Cory Branan Signs With Bloodshot Records
It's been six years since Mississippi/Memphis-bred songwriter Cory Branan's last officially released full-length album, 12 Songs, but we're finally getting a follow-up. Last week, venerable Chicago indie Bloodshot Records announced it had signed Branan and would be releasing his third album, Mutt, sometime this spring.
"We've had our eye on Cory for just about as long as he's been honing his air-tight, clever version of the perfect story-song," Bloodshot publicist Josh Zanger wrote in a release announcing the signing, "So after falling in love with a demo of his new material, we jumped at the chance to add him to the fold."
Both 12 Songs and Branan's debut The Hell You Say — arguably one of the very best Memphis albums of the past decade — were released via the local indie MADJACK, but, for a variety of reasons, Branan wasn't able to fully follow-through on the initial attention that debut generated. Branan has been playing and recording regularly in the years since 12 Songs, spending time in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Austin, Texas, and more recently decamping to Nashville. But it's been too long a wait for him to have a record out on a label with a national profile, and Bloodshot will provide that.
Bloodshot was at the forefront of the so-called alt-country scene in the '90s, serving as a launching pad for Dallas' Old 97's, among other acts. Currently, it's home to great '80s alt-rock survivors (Mekons' Jon Langford, X's Exene Cervenka) and some of the best younger roots/folk-oriented artists (Justin Townes Earle, Scott Biram). — Chris Herrington
Bo-Keys Up for Two Blues Music Awards
A belated congratulations to the Scott Bomar-led Memphis soul band the Bo-Keys, who are nominated in two categories at this year's Blues Music Awards. The nominations were announced just before Christmas and the Bo-Keys made the final cut in Band of the Year and Soul Blues Album of the Year for their Got To Get Back!.
Additionally, longtime vocal stalwart Jackie Johnson, who released the solo album Memphis Jewel last year, is up for Soul Blues Female Artist, while Mississippi's Johnny Rawls is up in multiple categories — Soul Blues Album and Male Artist and Best Song overall for the title track — on the strength of his Memphis Still Got Soul album.
Beyond the local connections, the heavyweights this year seem to be led by Louisiana's Tab Benoit and Florida's Tedeschi Trucks Band. Both are up for Album of the Year (for Benoit's Medicine and Tedeschi Trucks' Revelator), with Tedeschi Trucks also vying for Band of the Year and the married partners splitting into Contemporary Female Artist (Susan Tedeschi) and Gibson Guitar (Derek Trucks) categories. And Benoit follows his Album of the Year nod with nominations for B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, Contemporary Blues Album, and Contemporary Male Artist.
The 33rd Blues Music Awards will be held May 10th at the Cook Convention Center, but before that, the locally based Blues Foundation will host its annual International Blues Challenge, a battle-of-the-bands-style amateur talent search that will bring hundreds of hopefuls from around the country and the globe to Beale Street for five days of competition starting January 31st.
For a full list of BMA nominees and ticketing information, as well as more on the IBC, see blues.org. — CH
Live From Memphis Turns 11
The local, web-based arts/film/music organization Live From Memphis celebrated its 11th birthday last week. To mark the occasion, we asked founder Christopher Reyes a few questions:
Flyer: What does it mean to you to be celebrating 11 years of Live From Memphis? Did you ever think you'd make it this far?
Oh, no. I never thought we'd get to 10. Now I'm thinking about if we can make it to 20.
How has Live From Memphis changed over the years?
How we work hasn't changed very much. But the kinds of things we do has. We started out just recording local bands and posting it on the internet. Now we maintain a creative directory, a comprehensive arts calendar, a film festival, and all sorts of projects.
We also have a lot more help now — Sarah Fleming, Edward Phillips, (occasional Flyer contributor) Chris McCoy, and I are the core. But we have lots of people pass through the Live From Memphis doors looking to contribute and/or learn something.
How do you find the drive/energy to continually update the site and add new projects?
The fact is, we're all also artists, and we want to try new things and out-do ourselves. We're always looking for new outside-the-box ideas. I don't think that will ever stop. It's what keeps us going.
What new project are you most excited about?
The Mobile Music Machine [essentially a bicycle-operated traveling performance space] is by far the most fun for me. It combines two things I'm very passionate about: creative arts and healthier living.
What will Live From Memphis be working on in 2012?
We're working on several projects that I'm excited about, but our main focus now is the Music Video Showcase. It's really coming together to be something big this year. The event has gone from a single screening at Indie Memphis to an independent four-day festival.
I'm really proud of it. I probably shouldn't even say this, but there will be a surprise this year. It is something that people have pushed us toward in the past, but I didn't feel we were ready. Now I do. Let's just say we have something up our sleeves that has never been done in Memphis before.
Live from Memphis' seventh Music Video Showcase is set for early March at the downtown space the Warehouse. Entries — music videos not more than five minutes in length — are being accepted through January 31st. For more information on this and other Live From Memphis projects, see livefrommemphis.com.
— J.D. Reager