Singer Susan Marshall really set the tone when she kicked off the Generation M Luncheon, held at The Peabody last Friday, with an edgy cover of Steely Dan's "Dirty Work." Belting out the lyrics "Times are hard/You're afraid to pay the fee/So you find yourself somebody who can do the job for free," Marshall diagnosed exactly what's wrong with Memphis music: While a few stars manage to claw their way to the top, their careers are built on the backs of dozens of lesser-known musicians who consistently toil in the studio and on the road with little to no acclaim.
The vibe was not only "Give the drummer some" but give the bass players, the saxophonists, the producers, and the engineers something too, as independent musicians and representatives from Ardent, Royal, and Easley-McCain studios took their moments in the spotlight. "People who contribute without their faces on the album cover," Recording Academy director Jon Hornyak elaborated, as he handed out certificates lauding releases in the rock, pop, gospel, rap, and smooth-jazz genres.
The line-up at the Buccaneer reads like a veritable who's who on the local garage-rock scene, as The Tearjerkers, Tyler Keith & the Preacher's Kids, Monsieur Jeffrey Evans & Ross Johnson, The Jenny Jeans, The Grown-Up Wrongs, The Dutch Masters, The Final Solutions, The Black Diamond Heavies, and Plywood Doghouse band together for a two-night benefit (scheduled for Friday, May 27th, and Friday, June 10th) for bassist Terrence Bishop.
A member of the Tearjerkers, The River City Tanlines, The Kenny Brown Band, and The Subteens, Bishop has been a mainstay on the Memphis scene for more than a decade. He was injured in a motorcycle wreck last month. While he's expected to make a full recovery, medical expenses -- as well as regular monthly bills -- are mounting.
"Terrence has played with a million bands over the years," says Scott Rogers, who bartends at the Buccaneer when he's not performing with the Jenny Jeans or the Dutch Masters. "He maintains a job and manages to play music too, but after his wreck, he's been unable to work. Like so many musicians, he doesn't have health insurance. Any one of us could be in this position," Rogers says, explaining why so many bands are willing to help.
Anyone who's enjoyed Bishop's bass playing ought to turn up for an evening of great music and an opportunity to lend a hand to one of the sweetest guys on the Memphis music scene. Shows each night start at 7:30 p.m. Ten bucks will get you in the door, with all proceeds going to the cause.
Local Music News and Notes: We've already got new albums from Lucero, Jay Ruffin, and the late Rufus Thomas on the racks. Here's what's coming next: Memphis International Records is dropping soulster Earl Thomas' new album, Intersection, on May 31st. On June 7th, Sid Selvidge is releasing a double CD/DVD on Archer Records, culled from his performances at Otherlands last fall. The same day, Inside Sounds is releasing harmonica virtuoso Billy Gibson's latest, simply called The Billy Gibson Band, recorded at Charlie Wood's Daddy-O Studios with guitarist David Bowen, bassist James Jackson, and drummer Cedric Keel After threatening to steal the show at the 2005 International Blues Challenge, regional blues duo Elam McKnight & Keith Carter cut The Last Country Store at Kid Laster's Eaton, Tennessee, grocery. Fans of hill-country and hellbent acoustic blues will love the gritty title track as well as songs such as "Going Away" and "Ain't Gonna Plow No More" Ed Porter has a new Loverly Records compilation slated for release this summer. Expect tracks from Memphis folks such as Doug Easley, The Reigning Sound, and nearly a dozen more artists on the album, which should be available at local indie retailers in June In the meantime, the double-disc It Came From Memphis compilation, collected by author Robert Gordon for the Barbican's recent festival, should satisfy local music fans. Consisting of 39 tracks, which run the gamut from Mose Vinson's "Same Thing on My Mind" to Travis Wammack's "Scratchy," The Tearjerkers' "White Lie, Black Eye," and Jim Dickinson's "Down in Mississippi," the album builds on the premise of Gordon's earlier comps (It Came From Memphis Vol. 1 & 2, released in 1995 and 2001, respectively) without repeating a single song. "Part of the mandate was to include popular music, but I think it's cool the way the Reigning Sound and William Bell blend in together. There's bajillion-sellers and never-released tracks, and they all sound great -- further proof that there's no lack of wild and provocative Memphis material to share with the world," Gordon says.