It was about a year ago when the awful thing happened: I was driving somewhere between Memphis and Nashville and listening to an oldies station. Gordon Lightfoot had just finished singing "Sundown" and I was fully expecting to hear a Neil Diamond tune like "Cracklin' Rosie" or maybe that "Sheila" song by Tommy Roe. But no. They played "Blister in the Sun" by the Violent Femmes. Let me repeat that: They played "Blister in the Sun" on an oldies station right after Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown." I almost ran off the road. Oh sure, it was recorded 21 years ago. The eponymous album it was on has gone platinum (though it never cracked the Billboard Top 200). But it can't be on an oldies station because it still sounds like modern rock. Twenty-one years after the fact, it still sounds new. Go find out just how new it sounds when the Femmes play Mud Island Amphitheater as headliners of the Memphis Jam concert Saturday, July 5th. Memphis' own blues rockers The Porch Ghouls will be on hand as well. Can you hope to get more show for three bucks? I doubt it.
The Ultracats bring together Lori Gienapp, the big-voiced former drummer for the Porch Ghouls and Lost Sounds, and diva Alicja Trout for some hot chick-garage-rock. They will be beautifying a triple bill that includes Jay Reatard's occasionally shocking Final Solutions and The High School Hellcats at Murphy's on Saturday, July 5th.
And for all you neo-hillbillies out there, here comes the guy who put the "alt" in alt-country, and no, I don't mean Steve Earle. Jason Ringenberg of Jason & the Scorchers fame learned his chops playing rockabilly in the Nashville punk scene in the '80s. But what started out as rockabilly quickly shifted and became a more contemporary blend of hard rock and hardcore honky-tonk. Ringenberg's solo material also splits the difference between classic country and classic rock, with a slight emphasis on the rock. He'll be at the Hi-Tone CafÇ on Sunday, July 6th. -- Chris Davis
Wow, with the Violent Femmes, the Jayhawks, Matthew Sweet (playing in the Thorns), and Jason Ringenberg all in town, is this Gen-X nostalgia week or what? And speaking of musical questions to ponder, what's up with Three 6 Mafia and subcultural fads? Has any artist this side of "Weird Al" Yankovic so aggressively pursued novelty hits? Too bad our local hip-hop heroes have just as mixed a batting average: First there was an ode to syrup sipping (probably their best single), then came tongue rings (bad -- very, very bad), then the two-way pager (nice use of sound effect as hook), and now fancy hubcaps, or "spinners" I guess (not as stupid as the tongue-ring song, but still pretty lame). Oh well, I say anything that keeps them from rapping about sex is a good thing.
Regardless, you can bet that the Triple-6's record-release party for their new disc Da Unbreakables (hip-hop slang is a beautiful thing, but the bad spelling has got to go), Friday, July 4th, at the New Daisy Theatre, will be the wildest show of the week. -- Chris Herrington