Around Town 

Classic-rock radio station Rock 103 is giving local bands the chance to shine at Memphis In May's Beale Street Music Festival. Jeffrey James & the Haul, Arma Secreta, Organ Thief, Dan Montgomery, and nine more Memphis rockers, who can be heard on the FM station's Sunday-night program The Great Unsigned, are battling it out for three spots at Overton Square's annual Crawfish Festival, slated for Saturday, April 14th, when a panel of judges will select one grand prize winner to play Memphis In May.

At press time, six-man jam band Dova Grove was in the lead, with a whopping 30 percent of the vote. But you've got until the afternoon of Wednesday, April 4th, to file your electronic ballot, so barring any loose chads, this is still anyone's game. Go to Rock103.com for details.

It's definite: After rumors, delays, and plenty of fodder for the gossip pages, Three 6 Mafia's Adventures in Hollyhood will debut on MTV Thursday, April 5th. The reality series picks up where the 2006 Academy Awards left off, chronicling what MemphisRap.com describes as DJ Paul, Juicy J, and Project Pat's "quest to establish themselves as Hollywood players."

So far, so good: Three 6 has already appeared on television shows, including Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and an upcoming album, Da Last 2 Walk, is due to hit stores in late May. Yet burning questions remain: Can the rap clique stay true to its Dirty South roots as members pimp themselves on the streets of La-La Land? Will anyone understand their North Memphis drawl delivered via mouthfuls of gold? Does "Sippin' on Syrup" translate to big success on the mean, big-city streets? Who knows -- but expect plenty of face time with Paris Hilton, Flava Flav, and other reality-show vets.

click to enlarge Alvin Youngblood Hart
  • Alvin Youngblood Hart

Meanwhile, former Three 6 cohort -- and current rival -- Koopsta Knicca is "fresh out of jail" and busy promoting his new album, The Return: Prophet Posse, Part 1, which was released on March 20th. Life has apparently imitated art for the rapper, whose song "Stash Spot" contains the lyrics, "Well I'm fresh up outta jail with no job/So I steal and rob." While Paul and Juicy were shaking hands with Oscar in February of 2006, Knicca was sitting inside 201 Poplar on aggravated assault and robbery charges. Last week, however, the resilient MC was signing autographs at Spin Street, living proof that any publicity is good.

Get ready to rock in Midtown this weekend: Robby Grant's group Vending Machine kicks off the partying early with a free Friday-night acoustic show at Shangri-la Records that starts at 6 p.m. Afterward, head over to The Buccaneer, where Alvin Youngblood Hart and John Paul Keith are holding court, with Mark Stuart and John Argroves providing the rhythm section for both. Saturday night, Vending Machine will be playing at the Buccaneer, along with Jeffrey James & the Haul and a solo performance from Mouse Rocket cellist Jonathan Kircksey.

April marks the return of two Memphians who are making a major splash on the national music scene: Former Accidental Mersh bassist Hank Sullivant, whose group The Whigs will be performing songs from their ATO debut, Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip, at Young Avenue Deli on Sunday, April 1st, and Clarence Greenwood, aka Citizen Cope, who hits the Deli on Tuesday, April 3rd.

Memphis' '50s-era rockabilly scene is getting plenty of airtime on local PBS affiliate WKNO. The hour-long documentary The Rockabilly Legends: They Called It Rockabilly Long Before They Called It Rock and Roll, narrated by hometowner Wink Martindale, follows the creation of the genre from the cottonfield to the honky-tonk via the careers of Johnny Burnette, Paul Burlison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and, of course, Elvis Presley. It also documents the influence of Sun Studios and regional platforms such as The Grand Ole Opry and The Louisiana Hayride. Catch the program on Channel 10, then pick up the accompanying coffee-table book, published by Hal Leonard, or the four-CD box set.

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