This week, local record label Ardent Music rolls out its second full-blown release since its recent resuscitation (following last year's Brooklyn Hustle, Memphis Muscle from Jump Back Jake) with the eponymous debut by local folk/pop outfit Star & Micey.
The band — guitarist and lead vocalist Josh Cosby, bassist Geoff Smith, and lead guitarist Nick Redmond — will celebrate the release this Saturday night (October 17th) with a carnival-like production planned to include an elaborate stage set-up, a midway of sorts (ring toss, shooting gallery, and other games), and a host of guest musicians at Neil's Bar & Grill, a key location in the band's history.
Redmond, also a singer/songwriter and producer at Ardent Studios, and Cosby connected there about two years ago, at a time when Star and Micey (initially a duo of Cosby and Smith) were on a hiatus due to Smith's commitments to the power-pop band Chess Club. But the way they tell it, the connection almost didn't happen.
"I think we pre-judged each other harshly, from a distance," Cosby says.
Redmond goes into greater detail:
"I was playing the Wednesday-night 'Bar Stars' show at Neil's, and every week, we'd get one weird character that comes in, acts crazy, and then vanishes into the night, never to be seen again. So I see [Josh] sitting at a table, and he's by himself, wearing these odd goggle-glasses and stretching his arms in the air bizarrely. So I think he's the crazy guy for that week. But when he got up to play, I started to get it," Redmond says.
After a few more chance meetings, the two began to bond fiercely, hanging out and recording songs in Redmond's house. With time, Smith returned to the fold as Chess Club went into its own hiatus, and the idea of taking Star and Micey into Ardent with Redmond was starting to get kicked around. After another series of demo recordings, Redmond convinced the Ardent brass to let the band record a fully produced three-song demo, which became the first of 10 songs cut for their debut album.
"We took a lot of time with those three songs, and not only did Ardent like it, but they decided to sign us," Cosby says. "It's an honor for us to work with them."
"They're a great band, musically, and so far we're very impressed with their work ethic," Ardent Music's Joseph Davis says.
The album, which features a slew of well-known guest players from Luther Dickinson to Paul Taylor to Cosby's "secret hero," Dave Cousar, will officially hit stores October 20th but is already available for purchase online at StarandMicey.com.
Meanwhile, Jason Paxton — a "retired" Memphis musician best known for his time with the bands Delorean, The Satyrs, and The Bloodthirsty Lovers — will make a long-awaited return to the local scene this week as well. Paxton and his new instrumental group, Glorie, will make their debut Saturday, October 17th, at the Buccaneer Lounge, opening for Noise Choir.
Paxton has more or less been away since 2002, when he quit the Bloodthirsty Lovers ("I was actually thrown out of my last show," he says) and music in general to focus on school and developing a career.
"To be honest, I just got burned out and wasn't having fun anymore," Paxton says. "I felt very fake acting like I was having fun all the time when I wasn't. Creatively and emotionally, I had just hit a wall."
But around a year ago, Paxton began writing music again and feeling the itch to put together a group, which would come to include cellist/multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Kirkscey, Snowglobe's Jeff Hulett on bass, and his ex-Delorean bandmates, Andy Saunders on drums and guitarist Rob Brimhall. (Paxton himself primarily plays vibraphone and keyboards in the band.)
Musically, Glorie is a very psychedelic and textural, with layers of melody and sound building and bouncing off of one another in a way that ends up epic and exciting. But, as Paxton stresses, don't go in expecting to hear any vocals.
"Honestly, I just don't feel like singing," he says. "I have the passion for it musically and emotionally, just not lyrically. I don't think I have enough to say, and right now I feel I have to be honest about who I am making music. I think we make up for not having vocals by incorporating strong, memorable melodies, which is something a lot of instrumental rock bands don't do."
For more information on Glorie, visit MySpace.com/Glorierock.