes in a motel sink, a lesson that has come in handy many times. JPK took me to Europe last year. I mean, how often do you get to play in Serbia? All of those guys are awesome and have taught me so much. Just being around them has made me a better musician. The New Mary Jane is my favorite band I've ever been in — I hope we do some shows again one day."
But despite all of his experience, Godwin never considered being a bandleader himself until a few years ago, when he started writing songs "just for fun." One of those earliest compositions was a psych-rock tune called "Astronaut," which appears on Lovers and Ghosts.
"About two years ago, I wrote the song and started passing it around to people, and they seemed to like it. That's kinda when this EP started to come together," he says."I was traveling a lot with JPK and Jack and meeting people and staying up all night. I always carry a notebook with me, and when I'd get home, I'd just read through it and the tunes would write themselves."
In time, Godwin amassed enough material and outside support to put together a band and start playing shows. The current lineup includes guitarist Luke White, drummer John Argroves, and bassist David Johnson.
With the lineup of the band now firmly in place, James and the Ultrasounds are looking forward to seeing what the band can accomplish in the studio. Godwin recorded and performed most of Lovers and Ghosts by himself, but that won't be the case in the future.
"Everyone in the band is a talented person who I am lucky to have playing with me," Godwin says. "We're gonna tour some this year and write the next record together. I can't wait to make the next record."
James and the Ultrasounds Lovers and Ghosts Release Party
With Wind vs. Sun and Richard James
Friday, May 17th
10 p.m., $5
On Saturday, May 18th, the Beauty Shop will host the release party for iii, the third LP by the local ambient/electronic outfit Midnight Sound Service. The project is the brainchild of longtime Memphis musician Aaron Rude (formerly of underground rock bands such as Doubt and the Color Cast), who has been active, albeit off and on, since 2001, when the death of a close friend and collaborator inspired Rude to pursue the project more seriously.
"It was that event that drove me to continue in the spirit of what we had planned together," Rude says. "I really started pouring myself into recording, which was my first ever attempt at actual software sequencing or multitrack recording on a computer."
Rude created two Midnight Sound Service records in the early 2000s before being sidetracked by the Color Cast and other life interruptions. But in 2007, he found himself working on new material and decided to reboot the band. Over the course of the next several years, Rude amassed more than two hours' worth of new music.
"I recorded tons and tons of songs, most of which I couldn't fit on one record," he says. "Although I toyed with the idea of putting out a massive release, I just felt that was slightly overambitious, so I settled eventually on the idea of doing enough to make a standard LP full of tunes."
To help him realize his newest creations in a live setting, Rude has turned to a crack team of established local players, including drummer Ben Bauermeister (Toxie, Magic Kids, the Warble), bassist Jeremy Freeze (Jerusalem and the Starbaskets), and guitarist John Garland (the Lost Sounds) to create a more "organic" version of Midnight Sound Service.
"I've tried to give everybody, including myself, the creative freedom to interpret the recordings, but I feel confident that the spirit of the recordings is definitely coming through," he says. "It's very rewarding to have the opportunity to hear these songs reimagined for what is essentially a rock-band kind of situation."
Midnight Sound Service iii Release Party
The Beauty Shop
Saturday, May 18th
10:30 p.m., free