With France's Cheveu, England's Hipshakes, Japan's Rockin' Enocky one-man band, German guitarist Roman Aul (who will front a Memphis-meets-Oxford, Mississippi supergroup called The Brand New Love Affairs), and Canadian duo The Leather Uppers (who made their debut on Goner Records with the release of their Bright Lights album in June), this weekend's Goner Fest 3 is shaping up as a garage-rock world summit.
"The stars aligned, and a few of these foreign bands were able to make it, which has got us really excited," says Goner Records co-owner Zac Ives, who booked the three-day music festival along with the label and retail store's founder, Eric Friedl.
Rockin' Enocky -- a member of the Japanese rockabilly trio Jackie & the Cedrics and a friend of Friedl's for more than a decade -- is traveling the farthest, some 6,600 miles from Tokyo to Memphis. Yet it's his second trip to the Bluff City in less than six months -- he turned up at the Ponderosa Stomp last May.
Experimental French rockers Cheveu are traveling 4,500 miles to get here, which barely beats out Sheffield, England, trio the Hipshakes. But Cheveu has a three-week stateside tour planned, while the Hipshakes are flying 8,600 miles round-trip to play just one set in Memphis.
"We were surprised and happy to get the Goner Fest invitation. It's given us a lot of energy," says Cheveu's Olivier, who explains that they've booked shows in other cites before and after their Gonerfest appearance.
"It's worked out great," says Friedl. "I think Cheveu wanted to tour the U.S., and [Goner Fest] gave them a good excuse to do it.
"The Hipshakes are crazy. There's no reason for them to come over for one show, other than the fact that they're young and they want to do it," he adds.
Although he'd be the last to admit it, Friedl is the number-one reason that these musicians are traveling so far. His former group The Oblivians (which also featured Jack Yarber and Greg Cartwright) are a "mythic band" in Europe, says Olivier, who lists Memphians like Yarber and Jeffrey Evans along with local bands Viva L'American Death Ray Music and The Cool Jerks among his favorite performers.
"We first heard the Oblivians on a compilation in a crap metal magazine [that] had been put together by The Hives," says Hipshakes bassist Andrew Anderson, who cites the Memphis band as a major influence.
While they performed at Chicago's Horizontal Action Blackout Fest last May, the Oblivians aren't on the roster for Goner Fest 3. The band, which officially called it quits at the end of the 1990s after releasing six albums, last played in Memphis on Halloween 2003; today, Cartwright lives in Asheville, North Carolina, which makes odds for an impromptu reunion highly unlikely.
"In a way, that Oblivians reunion was the start of all this," says Friedl. "After we booked that Halloween show at the Hi-Tone, we realized that all of these people were coming to town, so another night [of entertainment] was added, with The Final Solutions and a bunch of other bands. It was so much fun that we decided to set up a legitimate festival."
"It also has a lot to do with the Goner Records Web site and message board, which really fosters a community," Ives says. "We're constantly surprised by the gung-ho attitudes of Goners around the world."
More than 300 people a night packed the Hi-Tone Café for Goner Fest 2 last September; this weekend, Goner Records, Live From Memphis, and Rocket Science Audio are releasing a DVD of that experience.
"People come because there are so many bands on the bill they want to see," Ives says. "It's about the crew you go with and meeting friends at the shows. Spending three days in Memphis, you get to do Stax and Sun, eat barbecue and fried chicken, and hopefully get a little more out of it than getting your head kicked in by a bunch of bands."
According to Olivier, Cheveu plan to eat plenty of barbecue, tour Graceland, and visit Al Green's church during their weekend in Memphis. The Hipshakes' Anderson says simply, "We'll have to have the most fun ever -- there's no choice."
Goner Fest 3 kicks off with a performance from the King Louie One Man Band at Goner Records on Thursday, September 28th. Other events will be held at the Hi-Tone Café, the Buccaneer, and Sun Studio. For a complete line-up, go to www.Goner-Records.com/Gonerfest.html.