Thursday, October 26, 2017

Hell on Earth: A Memphis Tradition Returns

Posted By on Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 4:36 PM

click to enlarge Misti Lombardi
  • Misti Lombardi

My memories of Hell on Earth, Misty White’s Halloween institution, are hazy, yet visceral: Observing Tav Falco as he morphed into a deadpan caricature of Charlie Chaplin while leading the Panther Burns through a chugging interpretation of an old rockabilly hit; standing, enchanted, as I watched Neighborhood Texture Jam perform surgery on a sex doll stuffed full of dog food; gazing at Bob X’s perfectly wrought florescent posters while Jim Duckworth’s guitar cacophony wailed in the background.

For me, the pinnacle of Hell on Earth was the early 1990s, when it was de rigueur to drop a tab of LSD or gorge on pot brownies as the circus went on around me. Hell on Earth typically drew together the best—and worst—of Memphis music, with stellar homegrown talents like Alex Chilton and Luther Dickinson sharing the stage with one-off groups that disbanded as quickly as they formed. Plywood Doghouse, anyone?

From her home in Toulouse, France, White—now known as Misti Lombardi—says that her favorite Hell on Earth moment was that Neighborhood Texture Jam performance, dubbed “Unnecessary Surgery.”

Other favorite memories include “wiping entrails on the leg of Steve Selvidge’s velvet bell bottoms while he was playing!” says Lombardi, herself a veteran of iconic Memphis bands the Hellcats, Alluring Strange, and the Zippin Pippins. “[And] when Al Kapone played, all the Admiral Fishdart appearances… Hell on Earth 4, when Reverend Horton Heat played, and he wore my halo later.”

This week, Lombardi is returning to her adopted home of Memphis—she was raised in Arkansas and moved here with her twin, Kristy White, when they were teenagers—to reprise Hell on Earth at Bar DKDC on Sunday night.

She’s been in Toulouse for several years, after meeting and marrying Philippe Lombardi, a French musician and producer who passed away unexpectedly in 2016.

At Hell on Earth, Lombardi will perform with her old Hellcats bandmates Lorette Velvette and Su Hartline, Panther Burns drummer Ross Johnson, Velvette’s husband and Memphis Flyer music editor Alex Greene, Jonny Ciaramitaro, and another one-time Memphian now residing in France, Harlan T. Bobo.

Lombardi’s been working with Bobo in Toulouse at a recording studio called Swampland, where they’re putting the finishing touches on Worth the Wait, an album Lombardi started recording with her late husband three years ago. The album, engineered by Lo Spider, is expected for release at Christmas on her new label, Misty White Music.

Hell on Earth takes place at Bar DKDC at 964 S. Cooper this Sunday, October 29, from 10 pm to 1 am.

Mike McCarthy's film, Destroy Memphis, featuring extensive footage of the Zippin Pippins, will screen tonight at Malco's Studio on the Square, 7:00 pm. Misti Lombardi will perform before the film.)

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