Surveying the progeny swarming around Dan and Ashley Harper's backyard at Memphis' first Rock-n-Romp on Saturday, April 1st, I realized that in another 15 or 20 years, this city is gonna have some kick-ass bands. With 50 or so kids -- most the offspring of Midtown musicians, artists, and writers -- in attendance, the local music scene is guaranteed to be in good shape for the next generation.
With music provided by Amy & the Tramps, Noise Choir, and Colin Butler's wheels of steel, the Rock-n-Romp was an unmitigated success -- despite the actions of one curmudgeonly neighbor who decided to call the cops on the afternoon gig. Organizers plan to hold another party on June 17th. Visit MemphisRocknRomp.blogspot.com, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for info. Only caveat: You must have a child (or borrow someone else's) to attend.
The scene at the Memphis chapter of the national Recording Academy's second annual Generation M luncheon, held at the Peabody hotel last Tuesday, was decidedly more eclectic. Rappers rubbed shoulders with gospel singers and industry insiders mingled with hipsters, all looking to the past -- and future -- of Memphis music.
"This year, we have some wonderful success stories to celebrate," said Jon Hornyak, director of Memphis' Grammy chapter, before 2006 Grammy nominees Wayne Jackson (who played trumpet on Neil Young's Prairie Wind), John Hampton (who helped mix the White Stripes' Get Behind Me Satan), and Ralph Sutton (engineer on Stevie Wonder's A Time To Love) came onstage to collect their certificates.
Rapper Al Kapone, who collected an award for his Golden Globe-winning hit "Whoop That Trick," and Church of God in Christ's Bishop G.E. Patterson, on hand to celebrate his Grammy-nominated gospel album Singing the Old Time Way, got the afternoon's biggest shout-outs. Just another example of the diversity that dominates the local music scene today.
That range was evident again when North Mississippi Allstars Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson, and Chris Chew climbed onstage with Kapone, Jimmy Crosthwait, Jimmy Davis, Jimbo Mathus, Kevin Houston, and Jim and Mary Lindsay Dickinson to thank the audience for its support.
"There's only one thing on earth that means more to me than Memphis music, and that's my family," noted Luther and Cody's father Jim Dickinson, who produced the Allstars' Electric Blue Watermelon, a nominee in the contemporary blues category.
"It's crazy, man. We just won an Oscar," said rapper Frayser Boy, accepting a special award from NARAS for his participation in Three 6 Mafia's Academy Award-winning song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." "This is something I never thought was possible. God put it in my hands."
Backstage, Kapone echoed Frayser Boy's comments, saying, "It's good to get some glory and love after so many years of hard work."
Not that Kapone shows any signs of slowing down: He has a song in Craig Brewer's next flick, Black Snake Moan, another in the animated feature Barnyard, two tracks in an upcoming Snoop Dogg movie, a cut in a horror film called Dirt Nap, and a song with Lil Jon called "Snap" coming down the pipeline.
After lunch, it was back to work for the majority of attendees, including the North Mississippi Allstars, who headed to Ardent Studios, and The Bo-Keys, who went to Willie Mitchell's Royal Studio. Both groups were cutting tracks for Barnyard, set for release later this year.
New releases in the bins: The River City Tanlines' new LP on the Soul Is Cheap label, Blair Combest's sophomore effort on Makeshift, and Back To Bentonia, Broke & Hungry Records' first release from Bentonia, Mississippi, bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 20th, when Holmes, a natural heir to the Skip James/Jack Owens style of spooky, acoustic blues, will host a release party at his juke joint The Blue Front Café, located about three hours south of Memphis off Highway 49. Broke & Hungry Records owner Jeff Konkel is offering a "Blues Bus" shuttle service from Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art in Clarksdale. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.