Friday, March 30, 2012

The Warm Up: The Black Cadillacs - "Classic Fool"

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Knoxville band the Black Cadillacs played the Young Avenue Deli last night. Before their gig, they stopped by Ardent Studios to perform their song "Classic Fool," off their upcoming album Run:

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Brad Paisley/Drake Concert Tickets On Sale Today

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 9:08 AM

Drake at FedExForum, June 5th.
  • Drake at FedExForum, June 5th.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. this morning to arguably the two biggest summer concerts announced so far.

Memphis-connected hip-hop heartthrob Drake, whose Too Far Gone was one of the genre's biggest records last year, headlines FedExForum on Tuesday, June 5th as part of his “The Club Paradise Tour.” Drake will be bringing along of an impressive warm-up crew of emerging rap stars: J.Cole, Waka Flocka Flame, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, and French Montana. (The last name on the list joined Memphian Don Trip on rap magazine XXL's recent “Freshman Class” list of 10 breakout rappers for 2012.)
Prices range from $42.75 to $93.75 and are availabe at the FedExForum box office, by phone at 800-745-3000, or via Ticketmaster.

Brad Paisley — easily one of modern country's major artists, on record and on stage — plays the Snowden Grove Amphitheater on Friday, August 17th as part of his “Virtual Reality World Tour.” Paisley will be joined by breakout — and crossover — stars The Band Perry and up-and-comer Easton Corbin.

Prices range from $45 to $69.50 and are available at the Snowden Grove box office, by phone at 800-745-3000, or via Ticketmaster.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Local Filmmakers Kentucker Audley and Brian Pera Take to the Web Tonight

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Veteran actress Grace Zabriskie will co-star in Memphis filmmaker Brian Peras Only Child
  • Veteran actress Grace Zabriskie will co-star in Memphis filmmaker Brian Pera's Only Child
Memphis filmmakers Brian Pera and Kentucker Audley will both do live web events tonight as a means of kicking new projects or products.

Pera landed a notable cult actress, Ann Magnuson, for his last film, the under-recognized Woman's Picture. And he's done it again for his next feature project, casting the terrific veteran character actress Grace Zibriskie for Only Child.

Zibriskie, now 70, might be best known for recurring roles in the television series Seinfeld, Big Love, and Twin Peaks (where she played murder victim Laura Palmer's mother), but she has also appeared in films ranging from Norma Rae (her debut) to indie classics from Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho) and Twin Peaks' David Lynch (Wild at Heart).

For Pera, Zibriskie will be playing the mother of Amy LaVere's wounded, mysterious Loretta, a character spun off from Woman's Picture. But Only Child isn't so much a sequel to Woman's Picture as a continuation of a series Pera has vowed to explore in both feature and short films.

To raise funds for the project, Pera set up a Kickstarter campaign where those offering donations can get items related to the film or the local arts scene. The campaign, already at its goal, concludes today with a live video podcast interview with Zabriskie and LaVere, at 6 p.m.

Here's a promotional video Pera shot for the project:

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Post-SXSW Videos from Don Trip and Skewby

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Memphis rappers Don Trip and Skewby follow successful visits to SXSW with new, related videos.

I'd written about Trip's BET-sponsored showcase performance, where he was introduced by iconic producer Timbaland, but wasn't able to make it to that particular performance. The video evidence reveals that Timbaland's hyping-up of Trip was even more substantial than I'd heard [some NSFW language here]:

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The Warm-Up: Water Liars - "$100"

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 9:35 AM

St. Louis/Oxford indie duo Water Liars played Otherlands Coffee Bar last week as part of the Fareveller Music Festival. Before their gig, they stopped by Ardent Studios to perform their song "$100":

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sound Advice: Hive Dwellers, Nots, and Michael Peery at Otherlands

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 1:15 PM

K Records founder and indie-rock icon Calvin Johnson hits Memphis this week with his new band, Hive Dwellers, performing at Otherlands Coffee Bar.

Calvin Johnson is a guitarist, songwriter, and producer from Seattle and the founder of influential indie label, K Records. At the age of 15 he began volunteering at KAOS-FM, nearby Olympia's community radio station. The station’s unique programming policy mandated playing music from independent and artist-owned labels rather than more corporate media, and the do-it-yourself ethos was a great influence on Johnson's notably whimsical career.

He established K Records 1982 and formed the band Beat Happening the same year, early leaders in the indie rock and lo-fi movements.

Johnson moved on to create the Go Team, a project based around the core duo of Johnson and punk-rock feminist Tobi Vail (later of Bikini Kill and Kill Rock Stars), with a rotating cast of collaborators that included Kurt Cobain, Billy Karren, and Donna Dresch. He then started Dub Narcotic Sound System — named after his accomplished analog recording studio — with another collective that included Larry Butler, Todd Ranslow, and Brian Weber (members of hip-hop group Dead Presidents). Johnson has also previously worked with Modest Mouse, Beck, Heavenly, Jens Lekman, and the Gossip, among many others.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

The Warm-Up: Maps & Atlases — "Winter"

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 9:26 AM

Chicago indie-rockers Maps & Atlases played the Young Avenue Deli last week as part of the Fareveller Music Festival. Before their gig, they stopped by Ardent Studios to perform their song "Winter":

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Friday, March 23, 2012

The Warm-Up: backwords — "Best Kind"

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Brooklyn band backwords played the 1884 Lounge at Minglewood Hall Tuesday night on their way back from Austin's South by Southwest Music Festival. Earlier in the day, the band stopped by Ardent Studios to perform their song "Best Kind":

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lucero: On the Road, Up the Charts

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 8:51 AM

My cover story this week on Lucero, the long-running Memphis roots-rock band who launched their 8th album — Women & Work — and related tour last week at the annual South By Southwest Music Festival, is up on the site now.

If it isn't clear from the critical observations sprinkled in the profile, I think Women & Work is the band's best album yet. Having spent the past couple of weeks tracking back through the band's catalogue, Women & Work stands out for how well it captures the live sound of a band that has always excelled on stage and how fully they commit to a soulful, opulent Southern rock style that seemed a risky move a few years ago. With a virtuoso back line of Roy Berry (drums), John C. Stubblefield (bass), and Rick Steff (keys), this band now moves. There are other "Southern rock" bands I admire as much or more for their songs, vocals, or conceptual thrust — the Drive-By Truckers, the emerging Alabama Shakes — but those bands don't own the sound of the genre the way Lucero does right now.

And, happily, good things seem to be happening to such a good record. I'd heard hints in Austin last week that early sales were going really well, and, sure enough, Lucero's having their best debut on their first album after leaving a major label, with Women & Work debuting at #44 on the Billboard 200 album chart, # 8 among independent albums, and #7 on the "Tastemaker Albums" chart.

More on the band at their official site.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SXSW Spotlight: Cory Branan and Valerie June

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Cory Branan made his debut for Chicagos Bloodshot Records at SXSW.
  • Cory Branan made his debut for Chicago's Bloodshot Records at SXSW.

Cory Branan and Valerie June have a lot in common. They are both Memphis-bred, roots-oriented singer-songwriters. They're both making a new city their primary home now. They've both gone a ridiculously long time without an album on a legitimate national label, given their talents. And they both his Austin this year on the verge of rectifying that situation.

They also found themselves on the same stage Friday afternoon at the Yard Dog folk art gallery on South Congress, for the annual SXSW day party sponsored by rootsy Chicago indie Bloodshot Records.

Branan, now based in Nashville, signed with Bloodshot earlier this year and was making his debut for the label at Yard Dog, ahead of an official showcase the next night. Playing with a new three-piece backing band made up of Nashville's Thriftstore Cowboys, Branan ripped through five songs from his terrific Bloodshot debut, Mutt, which is due out May 22nd.

He opened with the hard-rocking, darkly funny “Survivor Blues” and segued into the nostalgic “Yesterday” (“You were a walking want ad/You had summer on your side/Our front yards faced each other from across the great divide”) with, “Ladies, in the second verse — if you stick around for the second verse — I will teach you how to break his heart every spring.”

After the Tom Waits-like “Snowman,” Branan introduced “Karen's Song” as “a love song about an ex. She wasn't an ex at the time, but I find it's good to throw an insult in just in case.”

Branan ended the loose, funny, spirited set with the anthemic “Badman” (“Well, okay, I'm a bad man, baby/I think a bad man would do you good.”), beginning the song by saying, “I'm with the late, great Jim Dickinson on tuning. He said it's a decadent European tradition. So that's close enough.”

Mutt, which was recorded a couple of years ago in San Francisco, will be Branan's first album since 2006's 12 Songs and his first for an established label. It's about time.

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SXSW Spotlight: Memphis Rap in the Mix

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 11:14 AM

[Note: A more hectic and more day-driven schedule than normal this year swamped my usual on-site blogging from Austin's South by Southwest Music Festival last week. A cover story about local rock veterans Lucero, who launched their new album and tour at the festival, will be in this week's print edition. Over the next couple of days, I'll put up a few items here that I didn't have room for in print.]

Don Trip on stage at Haven, Friday night at SXSW.
  • Don Trip on stage at Haven, Friday night at SXSW.

The increasingly vibrant and diverse Memphis rap and hip-hop scene was a significant player at SXSW this year, with Interscope Records signee Don Trip leading the way. Trip was recently named one of the 2012 “Freshman Class” by national hip-hop magazine XXL, which annually picks 10 rappers set to break out in the coming year, and as Trip landed in Austin on Tuesday, the April issue of the magazine, with Trip (and the other nine picks) on the cover, was on display at the convention hall.

“They called me a few months back and told me I might make the cover,” Trip says. “We went out to shoot it in January, and after that it was like a top-secret. I couldn't tell anybody.”

By his own count, Trip played nine shows in Austin — showcasing "Help is On the Way" and "Like Me" from his new mixtape Guerrilla, along with his single "Letter to My Son" at most appearances — before flying back home on Saturday afternoon, including an XXL sponsored showcase Tuesday night and a Thursday night showcase that featured a couple of surprises, with superstar hip-hop producer Timbaland, who did an unannounced set before Trip took the stage, introducing him and Memphis compatriot Yo Gotti joining him on stage.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

SXSW Wednesday Dispatch: Cities Aviv, Alabama Shakes, Todd Snider

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 10:43 AM

The theme for this, my seventh trip to Austin's South By Southwest Music Festival, seems to be “early.”

For the first time, I had an early Wednesday night set — Memphis rapper Cities Aviv at the Lustre Pearl — on my agenda, which meant driving straight from Memphis to the Austin Convention Center with no time to settle in and have a meal.

And for the first time I've got early — which, here, means around noon — commitments today and tomorrow related to next week's Flyer cover story from the festival.

The latter means my usual daily blog posts are going to be brief this year, at least until Saturday.

My opening night itinerary played out like this: Cities Aviv stalking the stage with local DJ veteran Luke “Redeye Jedi” Sexton manning the music behind him. Kenyans Sauti Sol grooving in unison at Flamingo Cantina. Sharon Van Etten closing out her NPR set at Stubb's with the powerhouse “Serpents.” On-the-come band Alabama Shakes doing a modern garage-rock spin on “Aretha at Muscle Shoals” on the strength of utterly charming frontwoman Brittany Howard, also at Stubb's. Onetime Memphian Todd Snider debuting his new album and new band at with a spirited set at St. David's Sanctuary, not seeming to notice the incongruity of playing music from Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables at a church. And then a wild finish by indie-punk New Jersey band Titus Andronicus at Bar 96, who opened their set with a fiercely committed by still funny cover of Thin Lizzy's “The Boys are Back in Town” (with the drummer taking the second verse) and closed it with a blistering medley of “Travelin' Band” (CCR), “Good Golly Miss Molly” (Little Richard), and “Roll Over Beethovan” (Chuck Berry), playing some very promising new material in between.

Today, I'm starting out with locals Lucero, who are playing a party for their management company, Red Light, at Stubb's in the early afternoon. My night plans, however, have been thrown for a loop. I initially targeted Fiona Apple and Memphis rapper Don Trip in the early evening, but it turns out I won a drawing for a Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band show at the Moody Theater. Can't turn that down. Trip's got three shows scheduled for Friday night, so he can wait.

And, now, back into the mess.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wilco to Play Mud Island May 19th

Posted By on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Chicago alt/folk rockers Wilco return to Memphis to play Mud Island Amphitheatre on Saturday, May 19th. Tickets for the concert, which opens the venue's 2012 season, go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. and are available at, at Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 800-745-3000.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Warm-Up: Heartless Bastards — "Skin & Bone"

Posted By on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 9:56 PM

On Wednesday night, the Ohio-bred, now Austin-based rock band Heartless Bastards, led by stirring lead singer Erika Wennerstrom, played the Hi-Tone Café on Wednesday night. But earlier in the day they stopped by Ardent Studios, where they performed the song "Skin & Bone," from their fine new album Arrow:

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Warm-Up: Leatherbag - "Living in the Dark"

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Austin, Texas, rock band Leatherbag played the Hi-Tone Café Sunday night. The next day, they stopped by Ardent Studios to perform their song "Living in the Dark":

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