Two annual local music-industry events will partner this weekend, as the local Recording Academy chapter's annual "Grammy GPS: A Roadmap for Today's Music Biz" partners with the Memphis Music Foundation's "Plug In Memphis: Indie Music Expo." Both events will take place at the Stax Music Academy and Museum of American Soul Music on Saturday, October 1st, with bookend showcase concerts Friday and Saturday night.
"October is Memphis Music Month, and in an effort to make this as big an event as possible, we wanted to expand," says Jon Hornyak, senior executive director of the Memphis Grammy chapter, a regional office that covers Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and St. Louis, in addition to West Tennessee.
"I like to say this is what happens when organizations communicate," says Music Foundation director of development and communications Pat Mitchell.
The two once-separate events have similarities: Both have been geared toward professional development information for musicians and other music-industry workers and exposure for musicians via showcase concerts. But the events are also different. Plug In is more purely local.
"Plug In was created to allow artists in Memphis to meet businesses that can help them in their careers," Mitchell says, citing such service providers as Audiographic Masterworks and Select-O-Hits and needs ranging from T-shirts to books, to car rentals, to publicity. In this way, Plug In is an extension of the Music Foundation's daily work at its Memphis Music Resource Center.
Grammy GPS is more focused on regional artists and industry representatives in the broader musical landscape.
"From our standpoint, [the partnership] gives us a trade-show component," Hornyak says. "We're doing panels, and people will be able to go back and forth. There's good synergy there. In one afternoon, [attendees] can get a good snapshot of what's going on locally but also a picture of what's going on nationally and globally."
Grammy GPS will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Stax Music Academy, featuring a variety of panels and workshops on music-industry topics, including "Pitching and Placing: Music for Film and TV," "Direct Connect: Social Media," and "Your Bottomline: Alternative Funding Sources." Panelists include representatives of prominent indie labels and management companies (Sub Pop, Thirty Tigers) and recording engineers who have worked with artists such as Beyoncé (DJ Swivel) and Jay-Z (Ken "Duro" Ifill).
The keynote speaker is Daniel Glass, founder/CEO of Glassnote Entertainment Group, whose label is home to the Grammy-nominated Mumford & Sons and GPS showcase headliner Givers, among other acts.
"Mumford & Sons' appearance at the Grammys was very significant," Hornyak says. "They didn't win, but they probably had the biggest bump of any act. This [event] is targeted to an indie audience, and Glassnote is one of the most successful indie labels."
While GPS events are happening at the Stax Academy, the Plug In event will take place next door at the museum from 1 to 3:30 p.m., with an exhibit area set up within the museum and an "experts lounge" that will allow visitors to get 20-minute one-on-one consultations with industry insiders involved in areas such as management, licensing, publishing, radio, and touring/booking.
The Plug In event is free. GPS is free for Recording Academy members. Conference admission for nonmembers is $35.
The two showcase concerts will feature emerging acts from around the region governed by the local Recording Academy chapter. Friday headliner Givers are a five-piece indie-rock/pop band from Lafayette, Louisiana. They signed with Glassnote early this year and released their debut album, In Light, this summer.
The band is something of a spiritual cousin to indie bands such as Yeasayer, Vampire Weekend, and the Dirty Projectors. Like those bands, Givers deploy African-derived (and, in their case, Cajun/zydeco-derived) sounds — polyrhythmic percussion, clean, spry guitar lines, open-hearted vocals — in a style all their own. And they share elements with their artier Yankee counterparts: subtle psychedelia (Yeasayer), propulsion (Vampire Weekend), gender interplay (Dirty Projectors). The latter comes from the shared vocals of guitarist Taylor Guarisco and second drummer Tiffany Lamson. The result is a furry, friendly, Southern-jam-band take on Afropop-schooled indie, captured on singles like the buoyant "Up, Up, Up" and the gnarlier "Meantime."
Givers will be joined at the Hi-Tone Friday night by Memphis rapper Cities Aviv, who has been getting loads of great — and greatly deserved — national indie press of late, and rockers Kruxe, along with Jackson, Tennessee, country-rockers GR Robinson.
At the closing showcase at Earnestine & Hazel's Saturday night, acts will include Memphis rapper Skewby, who played last year's Grammy GPS event, and New Orleans singer-songwriter Alexis Marceaux. Uniting Memphis and Louisiana will be Fille Catatonique, the musical moniker of singer-songwriter Marcella René Simien, a Louisiana native who relocated to Memphis a couple of years ago and is featured on Cities Aviv's debut album, Digital Lows.
Grammy GPS/Plug In Expo
Stax Music Academy and Museum
Saturday, October 1st
11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Hi-Tone Café: Friday, September 30th
Earnestine & Hazel's: Saturday, October 1st
For more information, see www.grammy365.com/events/memphis-grammy-gps-roadmap-todays-music-biz-0 or memphismeansmusic.com.