"Music is all I've done since I was 15, which is for the last 46 years."
So says Memphis native David "Flash" Fleishman, who, in the 1960s, fronted rock-and-roll bands Flash & the Memphis Casuals and Flash & the Board of Directors. A decade later, he was hired as a local promotions director for Atlantic Records, when Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones were that label's top draws. After working his way up the corporate ladder — and into a job at Atlantic's New York home office — Fleishman relocated to Los Angeles, where he served as vice president of rock promotion for MCA before going independent.
He's worked with legendary bands ranging from AC/DC to Yes, yet, at age 61, Fleishman's knee-deep into what he claims as possibly his most exciting project yet: AllMemphisMusic.com, an online radio station he started with former Memphian Jon Scott last year.
Sitting behind his computer in his home office (he and his wife, Jaye, moved back to town in 2004), Fleishman leans back in his chair and smiles. "Here's our studio," he says, gesturing to the gold and platinum records lining the walls and a daunting pile of CDs stacked on his butcher-block-style desk.
"Jon called me up one afternoon with the idea, and I thought about it all night. I tried to find the negative, but I couldn't. The artists get paid via BMI, and it's positive publicity for Memphis music. It's an absolute win for everybody involved," he says of the Internet station, which, via Web server Live365, plays everything from B.B. King and Little Milton to Jimmy Davis and Giant Bear, broadcasts the syndicated Beale Street Caravan radio program, and, through a partnership with the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, promotes events such as Memphis in May, Gonerfest, and this summer's Stax-centric 50 Years of Soul campaign.
The station's criteria are simple: music made in Memphis or the Mid-South, music made by Mid-Southerners, or music with a Memphis theme.
"Memphis music is global. The list of countries I see listening is astonishing," says Scott, who worked as a disc jockey at FM-100 during that station's progressive-rock heyday, introducing local audiences to David Bowie and ZZ Top before embarking on a career at MCA and ABC Records in L.A.
"We have a lot of transplanted Memphians who listen to us, plus a legion of fans who love the Memphis sound," he adds. "I don't think there's another station in the world like us."
While Scott says that technological advances and corporate dictums have taken the fun out of terrestrial radio, he says Internet radio "is like the Wild West."
Fleishman agrees. "It's interesting times. The Internet has definitely leveled the playing field," he says. "[Major labels] are in a horrible predicament right now, because their business is dependent on selling albums. Now anybody can make and promote a record. A guy from Missouri, Robert A. Johnson, sent us a letter thanking us for playing his music. He'd been contacted from people in Europe and on the East Coast about playing some shows there.
"We're promoting heritage, but we also want to expose new artists," Fleishman continues, explaining that after a year, All Memphis Music is now soliciting advertising, both on-air and via banner ads on its homepage. This Friday, October 5th, the station is also launching a new music show, which will showcase contemporary bands from 11 p.m. to midnight.
Incorporating current genres such as rap and indie rock is imperative to the station's mission, Fleishman says.
"We can't play every piece of music we're sent, but rap is the genre of the day, and it's Memphis music," he says. "Sure, we play Otis [Redding] and Elvis [Presley], but there's so much more than that. We love Nick Pagliari's new MADJACK record. Rice Drury, who is, I believe, a dentist, just made a very cool record."
There is still a Memphis sound, Scott says, listing Keith Sykes, Todd Snider, Paul Thorn, and the North Mississippi Allstars as four purveyors of the style.
"The niche-marketing aspect of it is in my heart," Scott says. "When I listen to our station online, I'm like, good God, there's so much talent in Memphis that it boggles my mind. I know I'm prejudiced, but I really love it!"
AllMemphisMusic.com is currently seeking new Memphis music. To get your songs played, send CDs to David Fleishman (9169 Tryon Cove, Memphis, TN 38108) or Jon Scott (5352 Norwich Ave., Sherman Oaks, CA 91411) or e-mail MP3s to AllMemphisMusic@aol.com.