When St. Louis' longtime alt-country stalwarts The Bottle Rockets play Young Avenue Deli this week, it'll be a return engagement of sorts: The band recorded its current album, Zoysia, at Ardent Studios last November with local producer Jeff Powell.
For Powell it was a collaboration a long time in the making.
"I first saw them at Barristers about 10 years ago," Powell says. "We had a mutual friend, and she told me, 'You better get your butt down here and see them.' And ever since that night, I've really wanted to make a record with them."
In the interim, Powell and the band have come to share a management company -- Undertow Management -- which helped bring the two together. And on a tour last year, the band stopped in Memphis and visited Ardent with Powell. Later he took them to eat at Central Bar-B-Q and sealed the deal.
Recorded in about 10 days, Zoysia is probably the band's best album since mid-'90s highlights The Brooklyn Side and 24 Hours a Day.
"I'd always heard their sound as a little tougher than what I heard on the record," Powell says. "When we got into the studio, [lead singer] Brian [Henneman] had a copy of Tonight's the Night by Neil Young, and when we started the session, he held it up and said, 'Whenever we get to a place where we're stumbling and not sure what to do, just think: What would these guys do?'"
Powell's wife, singer Susan Marshall, guests on the album and will likely reprise her role on stage.
Local performer Ron Franklin will be opening for the Bottle Rockets with a new lineup for his rotating band Ron Franklin Entertainers: former Reigning Sound rhythm section Greg Roberson (drums) and Jeremy Scott (bass) along with Tearjerkers keyboardist Adam Woodard.
"The Entertainers started with me and [drummer] Ross [Johnson], and whether or not Ross was in it at the moment, the Entertainers always had some kind of link to the way Ross and I would play together, with a lot of hill-country and Bo Diddley rhythms."
But the new lineup -- which was born out of aborted rehearsals to back up Love singer Arthur Lee on a potential tour -- is something Franklin sees as a more settled band, with plans to go into Royal Studio to work on a possible album. Franklin also has a solo album -- Blue Shadows Falling -- in the works.
The Bottle Rockets and the Ron Franklin Entertainers play Young Avenue Deli Friday, June 30th. The doors open at 9 p.m. with a cover of $10.
Midtown rock club the Hi-Tone Café takes a break from music this week to indulge a different Memphis cultural legacy: wrestling.
Cable access show Deep South Wrestling will screen episodes from its upcoming season at the club Monday, July 3rd.
According to promoter Chris Walker -- a relative latecomer to the DSW (no, not Designer Shoe Warehouse) crew -- it started in 1996 as a drunken pastime among a group of hardcore wrestling fans, with the actual wrestling taking place in a spare bedroom with a mattress as a ring. Ten years later, home movies taken for private amusement have morphed into a weekly program that both spoofs and pays homage to the glory days of professional grappling -- replete with colorful characters and ongoing storylines.
"That's the only thing we have, since we can't wrestle," Walker says of the ripped-from-the-vaults-of-classic-Memphis-wrestling storylines. "It's really just a forum to show us talking crap and wearing crazy costumes. We don't have a ring and nobody's in shape, so all we have is storylines and crazy characters."
Featuring characters such as rock-and-roll "babyface" Chip Thunders, hated "heel" Diamond Dulius, and onetime "jobber" turned fan favorite The Memphis Creep, Deep South Wrestling airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on Time Warner Cable's channel 17. Season five debuts July 13th, but you can get a sneak preview at the Hi-Tone Monday, July 3rd, where DSW characters will be on hand to introduce each episode. The screenings start at 8 p.m. and admission is free. For more info, seeMySpace.com/DeepSouthWrestling.