Memphis welcomes back a favorite son this week when jazz guitarist Calvin Newborn plays Café Soul Sunday, October 26th. A scion of one of the city's great musical families, Calvin is the son of drummer Finas and the younger brother of pianist Phineas. An acrobatic force on the local music scene that predated the rise of Elvis Presley, Newborn settled into an elder statesman, teaching at LeMoyne-Owen and the Stax Music Academy and becoming a jazz and blues club regular.
Earlier this decade, Newborn relocated to Jacksonville, Florida, though his last album, 2005's New Born, was recorded locally at Phillips Recording and released via the Memphis-connected Yellow Dog label. Newborn will return home to join local musicians Tony Thomas, Earl Thomas, and Tom Lonardo at Café Soul, located in the South Main Arts District, Sunday, October 26th, with a 3 to 7 p.m. show.
But there's another reason Newborn is in town: In their prime, the Newborn family were regulars at the Plantation Inn in West Memphis, a club that was a legendary home to blues, jazz, and soul musicians in the '40s, '50s, and early '60s. Gone but not forgotten, the Plantation Inn will be feted this week by The West Memphis Blues and Rhythm Society, which holds its annual gala at Southland Park Gaming and Racing Event Center Saturday, October 25th. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m., with Memphis Horn Wayne Jackson and the PI Blues Band performing at 8 p.m. At the event, the society will introduce the new Morris Awards, named after Plantation Inn founder Morris Berger, with inaugural recipients being Newborn, Willie Mitchell, Floyd Newman, the late Isaac Hayes, and the late Charles Turner. Tickets to the gala are $50 per person. For more information, call the Crittenden Arts Council office at (870) 732-6260.
Though a slightly less famous venue, Midtown's Hi-Tone Café will celebrate its 10th year of existence with a weekend full of heavyweight shows. On Friday, October 24th, French punk band Jack of Heart joins locals Jack O & the Tearjerkers (cover: $5). On Saturday, Southern metal band Torche and Boston rockers Clouds play the venue (cover: $12). Concluding the "celebration weekend" on Sunday is cult-favorite Chicago indie band Magnolia Electric Co. with locals Hi Electric (cover: $10).
And that's not all at the Hi-Tone this week. On Monday, local community station WEVL will hold a benefit concert at the club featuring Austin singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo. Tickets range from $18 to $28 depending on when you buy them (advance or at the door) and whether you want a reserved seat or want to stand.
Finally, local singer Lynn Cardona debuts a new jazz/rock band Tiger Rag at the club Thursday, October 23rd. Tiger Rag will be part of an all-local triple-bill that also will include the experimental A Funeral Walkaway Parade and bluesy rockers Mojo Possum. Cover is $5.
Midtown institution Shangri-La Records holds its annual fall record swap Sunday, October 26th, from 1 to 5 p.m. It costs $10 to set up a table to buy, sell, or trade records. Call Shangri-La at 274-1916 for more info. The record swap will also feature a performance by The Barbaras, one of the city's most interesting new(ish) bands. On the band's Goner Records debut single, they drench sunny '60s pop (think: Phil Spector, Beach Boys, doo-wop) under a thin layer of psych-punk noise. Live, they can be enjoyably theatrical. The band has a debut album on deck for California label In the Red, which previously released terrific albums from locals such as the Reigning Sound, Lost Sounds, and Jay Reatard.