Saturday, June 16, 2018

Harbert Ave. Porch Show Rides Again, With a New Label in the Making

Posted By on Sat, Jun 16, 2018 at 9:05 AM

click to enlarge Robert Jethro Wyatt and Moke O'Connor introduce Jack O & the Tennessee Tearjerkers, Sept 2012.
  • Robert Jethro Wyatt and Moke O'Connor introduce Jack O & the Tennessee Tearjerkers, Sept 2012.
If this city has music coming out its ears, with pop-up shows, festivals, house shows, buskers, and impromptu jam sessions springing up in every corner, none of these is quite as Memphis as the Harbert Avenue Porch Show. Held at least once a year in the normally staid environs of Central Gardens, the porch show has become a tradition that brings together generations and neighbors from all walks of life.

click to enlarge Fans throng to see Snowglobe in 2017
  • Fans throng to see Snowglobe in 2017
The brainchild of Robert Jethro Wyatt, the porch show is a perfect expression of its host's love of music. Indeed, one might not expect such levels of fandom from a Professor of Pediatrics at University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, such a love of garage rock from a Pediatric Nephrologist at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. But Memphis is a city of iconoclasts and mold-breakers. A regular at many of the area's hardest-rocking shows, Wyatt has given back to the rock 'n' roll community every year since 2012, on his very doorstep.

click to enlarge Jack Oblivian at the inaugural Harbert Avenue Porch Show.
  • Jack Oblivian at the inaugural Harbert Avenue Porch Show.
This year's show marks the return of Jack Oblivian, who played the inaugural performance six years ago. Keth Cooper, Frank McLallen, Graham Winchester, and Seth Moody, aka the Sheiks, continue to serve as his dream band.

When the tradition started, as Wyatt notes, "the event was attended by over 100 neighbors and friends. Since then we have held at least one porch show a year featuring musicians and bands from our region. Over 250 folks of all ages attended the 2017 Snowglobe show."

Some  were documented and simulcast by the short-lived Rocket Science Audio project, taking the porch show to international audiences through the magic of the internet. 

This year also finds Wyatt on the cusp of an even deeper commitment to local rock, as he lays the groundwork for a new record label. "Black and Wyatt Records is me, Dennis Black and Mike McCarthy. Dennis is the Research Director at Le Bonheur - but he goes back to working at a radio station in Millington when he was younger - and keeps motel rooms booked in Tullahoma for Bonnaroo every year. One Monday about 10 years ago Dennis and I flew to San Francisco to see the New Pornographers at the Warfield." Mike McCarthy, of course, is the punk film auteur, community activist, sculptor, comic artist, and underground film auteur behind Guerrillamonster, the catch-all enterprise for his many ventures. He and Ronnie Harris have designed the T-shirts for this year's show, and he'll be involved in curating the Black & Wyatt roster. The trio are brimming with enthusiasm for their new venture, although, as Wyatt says, "I'm just not ready to give out hundreds of handbills this soon."

The Harbert Avenue Porch Show featuring Jack Oblivian is free; a donation to the band of $5 to $10 is suggested. Free beer and food in the driveway (while it lasts) including beer Memphis Made Brewing. The music starts at 6:00 PM. Eat at Eric's Food Truck will be on the street.
Sponsors - Memphis Made Brewing, Memphis Sports Academy, Goner Records, Utopia Animal Hospital and Dennis Black.

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