Friday, November 30, 2012

Bobby Bland Highlights Memphis Music Hall of Fame Induction

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 9:11 AM

Bobby Blue Bland at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
  • Bobby "Blue" Bland at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
It didn't have the star power it might have, with living inductees such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Al Green, B.B. King, and Mavis Staples not among the night's performers, but Thursday's inaugural induction ceremony at a roughly half full Cannon Center for the Performing Arts was still a nice, if occasionally wordy and slightly overlong, celebration of the breadth of Memphis music.

And when 82-year-old, Beale Street-bred soul-blues titan Bobby “Blue” Bland took a seat on stage and sang his classics “Goin' Down Slow” and “Stormy Monday Blues,” this alone was, as they say, worth the price of admission.

Bland's voice was worn but still graceful, with a range that went from his deep “yeah” to quavery high notes. He was helped to the stage and to a chair. When an early bit of feedback disrupted the beginning of his first song, Bland smiled and said “That's my fault.” And then he dug into “Goin' Down Slow,” adding extra gravity to the lines “Somebody please write my mother and tell her the shape I'm in/And tell her to pray for me and forgive me for all my sins.”

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Sound Advice: Lord T & Eloise "Get Basted" at the Hi-Tone

Posted By on Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 7:44 PM


Memphis "aristocrunk" rap pioneers Lord T & Eloise will perform this Wednesday, November 21 at the Hi-Tone Cafe with special guests Beyonda Doubt, Mr. White, and Witnesse. The holiday-themed event - appropriately dubbed "Get Basted with Lord T & Eloise" - marks the duo's first local appearance in over six months.

Lord T & Eloise has been hard at work in the studio recently creating a follow-up to 2010's critically acclaimed Rapocalypse, in the form of a pair of mixtapes titled Blackout Crunk Vol. 1 and 2. The video for the first single from said mixtapes, "Day Drinking," can be viewed here:

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sound Advice: Missing Monuments, the Manatees, Switchblade Kid at the Hi-Tone Café

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2012 at 9:57 AM

Tonight, King Louie Bankston returns to Memphis and the Hi-Tone Café with his latest group, the Missing Monuments. The New Orleans native has been an ally to the Memphis music scene for quite some time with his projects like Loose Diamonds, the Persuaders, and Kajun SS playing here every few months during their respective lifespans.

Missing Monuments sounds more like the power pop coming out of the Midwest in the late 1970s than the hillbilly rock-and-roll that Bankston had been cranking out through the mid 2000s, showing his versatility as a songwriter and his knack for a guitar hook. Tonight marks the first time Bankston has played Memphis since resurrecting the Persuaders for a performance at Gonerfest 9.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Memphis Dawls’ Analog Adventures

Posted By on Mon, Nov 12, 2012 at 8:43 AM

The Memphis Dawls
The Memphis Dawls were at Ardent Studios last week taking advantage of a new recording package offered by engineers Jeff Powell and Lucas Peterson. The Dawls (Holly Cole, Jana Misener, and Krista Wroten Combest) tracked two songs, “Where’d You Go” and “Let’s Leave This Place.”

The Powell/Peterson deal includes two songs tracked live to analog tape and mastered to vinyl in the same day. The two have extensive experience at Ardent and can dial in sounds that are appropriate for vinyl mastering.

“We just use the balance we get, touch it with a little EQ, and print it,” Powell says.

The Dawls were cutting the tracks to the second song and not to be bothered. The first track blends American string-band music with sharp female harmonies harkening to the 1940s. The second track moved gorgeously through its changes as they cut the rhythm tracks. These ladies specialize in harmony, and that shows in the part writing of the instruments as well as in their captivating vocals.

The masters were headed to Nashville the next day. Check their website for details about availability. Hear their latest EP below.

The Memphis Dawls EP:

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rolling Head Orchestra Election-Night Stream

Posted By on Tue, Nov 6, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Alex Greene is biased. The former NYU electronic music student/organic farmer/multi-instrumental songsmith/Tav Falco sideman/inveterate lefty is taking to the bitwaves in an election-night live-from-the-studio stream of his Rolling Head Orchestra on DittyTV. Rolling Head Orchestra unites a pantheon of sidemen (Tom Lonardo, Jim Spake, John Whittemore) in pursuit of Greene's leftist jazz ideals by way of 20th-century art song. Imagine Kurt Weil and Woody Guthrie drinking at the Big Pink. An earthy, smart, and soulful soundtrack to following the returns. Open a browser window and watch democracy unfold. Hear Greene's "Oh My Job" below.

Rolling Head Orchestra
Live Election Night Stream, 6-7 p.m.

Sound Advice: Gentleman Jesse and Dave Cousar at the Buccaneer Lounge.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 6, 2012 at 8:54 AM

Gentleman Jesse
  • Gentleman Jesse
Atlanta garage-pop mastermind Gentleman Jesse joins Dave Cousar at the Buccaneer tonight for an evening of guitar-driven rock-and-roll.

As a member of Atlanta power-punk group the Carbonas (whose final record came out on Goner), Jesse Smith cranked out nasty punk riffs that bands like the Zero Boys and Radio Birdman made popular in the late 1970s, but don’t expect that from this project. Sounding a lot like the Nerves and maybe even a slower, sadder version of the Exploding Hearts, Smith has found a power-pop sweet spot with lyrics focusing on heartbreak, self-loathing, and failed relationships.

Also playing the show is Memphis guitarist Dave Cousar, who’s sat in as a session player with everyone from Al Green to Lucero. Cousar also plays guitar for Amy Lavere, and can often be seen playing his brand of guitar blues at the Buccaneer on Tuesday nights. The show is being advertised as a late one, with the first act scheduled to go on at 11:30. Admission is $7.00 and the show is 21 and up.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Indie Memphis Awards: Antenna, As I Am, Open Five 2 are among the winners.

Posted By on Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 11:09 PM

Co-creators and leads Caroline White and Kentucker Audley in Hometowner Feature winner Open Five 2.
  • Co-creators and leads Caroline White and Kentucker Audley in Hometowner Feature winner Open Five 2.

C. Scott McCoy and Laura Jean Hocking's full-length music documentary Antenna and Alan Spearman's South Memphis-set short doc As I Am were double-winners at the 15th Indie Memphis Film Festival, which presented its awards at a closing ceremony Sunday night.

Antenna won Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature and a Special Jury Award for Local Significance from the Hometowner jury. As I Am took in two Hometowner awards, Best Documentary Short and the Audience Award.

The ceremony was hosted by producer Savannah Bearden and featured video clips from the local Corduroy Wednesday filmmaking group, which spoofed the upcoming presidential election with a fictional election for Indie Memphis executive director. Filmmakers G.B. Shannon, Edward Valibus Phillips, and Ben Siler portrayed challengers to "incumbent" Erik Jambor, who went above and beyond this year by overseeing the biggest and best Indie Memphis yet despite having his first child — a daughter, Simone — just two days before the festival began. (Simone made a cameo at the ceremony, in the arms of mother happy mother Robin Salant.) Helping in the expansion is primary sponsor Duncan-Williams, Inc..

"I've told Erik, we're going to continue to make this bigger and better every year," Williams himself announced at the ceremony's outset.

Ryan Parker and G.B. Shannon picked up the first award of the night for Best Hometowner Short Film for their work Pretty Monsters, making it the consecutive wins in this category for the duo following their 2011 prize winner Fresh Skweezed.

The most memorable acceptance speech came from Kentucker Audley and Caroline White, the "stars" and co-producers of Audley's intensely personal Open Five 2, which won the award for Best Hometowner Feature.

"I think I'm the only person on the stage that likes the movie," Audley cracked after White was struggling for words to explain the film.

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Indie Memphis Sunday: Open Five 2, Silver Linings Playbook, Not Fade Away

Posted By on Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 8:23 AM

Kentucker Audley and Jake Rabinbach in Open Five 2
  • Kentucker Audley and Jake Rabinbach in Open Five 2

The final day of the 15th Indie Memphis Film Festival will feature a Big Star encore, a local premiere, perhaps the two highest-profile features of the fest, and the distribution of festival awards. As always, see for a full schedule and ticketing info. But here are some selected highlights from today's schedule:

After an unofficial, unlisted work-in-progress screening at last year's festival, Kentucker Audley's Open Five 2 (Circuit Playhouse, 5:45 p.m.) makes its official Memphis debut. A provocatively personal film that collapses the distance between fiction and documentary and is packed with memorable moments, it's Audley's best film yet. I wrote more about it in this week's Flyer cover story.

Open Five 2 trailer:

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Indie Memphis Saturday: Keep the Lights On, Pilgrim Song, V/H/S

Posted By on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 at 10:14 AM

A scene from Keep the Lights On
  • A scene from Keep the Lights On
A selective guide to some of the highlights from the third day of the Indie Memphis Film Festival. For a full schedule and ticketing info, see

The retrospective of Memphis-bred filmmaker Ira Sachs kicks into full drive. Earlier in the day, a selection of Ira Sachs Shorts (Circuit Playhouse, 11 a.m.) will screen, followed by Sachs' made-in-Memphis coming-of-age debut, The Delta (Brooks Museum of Art, 2 p.m.).

And then, the gala screening tonight is, in my mind, the signature event of the festival, the Memphis debut of Sachs' newest and best film, Keep the Lights On (Playhouse on the Square, 7 p.m.), a delicate, richly textured epic about the troubled, decade-long relationship between two New Yorkers that's been hailed as “landmark in gay cinema” and one of the year's best films. You can read my profile of Sachs in this week's Flyer here.

Keep the Lights On trailer:

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Indie Memphis Friday: Antenna, Ira Sachs, The Comedy

Posted By on Fri, Nov 2, 2012 at 9:17 AM

The second day of the 15th Indie Memphis Film Festival is highlighted by Antenna (Playhouse on the Square, 6:30 p.m.), a years-in-the-making Memphis alt/punk-scene portrait from local filmmakers C. Scott McCoy and Laura Jean Hocking, which picks up where last night's gala screening title, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, leaves off — almost literally. An infamous Memphis television appearance by Tav Falco's Panther Burns, with Chilton on guitar, comes late in the Big Star film, depicted as a kind of landing point for Chilton as power-pop evolved into punk and alt-rock. The same clip is used at the beginning of Antenna as the local-punk Big Bang.

Antenna tells the story of the titular rock club, once located at the corner of Madison and Avalon in Midtown, where so many culturally left-of-center Memphians in the '80s and '90s found their voices and each other. Along the way, we get glimpses of early alternative/punk/new wave acts such as the Panther Burns, the Modifiers, and Calculated X and see the rise of the city's signature '90s bands, the Grifters and Oblivians.

Antenna trailer:

The doc situates the Antenna as a key part of a growing national indie-rock network via interviews with major figures such as R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, Minutemen's Mike Watt, and Black Flag's Greg Ginn. And it takes a great detour into the all-ages hardcore scene that grew up around the club in the late '80s and early '90s.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Indie Memphis Thursday: Big Star, Craig Brewer, Sun Don't Shine

Posted By on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Kentucker Audley on our cover this week.
  • Kentucker Audley on our cover this week.
The 15th Indie Memphis Film Festival kicks today with a limited slate before opening up with wall-to-wall action tomorrow.

You can check out my cover story in this week's paper on Memphis-connected filmmakers Ira Sachs and Kentucker Audley, who are both involved with multiple films at this year's festival, most notably new features — Sachs' Keep the Lights On and Audley's Open Five 2 — that are provocatively personal. I also touch on a quartet of selections rooted in Memphis cultural history, including the two highest-profile screenings tonight. Separately, colleagues Chris Davis and Greg Akers join me to highlight a handful of potentially overlooked festival selections.

The gala screening tonight of Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (Playhouse on the Square, 6:30 p.m.), the fine new documentary portrait of the great Memphis ’70s band, is sold out, but there's plenty more to choose from.

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Sound Advice: Destruction Unit at the Buccaneer Lounge

Posted By on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 at 8:17 AM

Destruction Unit
  • Destruction Unit
Former Memphian Ryan Rousseau returns to the Bluff City tonight as his band Destruction Unit get set to play the Buccaneer Lounge. No stranger to the local punk scene, Rousseau was a founding member of the Reatards and one of the only musicians to perform every year of Goner Fest since its inception in 2004.

The Memphis connections don’t stop there. The original lineup of Destruction Unit also included Memphis musicians Jay Reatard and Alicja Trout (Lost Sounds, Black Sunday). That pair also recorded the first two Destruction Unit albums and eventually helped write a few songs that appear on the second album.
After moving back to Arizona, the band went stagnant for a while, with Rousseau focusing on his more psychedelic outfits Desert Children and Earthmen & Strangers. But in 2009, Rousseau recruited fellow desert punks from various groups to round out the second era of Destruction Unit, this time incorporating elements of krautrock into the distortion-laden mix.

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