Behind-the-scene changes at the Hi-Tone Café: Dave Green, the club's co-owner and longtime talent buyer, has bowed out, selling his share of the biz to his partner, Bryan Powers. "It was a great job. I loved every second of it," says Green, who's relocating to south Florida later this month. "Running the Hi-Tone was like a college education. A lot of nights, I had to beat my head against the wall to make it work."
While Powers is now the club's sole owner, David Lorrison and Chris Walker have taken over the booking responsibilities. Those should be familiar names: Lorrison opened the Hi-Tone in 1998, before selling to Green and Powers four years later. Walker is best known for his work with Barristers, which he briefly owned.
Patrons of the bar should hardly notice a difference. "Both David and Chris have great ears, and they both really know the city," Green enthuses. "The Hi-Tone's gonna be in good hands."
Hats off to local rockabilly queen Amy LaVere, who just entered the studio to record her Archer Records debut. LaVere -- whom most Memphians will remember as the bass-playing half of the Gabe & Amy Show -- signed with the Archer label at the start of the year. Her band, Amy & the Tramps (which features guitarist Jason Freeman and drummer Paul Buchignani) is currently tracking at Archer Records' downtown studio, with Paul Taylor producing. The label expects LaVere's album to drop this spring, just before she hits the silver screen playing Wanda Jackson in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line.
Imprisoned rapper Turk checks in from 201 Poplar: "They keep setting back my trial," the New Orleans artist -- who was accused of attempting to murder a Shelby County sheriff's deputy last spring -- says. "I've been here a full year. If a person's guilty, take him to trial. I want to stand up for myself." No word yet on his day in court, and Turk, labeled a flight risk, hasn't been allowed to post bond.
Record-store bins are filling up with local releases: Collierville country-rock duo Jed & Kelley are celebrating the release of their debut CD, Lose To Win, at the P&H Café on February 4th. Keith Sykes produced the album, which features a rollicking version of his own "Lavender Blue," a heartrending cover of Ray Price's "I'll Be There," and nine of Jed Zimmerman's originals, at his Woodshed Studio. Think Buddy and Julie Miller: Jed & Kelley's harmonies are that good. For more info, go to JedAndKelley.com.
It had to happen: Inside Sounds label owner brought 14 Memphis artists into his studio last year to pay tribute to the Fab Four; their efforts have been compiled on Fried Glass Onions: Memphis Meets the Beatles. Hold up this album to similar efforts by the Telarc Blues label, which releases schlocky rock-and-roll tributes to Bob Dylan, the Stones, and the like, and there's simply no comparison: Fried Glass Onions blows the competition out of the water. All 14 songs on this comp are risk-takers. Check bluesman Daddy Mack Orr's Delta take on "Get Back" or Bertram Brown's soaring, sounds-like-Hi-Records version of "You're Gonna Lose That Girl." Charlie Wood's moody, jazzy "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" is unforgettable, while John Kilzer's "Across the Universe" sounds positively ethereal. Lamar Sorrento (who also painted the album cover) pulls out all the stops on a raunchy "A Hard Day's Night." From beginning to end, there ain't a bum note.
Later this month, Tunnel Clones will release Concrete Swamp, their long-awaited debut, while chanteuse Susan Marshall -- who's backed Lenny Kravitz, Norah Jones, Keith Richards, Lucinda Williams, and Steve Earle -- will celebrate her sophomore release, Firefly, with two concerts in early February. Everything's OK, Al Green's follow-up to last year's incendiary I Can't Stop, has a scheduled release date of March 1st. Fans of Ike Turner will want to check out The Bad Man, a collection of rare and unreissued recordings circa 1962-'65, available now on the Night Train label.
Midtown garage-rock label Goner Records has four releases slated for late January: Seven-inch E.P.s from the Dutch Masters -- a Memphis-meets-Oxford supergroup of sorts, featuring guitarists Eric Friedl (the Oblivians) and Scott Rogers (the Cool Jerks), bassist Talbot Adams (the Preacher's Kids), and drummer "Punk Rock" Pat McKeage -- and Corinth, Mississippi's Johnny Vomit & the Dry Heaves, alongside full-length albums from the BBQ & King Khan Show and the King Louie One Man Band.
Finally, No Dark in America, the late Sun pianist Rosco Gordon's last album (recorded in Nashville mere weeks before his death, with Wilco's Ken Coomer on drums) is available now on Dualtone Records. The rockin' 15-track CD includes plenty of topical themes like 9/11, calypso sounds (the joyfully off-kilter "A Night in Rio"), comedic moments ("You Look Bad When You're Naked"), and heartbreaking tunes ("Now You're Gone"). Rosco Gordon, 1928-2002. We miss you, brother.