Friday, September 7, 2018

Listen Up: Wine Witch

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 6:03 PM

Wes Brown and David Shull of Wine Witch - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Wes Brown and David Shull of Wine Witch

David Shull got serious about guitar after someone heard him play and said, “David sucks.”

He was in the eighth grade at the time.

“I swear to God that has been a driving force,” says Shull. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to suck.’”

About the same time he was told he sucks at guitar, Shull discovered Wolfmother. “Everything I’d been listening to before that just seemed really contrived. I had never heard anything like that. It was kind of Led Zeppelin-y. It was like old school rock, but with this new feel and this power behind it. You know. Just driving. You want to bang your head to it.”

Shull, 26, now is guitar/vocalist with drummer Wes Brown, 21, in Wine Witch.

Brown says he was “always that annoying kid that wanted to play music.”

He chose drums as his instrument. “I had that energy and those rhythms in my head.”

Slipknot, Rage Against the Machine, and System of a Down were among Brown’s favorite bands.

He dated Shull’s sister for a time, but he didn’t know Shull. “The first time I met him I was scared,” he says. “She warned me. She said, ‘He might have to feel you out a little but don’t worry if he’s a dick.’”

“I kind of was known for being a fucking protective brother,” Shull says.

Brown was nervous when he knew he had to meet Shull one night at LBOE. “I knew I was going to have to come meet my new girlfriend’s scary older brother who I’d heard all the horror stories about. Like if I say one wrong thing I might get a quick uppercut to the jaw.”

So, Brown just “played it cool.”

“We were cool,” Shull says.

Brown was surprised when Shull called him to jam after he stopped dating his sister. “I thought I did so horrible because I hadn’t really been playing as much as I needed to and I hadn’t been playing with other people,” Brown says. “I had like half of my drum kit and I was just trying to make something happen. I didn’t think it went well at all. I thought, ‘He’s never going to hit me up again. I blew it.’”

“I knew he was good,” Shull says.

Shull was in another band when he approached Brown about starting another project. “I was like, ‘Yo, man. Why don’t we do something on the side? I’ve got all this music that we’re not going to use and I want to play it. It can be a little heavier. Something’s that going to be just fucking fun to do.’”

Brown liked Shull’s music. “Just the driving force of it,” he says. “I’m always more into hard hitting, rhythmic stuff. I like melodies that are good. He can write a really damn catchy melody and hook. He just writes good songs. I’ve known people who could listen to a Jimi Hendrix song or just an insanely difficult song to play and and play it note for note. But they can’t write their own music. He’s always writing. Always coming up with stuff. Just stuff that is genuinely catchy. My parents like it. That’s catchy.”

“My biggest influences are like Queens of the Stone Age and all of Josh Homme’s projects,” Shull says. “Because he falls in this place where it’s driving. It’s heavy. It’s not your regular rock. It’s something between metal and rock. Something that falls and sinks.”

Shull and Brown played their first show as “Amberlamps.”

Shull wasn’t a fan of that name. “I thought it was too memey,” he says.

“The first thing you learn about a two piece band is there’s a lot of empty space,” Shull says. “And every mistake you make is amplified a thousand fold because there’s only two dudes to look at. So, if you fuck up, they’re going to know it.”

Their first show together also was the first show Brown ever played. “Ever played ever,” he says. ‘So, I had the first show jitters bad.”

Shull came up with the idea of the two of them covering their faces that night to conceal their identities. “I was like, ‘It’ll be cool, man. I’ll wear this bandana on my face.”

He wanted Brown to wear a ski mask. “I was like, ‘Get a ski mask, dude. Wear a ski mask. It’ll be cool, man.’”

Brown brought a ski mask, but it wasn't what Shull wanted. “It had this little bill on it. And I was like, ‘That doesn’t look intimidating! 

It looks like you got back from the mountains."

He thought it looked like Brown had been snow skiing. "

I was going for more like robbing a bank kind of vibe. We missed the mark on that, really.”


Shull ended up discarding his bandanna. “He - like halfway through the first song - got too hot and just ripped that shit off his face anyway,” Brown says.

“I couldn’t breath behind it,” Shull says.

“You couldn’t sing,” Brown says.

And their music? “Everyone said it was alright,” Shull says. “A big struggle for us has been gear. I’ve borrowed amps. I’ve used shitty amps. I’ve had amps go out on me. I just got a new bass amp."

“Well, after that first show I pretty much was like, ‘I don’t like the name ‘Amberlamps.’ Fuck that,’” Brown says.

As Wine Witch, they began opening up for a lot of bands passing through town on the way to perform at South by Southwest. “They’re looking on Facebook like, ‘Who can play these last minute shows,’” Shull says. “So, I just started jumping on them. I think we played three in a week that month.”

“And we learned a lot at every show,” Brown says.

They’ve been developing a following. A boost was when a couple from Richmond, Va., passed through Memphis on their honeymoon. They Googled to find out what bands were playing that night, found Wine Witch, and listened to one of its videos on YouTube.

“We didn’t even know there was a video on YouTube,” Shull says.

“They came to see us and they were so stoked on it,” Brown says. “Just to know that those two people were so stoked on it.”

“It’s been little things like that,’ Shull says.

Wine Witch, which plays about three shows a month, recently played its first out-of-town show at Santos in New Orleans. They’d like to play out of town shows at least once a month.

They’ve also thought about adding a third member to the band. “I’d be able to do more on the guitar,” Shull says. “Instead of being the driving melody with guitar I could actually do a little bit more filling in. Lead stuff. And see how it goes.”

“We toyed with the idea of maybe doing a revolving door thing and jamming with one person one week on keys and background vocals and playing a show with them,” Brown says.

There is one advantage to being a two-person band, Shull said. The money. “You only have to split it with between two people. Fifty bucks between four guys is like, ‘Oh, cool. Gas money.’ But with two guys it’s like, ‘Hey, now. We’re going out tonight.’”

Wine Witch will play with Pink Suede and Geist at 8 p.m. Sept. 8 at 1884 Lounge at Minglewood Hall at 1555 Madison Avenue. Admission: $10.

Wine Witch also will play with Regulus and Late Night Cardigan at 8 p.m. Sept. 10 at Sounds Good Memphis, 831 Cooper. Admission: $6.

Wes Brown and David Shull of Wine Witch - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Wes Brown and David Shull of Wine Witch

September Brings Cool Outdoor Music Galore

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 2:12 PM

nightlife_levittshell_p3a8415.jpg
On good nights, the cool air of autumn is already whistling in. And other tones are floating in the air as well, with the fall outdoor concert season, already underway, really hitting its stride this weekend. Not only do we still have the Delta Fair & Music Festival, this weekend will see the launch of the fall season's River Series at the Harbor Town Amphitheater and the Levitt Shell Orion Free Music Concert Series.

Of course, it all pales before tonight and tomorrow's International Goat Days in Millington. There will be a classic "battle of the bands" and other live music, along with other family fair fun...plus goats! Meanwhile, if you really want to see dancing in the streets, check out the Orange Mound Parade, this Saturday morning at 8:00, where marching bands give it their all  from Melrose High School to the Lamar-Airways Shopping Center. It's the grandest preamble that the Southern Heritage Classic could hope for. 
Memphis Pride Fest
  • Memphis Pride Fest
Other fairs and parades ensue through the month, culminating in the 15th Annual Memphis Pride Fest, sure to bring a host of bands out to Tom Lee Park. For even more music with that street carnival flair, check out the diverse lineup of the Mid South Fair, September 20-30, now held at Landers Center in Southaven.
Los Kumbia Brothers
  • Los Kumbia Brothers
This year's fair boasts a special celebration of Latino music, presented by Radio Ambiente, with six bands playing from noon til 10:00. And let's not forget Memphis legends 8 Ball and MJG. That show, like most others, comes free with your fair admission.  

Meta and the Cornerstones
  • Meta and the Cornerstones
Meanwhile, back to the present, the weekend is exploding with sit-down outdoor shows. Not long ago, we gave you a rundown of the full fall lineup at the queen of outdoor venues, the Levitt Shell. If you missed last night's Devon Gilfillian, there's still time to plan on this weekend's especially international sounds, with Havana's Orquesta Akokán tonight and the Afro-pop/reggae/soul blend of Meta and the Cornerstones tomorrow. Reba Russell closes down the weekend on Sunday.

Earlier that day, there's even more music, including a special pop-up sunset jazz event at Court Square with the Bill Hurd Jazz Ensemble. Meanwhile, the River Series at the Harbor Town Amphitheater, aside from being smartly curated, also boasts one of the most beautiful vistas of any outdoor music experience. Perched on the steps of an amphitheater in the style of Ancient Greece, you gaze on shores of the city and the hyper-reality of our gigantic metallic pyramid.

Harlan T. Bobo
  • Harlan T. Bobo
Both of the artists jump-starting the River Series season on Sunday, Harlan T. Bobo and Paul Taylor, evoke the city very specifically in their music. Bobo, who recently captivated an audience at the Memphis Music Mansion, might even sing his instant classic, "Must Be in Memphis," as the city floats out in the night; and Taylor may treat audiences to his new, and very groovy, Old Forest Loop music. The River series then continues with Cameron Bethany & Kid Maestro on September 23, and Teardrop City and the Limes on October 14.

Elsewhere around the city, the Live at the Garden series continues tonight, with the big, rich tones of Big & Rich echoing through the sublime environs of the Memphis Botanic Garden. Although that show will mark the end of the summer series, look for CMT Music Award winners Dan + Shay with special guest Michael Ray at the end of the month.

Of course, Midtowners are already readying for next weekend's Cooper-Young Festival, and the event's three stages will feature some choice performers. Highlights on the main stage include FreeWorld with the legendary Dr. Herman Green, followed by Fuzzie Jefferies. The other stages are great ways to check out the many and diverse sounds coming out of Memphis these days, from Laramie to the Switchblade Kid to the current
kings of Memphis hardcore, Negro Terror.
Negro Terror at Our Scene United - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Negro Terror at Our Scene United

And finally, we can't forget Gonerfest 15. While much of the music will happen in clubs around town, the festival does offer some choice opportunities for open air listening. Indeed, it's bookended with performances at the Cooper-Young Gazebo, with D.M. Bob on Thursday, Sept. 27, and R.L. Boyce on Sunday, September 30. And, as usual, both the Murphy's Bar interior and patio will be hopping with far out sounds all afternoon on September 29, culminating with a show by Robyn Hitchcock.
Robyn Hitchcock - LAURA E. PARTAIN
  • Laura E. Partain
  • Robyn Hitchcock

Fast on the heels of Gonerfest, of course, we'll wake up and it'll be October. Check the Flyer that week for a special report on the Mempho Music Festival, which will play host to the likes of Beck, Post Malone, Phoenix, Nas, and Janelle Monáe. But heck, that's a whole month away. For now, dust off your camping chairs, pack your coolers, break out the bug spray, and get ready. The nights grow cool and the musical creatures are coming out to play.
 

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