Johnny Dowd is a frustrating artist. He rants about his lifetime devotion to rock-and-roll. He calls it his religion. But if that's the case, he's a heretic. He's really a country songwriter -- and a skilled one at that. At times, he even seems more like a playwright who lacks the focus to create a piece more than three minutes long. His songs, especially those concerning family matters, go far beyond the easy transgressions of Jim Morrison's "Father? Yes, son? I want to kill you" and sock you right in the gut like a monologue from Sam Shepard's Lie of the Mind. It's heroin-country, ominous and lurking. Imagine Billy Joe Shaver on way too many Quaaludes trying to write a tune for Nick Cave on a synthesizer and you'll get the idea. So if you are into songs that make you want to slit your wrists, Dowd is playing the Hi-Tone Café with Cory Branan on Wednesday, March 14th. Black Dog recording artists the Bigger Lovers, who sound like a less drug-addled answer to the Flaming Lips, will also be at the Hi-Tone on Sunday, March 11th, with local soundscapers Delorean. Though lacking the surreal imagery that made the Lips' rep, the Lovers have put the rock back into retro '60s psychedelia.
Chiseler chick Misty White, the driving force behind Memphis' most rockin' Halloween party, Hell on Earth, is throwing a weekly shindig at Earnestine and Hazel's. Get on down to that former brothel on Sundays and enjoy a variety of fine Memphis musicians. Last, and best of all, the godfather of Memphis punk, Jeffrey Evans, whose bands the Gibson Brothers and '68 Comeback are so universally influential that people in France have his Cadillac tattooed on their backs, will be playing on the porch at Shangri-La Records at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 11th. Evans is supporting his new Sympathy for the Record Industry release I've Lived A Rich Life. The new record is a raw answer to VH-1's storytellers series, and Evans is one helluva fine entertainer. Don't even think about missing this one. -- Chris Davis