It's only January, but it's already shaping up to be a busy, busy year for Memphis music.
On Thursday, January 18th, the Memphis chapter of The Recording Academy kicks off its 2007 Indie Impact workshop series with a bang: an "up close and personal" interview with Big Jon Platt, one of the biggest movers and shakers in the urban-music industry today. A veteran of EMI's music publishing division, Platt serves as senior vice president of Virgin Records and as senior vice president (creative) of EMI Publishing. He also helms his own Virgin imprint, Montbello Records.
The onetime Colorado club DJ, who inked lucrative publishing deals with Usher and Jay-Z for EMI, will be appearing at The Stax Museum of American Soul Music at 7 p.m. Thursday, offering his words of wisdom to Memphis' next generation of songwriters. Admission for the event is $20 (NARAS members get in free), but as anyone who's attended the last few Indie Impact workshops can attest, the information offered is priceless. For more information, call 525-1340.
The 50th anniversary of Stax Records is already picking up steam: Last month, the Recording Academy announced that Booker T & the MGs and the late Estelle Axton, co-founder of the label, are recipients of a 2007 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a 2007 Grammy Trustee Award, respectively. Concord Music Group, which will relaunch Stax this year, just announced that Isaac Hayes has signed with the label. They've also staked out a slot for an all-Stax showcase at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, in March.
Roots-music fans have plenty of live concerts to choose from this month, ranging from a pair of Memphis Acoustic Music Association concerts slated for Otherlands Coffee Bar to the opening night of the Coffee House Concert Series, held at the Church of the Holy Communion in East Memphis.
Local fave Keith Sykes willMAMAMusic.org. And on Sunday, January 28th, the Coffee House Concert Series kicks off its third season with a return performance by Lucy Kaplansky. Blair Combest, making his Coffee House debut, opens the show, which begins at 7 p.m. For more info, go to CoffeeHouseConcerts.org.
Meanwhile, onetime Sykes protégé John Kilzer is playing MO's Memphis Originals, at 3521 Walker, every Tuesday this month. Kilzer, who played forward for the University of Memphis basketball team during the late '70s, recently contributed a cut, "Further Along," to Eye of a Tiger: A Tribute to Larry Finch. At MO's, Kilzer gets the party started by 9 p.m.; admission is just $3. For details, visit www.MemphisOriginals.com.
Preacher's Kids frontman Tyler Keith is laying down his electric guitar -- temporarily, at least -- to do a series of one-man acoustic shows in Memphis, which he kicked off at Murphy's on Wednesday, January 17th. Performing as "Kid Twist," the Oxford, Mississippi, rocker plays again on Wednesday, January 24th. "It's not like getting up there and telling stories or like playing in a one-man band," Keith says. "It'll hopefully be an acoustic show that rocks."
The 23rd International Blues Challenge (IBC), presented by The Blues Foundation, is scheduled for the first weekend in February. More than merely "the world's largest gathering of blues bands," the IBC also affords 21st-century bluesmen opportunities to attend panel discussions, participate in workshops, and network with managers, booking agents, and talent scouts, before getting down to the musical nitty-gritty for Saturday night's IBC finals on Beale Street. For ticket information and a complete schedule, visit www.Blues.org.
It's bookended by the 2007 International Folk Alliance Conference, which will be held at the Cook Convention Center the last weekend in February. Native American activist/performer Buffy Sainte-Marie and U.S. congressman John Hall, better known as the bare-chested former frontman for the group Orleans, will be keynote speakers at the conference. For more information, go to FolkAlliance.org.