It was bound to happen sooner or later. Black Oak Arkansas, possibly the most obnoxious band in the history of rock-and-roll, are playing the Buccaneer with Memphis rock monsters The Joint Chiefs. Talk about a match made in someplace other than heaven!
Black Oak Arkansas, originally called the Knowbody Else, formed in James "Jim Dandy" Mangrum's hometown of Black Oak, Arkansas, in the mid-'60s. The band had no money for equipment, and in 1966 certain members of the group were sentenced to a 26-year stint at the Tucker Prison farm for breaking into a high school and stealing the public-address system. Fortunately for the boys of Black Oak, that sentence was suspended. In 1969, they came to Memphis and recorded their first LP at Stax.
Black Oak Arkansas had an ugly Southern-rock sound. They never had the musicianship of the Allman Brothers, and they weren't as sonically clever as Skynyrd. But Jim Dandy's voice -- a croaking parody of a voice along the lines of country satirist Jon Wayne -- combined with the blond maniac's lascivious onstage antics to earn Black Oak Arkansas a devoted following. Prime example: The eternally shirtless Dandy was known to simulate sex with a washboard. "Jim Dandy (to the Rescue)" was Black Oak Arkansas' biggest hit, and "When Electricity Came to Arkansas" became their best-known song after it riled up Evangelicals who thought it contained hidden satanic messages. But "Hot and Nasty," the group's unofficial theme song, tells you everything you need to know about Black Oak Arkansas.
To the best of my knowledge, the Joint Chiefs have never been arrested. Formed in the mid-'90s, the group developed a reputation among serious stoners for blending hysterical lyrics and serious '70s metal with just enough Ween to keep things current. The group has dropped from a sextet to a trio and lost its novelty bent (without sacrificing the great lyrics), and if there was ever a band born to play with Black Oak Arkansas, it's the Joint Chiefs. Check them out at the Buccaneer on Saturday, March 5th. And bring your own hot rod.
Memphis' classical-guitar virtuoso Lily Afshar has been exploring her Persian roots, adding fretlets to her Millennium guitar so that she can play the quarter tones that are common in Middle Eastern music. Afshar will perform new work at the Buckman Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, March 8th. Word has it she might put away the guitar, break out a sitar, and go all Ravi Shankar.
-- Chris Davis
My Sound Advice partner HAS said more than I ever could about Black Oak Arkansas, but let me add that they were involved in one of the greatest sins in the history of popular music: Chuck Berry was once their opening act. I know that this actually happened because my dad was there. Imagine Prince opening for Nick Lachey or Bruce Springsteen opening for the Black Crowes. Shudder. Which doesn't mean that the above show won't be 10 kinds of fun, of course. But still.
Anyway, there's other stuff happening this week too: I always thought country rockers Cross Canadian Ragweed were a little unctuous, but they won me (and mainstream country) over last year with "Sick and Tired," a duet with the ever-splendid Lee Ann Womack. After coming off a tour with similarly successful country-rock upstart Dierks Bentley, Cross Canadian Ragweed will be headlining Newby's Friday, March 4th, with locals Halfacre Gunroom.
Best local show of the week has to be the CD-release party for Ron Franklin's new project The Natural Kicks [see Local Beat, page 35] at Young Avenue Deli Saturday, March 5th. A couple of other local shows I couldn't recommend more highly: Snowglobe, whose sophomore disc, Doing the Distance, was one of the very best local releases of 2004, back at the Hi-Tone Café Saturday, March 5th, for their first local show in a while. And hip-hoppers Tunnel Clones, whose debut, Concrete Swamp, is sure to be one of the best local releases of 2005, at the Full Moon Club Friday, March 4th.