A onetime habitué of the Memphis bohemian folk and coffeehouse scene that helped spawn Jim Dickinson and Sid Selvidge, among other local-music fixtures, Bob Frank put out one album in 1972 for the folk label Vanguard then promptly disappeared from the music scene. Relocated to Oakland, California, Frank's lone foray into recorded music became something of a cult item, and now, he's back. Frank's new album, Keep On Burning, was recorded at Dickinson's Zebra Ranch Studio, with Dickinson producing and a who's who of area talent -- including North Mississippi Allstars Luther and Cody Dickinson, ex-Riverbluff Clan members Tommy Burroughs and Jimmy Davis, and scene cohorts Selvidge and Jimmy Crosthwait -- lending support.
The album is a gentle, irreverent, and wide-ranging collection of "folk music" -- a Civil War ballad, a trucker song, outlaw songs, and idiosyncratic gospel, with echoes of ragtime, Dixieland, and jug-band music -- and fits comfortably in the tradition of boho folk and outsider country that encompasses locals in the Mudboy & the Neutrons sphere of influence, East Coasters like the Fugs and the Holy Modal Rounders, and West Texas cowboy poets like Terry Allen and the Flatlanders.
Frank will play four shows this weekend as part of a homecoming trip. He'll do an in-store at Shangri-La Records at 5 p.m. Friday, October 4th, and play later that night (9 p.m.) at Earnestine and Hazel's. On Saturday, October 5th, at 7 p.m., Frank will play the Blues City Café. And Sunday, October 6th, he'll play the afternoon slot at Huey's Midtown.
Another homecoming of sorts this week is that of local songsmith Cory Branan, who returns from a residency in Los Angeles for his first local appearance since baring his chest for Rolling Stone as the issue's "hot singer-songwriter." With the national release of his debut album, The Hell You Say, set for later this month, Branan gets reacquainted with local audiences by opening for Texas troubadour Robert Earl Keen at the New Daisy Theatre Friday, October 4th.
Or for something completely different, hip-hop fans can head to Denim & Diamonds Saturday, October 5th, for a hip-hop package show featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, 8Ball & MJG, Lil' John & The East Side Boyz, Lady May, and Now City. For a slightly different breed of hip hop on the same night, the Young Avenue Deli will feature St. Louis' Core Project and locals Speak When Spoken To. -- Chris Herrington