Friday, July 20, 2018

WEVL's Blues on the Bluff: A Worthy Tradition

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2018 at 5:11 PM

click to enlarge Kenny Brown played the first Blues on the Bluff
  • Kenny Brown played the first Blues on the Bluff
It'll be an idyllic scene this Saturday, just before sunset, as mic's are checked, amps are tweaked, and kegs are chilled on the grounds of the National Ornamental Metal Museum, all in the name of WEVL FM 89.9. The venerable volunteer radio station brings the Blues on the Bluff® tradition into it's 30th year this weekend, so expect an extra bit of euphoria. 

The music alone will be effervescent, in a very North Mississippi/Memphis way. Things kick off with one man powerhouse Lightnin' Malcom, whose feet lay down a groove with kick and snare while his hands execute perfect drone and jump blues licks. On top of that, he sings with an unassuming conviction. Great stuff.

The one and only Kenny Brown then makes a rare full band appearance. Seemingly forever on the North Mississippi scene, the young Brown was immersed in a world of miraculous music, from Otha Turner to Junior Kimbrough, to his mentor, R.L. Burnside. He carries their traditions well, laying down solid, heavy grooves punctuated with mad flashes of dexterity. This will be a special show for both WEVL and Brown, as he played the original Blues on the Bluff thirty years ago. 

And as for the big finish, it will be none other than a singer that producer Boo Mitchell called “one of the most soulful artists I’ve heard since the glory days of Memphis soul music. Her sound and stage presence is a constant reminder that soul music is still alive and well.”  Marcella & Her Lovers embody the idea of deep-as-the-earth swamp soul, and they've dug especially deep into Memphis soil. In the end, Marcella Simien's voice fuels the entire proceedings, implying grooves and subtleties that the band picks up on immediately. Though dubbed soul, the covers and originals alike are impressively eclectic; always expect surprises with this gang.

Meanwhile, Memphis Made craft beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages will be sold, along with victuals from the Central BBQ Food Truck. A silent auction will be ongoing throughout the evening, with art, merchandise and gift certificates from Memphis businesses. And of course, die hard fans will want to stock up on Blues on the Bluff posters, WEVL T-shirts and other bling.

The food, drink, and Marcella & Her Lovers will leave everyone well-boogied and wondering, where now? Hopefully, the night will have helped raise a bit more coin for simply soldiering on; but the cool of the evening may also lead to a bit of reflection, a savoring of our good fortune to live with a station like WEVL FM. It offers a daily dose of the independent spirit that many cities simply don't have.

Blues on the Bluff, Saturday, July 21. Guests may bring chairs and blankets, but are asked to leave pets and outside food and drinks at home. Gates at 6:00 p.m., show time 6:30, ends at 11:00. $25 admission price ($12 for kids 11 and under) entitles guests to free guarded parking and benefits WEVL FM 89.9. Discounted advance tickets can be purchased online at www.wevl.org.

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