Thursday, February 28, 2013

The 2013 Beale Street Music Festival Lineup

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 9:00 AM

The full lineup is out for this year's Beale Street Music Festival, which takes place Friday, May 3rd through Sunday, May 5th at Tom Lee Park, with artists such as the Black Keys, the Roots, Hall & Oates, and the Black Crowes among the headliners.

Three-day passes for the festival are $85 and are available through April 21st. See MemphisinMay.org for more info.

The Line-Up:

Friday
FedEx Stage: Alice in Chains, Deftones, Yngwie Malmsteen, Don Trip.
Early Read: Ace local rapper Don Trip makes his BSMF debut, then things get heavy.

Soul man Charles Bradley will close out the Horseshoe Casino Blues Tent on Friday night.
  • Soul man Charles Bradley will close out the Horseshoe Casino Blues Tent on Friday night.
Orion Stage: Hall & Oates, Sheryl Crow, The Wallflowers, Shannon McNally
Early Read: Maybe the most broadly appealing stage of the festival, with Mid-South powerhouse Crow setting up pop hitmakers Hall & Oates.

Bud Light Stage: Bassnectar, Edward Sharpe & Magnetic Zeros, Mimosa, The Joy Formidable.
Early Read: Alternating alt-rock and electronics, but don't sleep on the opener, Welsh alt-rock power-trio the Joy Formidable, whose most recent album is appropriately titled The Big Roar.

Horseshoe Casino Blues Tent:Charles Bradley, Heritage Blues Orchestra, Louise Hoffsten, Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition.
Early Read: I saw soul man Charles Bradley a couple of years ago at Austin's South By Southwest Music Festival and can testify as to his live bona fides. Once a James Brown impersonator called “Black Velvet,” Bradley has more recently found an audience with his own music and should play well down in Soulsville.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Herrington & Akers on the Oscars, Day 4: Director and Picture

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Previously on Herrington & Akers on the Oscars:
Day 1: Supporting Performances
Day 2: Screenplays
Day 3: Lead Performances

Best Director
Nominees: Michael Haneke (Amour), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook).

David O. Russell
  • David O. Russell
Chris Herrington :
Will Win: With Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow surprisingly left off the short list, I have a hard time seeing anyone but Steven Spielberg winning here. If I had to pick a spoiler: David O. Russell, only because I suspect Silver Linings Playbook might steal the night.

Should Win: I love Lincoln, but I think it might be the least director-driven good film of Spielberg's career, with screenwriter Tony Kushner and lead Daniel Day-Lewis vying for authorship. (Not to mention the casting director.) So I'll vote here for Michael Haneke, whose precise framing and bold rejection of sentimentality elevate Amour.

Got Robbed: My picks for the two best directing jobs of the year were left out. That would be Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master and Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty. Anderson reminds us — at a time in the (d)evolution of the medium when we really needed to be reminded — what real film can look like in the hands of a real director, especially with an opening section that stands as the best stretch of filmmaking I saw last year. But Bigelow's absence here is a joke. I admire Bigelow's unsettling bookends, the intentionally hum-drum precision of the (anti-)climactic raid, the way she carries the narrative through-line across a decade and nearly three-hours of run time, and the subtle way the film tells a personal story of a woman trying to launch a pet project in a male industry. It seemed like every end-of-year prestige picture pushed three hours, but none was as worthy of its length as Zero Dark Thirty.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pre-gaming for the final Hi-Tone show

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 3:53 PM

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This weekend two hometown heavyweights, The Barbaras and the Oblivians, will reunite for the final concert at the iconic Hi-Tone music venue. But as with most heavily anticipated musical events in Memphis, a pre-party is in order.

Fortunately, the newest watering hole in Cooper-Young, Bar DKDC, has your pre-game rituals covered. Reigning Sound founder/ Oblivians member/one-time Memphian Greg Cartwright kicks off the weekend festivities tonight with a solo performance at DKDC (formerly DO sushi). Known for inserting his southern drawl amidst carefully crafted garage-pop songs, Cartwright’s solo performances are as captive as the full-band experience he produces with the Reigning Sound. Here’s a video of Greg performing solo at last years “Atlanta Mess Around,” an annual garage rock festival that takes place further down south.

Keeping with the tradition of homecomings and reunions, ex-Hi-Tone sound man/former Manatees member/Shangri-La Records guru Andrew McCalla returns to Memphis and joins forces tomorrow night with Eric Hermeyer to re-form Buck Wilders and the Hookup, the DJ duo that was responsible for many late-night dance parties around the Midtown area several years ago. McCalla moved to Austin last year to pursue a career in sound engineering. We caught up with him and asked him how he felt about returning to Memphis and to recall some of his favorite memories of the Hi-Tone.

Flyer: It seems like when you lived in Memphis, you lived and breathed music, working at a record store during the day and running sound at night. On top of that you recorded bands on the weekend. Do you miss that? How sustainable is that kind of lifestyle in Austin?

McCalla: Actually, it sounds like I might be getting a job at a record store here, so I might be getting right back into that. I’ve also been recording John Wesley Coleman (Goner Records) almost every week. I totally do miss Memphis for how laidback it was. In Austin, there’s just so many bands and so many people recording and playing in bands. It seems like I’m getting back into doing exactly what I was doing in Memphis. It’s just taking a little bit longer to get back into that routine.

DJ Buck Wilders, aka Andrew McCalla
  • DJ Buck Wilders, aka Andrew McCalla

How long have you and Eric been spinning records together, and how long has it been since you and him worked together? Anything special planned for tomorrow night that you wouldn’t normally do?

Nah, there’s nothing planned that we normally wouldn’t do. I honestly can’t think of what year he moved here, but I know I started DJ-ing with him shortly after he moved to Memphis, which means we’ve been working together for at least eight years. Last time we spun together was at my going away party last summer.


As a former employee of the Hi-Tone, you’ve probably seen some crazy stuff go down over the years. Are there any performances or events that stick out in your mind?

I’ll definitely never forget the Question Mark and the Mysterians show, and seeing Blue Cheer there was pretty awesome too. Everybody always talks about Elvis Costello as the most memorable show, but I didn’t care for that at all. Billy Bob Thornton played the Hi-Tone once and Jerry Lee Lewis came and watched and left in the middle of it. I was working security that night, and they had to have me walk Jerry Lee Lewis through the whole building so he could get out the back. I had to escort him, and it was pretty funny saying, “Coming through, it’s Jerry Lee Lewis, get out of the way!” One of the most ridiculous things I did was light my crash cymbal on fire while the Oh Sees played on the floor a couple summers ago.


What are you expecting Saturday to be like? I’m predicting lots of glitter and maybe a little blood during the Barbaras? Any predictions?

I think people are going to have a good time. There’s going to be some emotional folks in there for sure. People have already told me it’s going to get emotional. I don’t know how other people are taking it, but the people who are there all the time and the employees will probably get a little emotional. The Hi-Tone was a big part of those peoples' everyday life. I mean, it sucks its closing but it was bound to happen, so if they’re going to go out, might as well go out with the Oblivians.

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Herrington & Akers on the Oscars, Day 3: Lead Performances

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Previously on Herrington & Akers on the Oscars:
Day 1: Supporting Performances
Day 2: Screenplays

Greg Akers: A couple times now you've mentioned reasons why you think you're terrible at predicting Oscars. Untruth of that assessment aside, I would compare picking categories based on relative merit akin to guessing the NBA All-Star Game starters based on worthiness. It's a fool's game. The starters are the most popular players, even if they don't deserve it.

Best Lead Actress
Nominees: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Akers: First, this is a really great category. I at least like and in some cases love every performance. I would be very happy if my fifth favorite won. This seems to be a two-way race between Chastain and Lawrence. Stat alert: The winner of the Golden Globe has won the Oscar 14 of the last 17 years. Chastain and Lawrence each won the Golden Globe this year in their respective categories. Riva won the BAFTA, but that has only mattered 8 of the last 17 years, and every time the BAFTAs were right, so were the Golden Globes. It's a trend, yo.

Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
  • Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook"
I'm leaning to the side that Jennifer Lawrence Will Win. The narratives that she wins are either that she gets caught up in a Silver Linings Playbook feeding frenzy, or at the least capitalizes on Chastain being hurt by the controversy around Zero Dark Thirty. Chastain has a tougher row to hoe. (Question: Agrarian metaphors: uselessly obscure at this point in popular American culture?)

Should Win: On the other hand, I think Jessica Chastain has the edge in terms of merit. She's simply amazing. I couldn't help but think of her as having a Sarah Connor-type trajectory, with Chastain taking her character, Maya, from the weak-stomached (some might say well-adjusted) CIA smarty to the badass, take-no-prisoners crusader. In a scene toward the end of Zero Dark Thirty, Maya even dons aviator sunglasses, a knowing reference made by Kathryn Bigelow to Connor in her ex's, James Cameron's, Terminator 2. And Chastain (and screenwriter Mark Boal) really nail Maya in the last scene in the film, as the character sits alone contemplating her achievement and the toll it took (personally and beyond) to get there. "What's next" is the perfect question to ask, and I love how Chastain handles it. "What price victory" is the question the film doesn't ask but implies. Why does nobody talk about the ending to Zero Dark Thirty when discussing where it sits on the sliding scale of righteousness/repugnancy?

Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
  • Emmanuelle Riva in "Amour"
As for the other nominees: Silver Linings Playbook is an actors' movie, and Lawrence gets the best of it in the film as Tiffany, a prickly-pear, slutty widow with a heart of gold. She's going to be great to watch for years to come. Riva is hard to watch (in a good way) as the dying Anne in Michael Haneke's hard to watch (in a good way) Amour. Wallis is fierce, a ball of energy, as Hushpuppy, and I still can't get over that she was only 6 when they made Beasts of the Southern Wild — only 5 when she got the part. We both have 8-year-old daughters; I'm picturing them back when they were 5 or 6, with a performance like that. Crazy. I love Watts, too, in her brutally physical performance in The Impossible. In practical terms, having to spend weeks in the water on the set ... Watts is impressive.

Got Robbed: I don't think Keira Knightley has ever been better than as the title role in Anna Karenina. For that matter, I should've mentioned the film as getting robbed for Adapted Screenplay. A friend says he was glad when Anna Karenina threw herself under a train. (Spoiler-alert for a plot point from a novel more than a century old?) I just don't get the dislike and relative forgotten-ness of the film. That's a really good movie.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Herrington & Akers on the Oscars, Day 2: Screenplays

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 12:31 PM

We're back with Day 2 of our four-day lumberjack match over this year's Oscar nominations. Yesterday, Greg and I split on Best Supporting Actor picks while throwing some attention to under-recognized performers such as Ann Dowd and David Strathairn.

Today, we wade into the written word with the two screenplay categores:

Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Amour, Django Unchained, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty.

Chris Herrington

Zero Dark Thirty
  • Zero Dark Thirty
Will Win: This is where the apparent Zero Dark Thirty backlash confuses me most. My minimal contact in Oscar handicapping suggests this is the category where the film is most likely to win, but shouldn't Mark Boal's CIA-aided screenplay be the aspect of the film that most troubles the film's opponents? Would a win here while Kathryn Bigelow goes unnoticed for director be dissonant? Just misogynist? In my confusion, I'm calling it for Michael Haneke for Amour, which has arguably the most overall strength of the nominees. And screenplay seems like the area where artier faves are more likely to prosper.

Should Win: A close call among five really good films. I think Moonrise Kingdom is dependent on Wes Anderson's visual sense and Django Unchained runs out of ideas down the stretch. Amour, I think, is rooted most strongly Haneke's precise direction and his melded performances of his two great leads. Flight is a ballsy screenplay, opening with a bang and then burrowing into something darker and more personal. But even though I question the degree to which it privileges a CIA perspective, my vote goes to Boal for his relentless, reported screenplay for Zero Dark Thirty.

Got Robbed: Lots of good candidates here: The surprisingly adult sex comedy undercut by mediocre direction in Hope Springs. The daring, beat-of-its-own-drummer campus comedy Damsels in Distress. Ira Sachs' Keep the Lights On, at once diaristic and sweeping up a whole subculture. The weighty, mysterious The Master. But I'll place my vote for Looper, which renews and elevates a popcorn subgenre while dreaming up one of the screenplay moments of the year by putting Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt at a table together, where they avoid talking about time-travel shit.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Herrington & Akers on the Oscars: Day 1: Supporting Performances

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables
  • Anne Hathaway in "Les Misérables"
The Oscars are here, and, as usual, Chris Herrington and Greg Akers are here to provide 8,000 words of commentary — who will win, who should win, and who got robbed — about an industry event that isn't nearly as important as the art in the artform, and about a ceremony that will last just a little longer than the runtime of The Hobbit. So get in the cockpit of this Oscars jumbo jet. Herrington and Akers are drunk and coked up and flying this plane upside down.

Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Greg Akers: Will Win: In the biggest lock of the night, Anne Hathaway gets her first Oscar. All of the actresses are good, but the reason Hathaway is a lock: Because. A butterfly flapped its wings in China in October 2007. I don't know. But Hathaway is a locomotive carrying nitroglycerine and blowtorches. (I actually don't know the science involved in this analogy.)

Should Win: Despite how sleepy Les Misérables made me, there's no denying how utterly riveting Anne Hathaway is. When Fantine dies (spoiler alert), they should just roll the credits. She's the life of the film. As for the others, Amy Adams has been nominated for four Supporting Actress Oscars and one day will win one or two of the things. She's excellent in The Master, particularly that one scene. You know the one I'm talking about. Sally Field is as good as she's been in ages and keeps Mrs. Lincoln from falling into a pop-psychology crazy lady ball-and-chain. I liked Helen Hunt okay in The Sessions, and would've liked to have seen even more of the subplot between her and her husband (a rough-looking Adam Arkin). As for her sex scenes, I couldn't — Hunt's nudity aside — keep my eyes off John Hawkes. I liked Jacki Weaver a lot, too, but she was given the least to work with of the four main actors (Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro).

Got Robbed: I never get to do this, so I can't resist naming the same person three times: Anne Hathaway, this time in The Dark Knight Rises. Her Selina Kyle/Catwoman is an Occupy Wall Street-type crusader who is as driven to bring down corporate criminals as Bruce Wayne/Batman is to defeat the physically violent. The two extremists pair up and form a perfect whole to right society's wrongs, provided they can moderate each other's approach. The film seems at first blush to be thematically schizophrenic but really it's just willing to present multiple perspectives and see where it goes. It mostly works. If only Christopher Nolan had given more time to Hathaway.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Sound Advice: The Old 97's at the Hi-Tone Café — Rhett Miller on the band's landmark album Too Far to Care.

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Old 97s
  • Old 97's

For nearly 16 years the Old 97's have been closing their shows with the rollicking “Timebomb,” which is just as explosive as its title implies. As drummer Phillip Peeples lays down an impossibly fast train beat and guitarist Ken Bethea fires off a desperate riff, frontman Rhett Miller howls about having “a timebomb in my mind, Mom” and being in love with a girl who’s “like a Claymore… she’s waiting ‘round to get blown apart.”

“Timebomb” opened their 1997 album, Too Far to Care, which was not only the Old 97's’ major-label debut but also remains the most popular release of their 20-year career. “Of all our records, that’s the one that probably gets the most play every night,” says Miller. “For a lot of people it was the first record they had by us, and so it holds a special place in the hearts of our fans. So we probably pay a little more attention to that one than we do to some of the later records.”

Too Far to Care was reissued last year via Omnivore Recordings, complete with remastered tracks, demos, live cuts, and alternate takes (it also marked the album’s first appearance on vinyl). What’s remarkable is just how well that album has aged. The Old 97's were one of the best and most influential bands of the alt-country movement, but rather than sounding stuck in a particular moment in the 1990s, these songs retain their urgency, their wit, their exquisite heartbreak. It’s a landmark Texas rock album, albeit an outlier in that state’s rock history: Rather than embracing the redneck-hippie country-rock pioneered by artists like Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker, the Old 97s clung to their twerp-punk roots, with Miller (often outfitted in a buzzcut and oversized thick-frame glasses) playing the perpetual loser role, sacrificing dignity for women and alcohol. “Salome,” a Too Far standout, was actually inspired by “me laying on an inflatable mattress outside a girl’s door and realizing that she was actually at home with another boy.”

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Sound Advice: Jason Freeman at Poplar Lounge

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 10:19 AM

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In a city that's launched several young, blues-based artists to various levels of prominence over the past decade or so — the North Mississippi Allstars, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Valerie June, to name three — singer/songwriter/guitarist Jason Freeman has been a fixture, but one always just outside the spotlight.

He co-founded the string-band-based Bluff City Backsliders more than a decade ago, prepped Samuel L. Jackson for his bluesman role in Black Snake Moan, has played with local artists such as June and Amy LaVere, and fronted, briefly, another band, the Midtown Lowdowns. But this winter Freeman finally made his solo debut with the impressive album Hex & Hell, released via filmmaker Craig Brewer's BR2 imprint. (The longtime collaborators also became brothers-in-law a few years ago.)

Tonight, Freeman celebrates the vinyl release of the album as well as the debut of a third video connected to the album, this one from local filmmaker Christopher Reyes, with a free record-release show at the Poplar Lounge.

J.D. Reager talked with Freeman for a feature in this week's Flyer. I also talked to him for a profile in next month's Memphis magazine, which should be out in a few weeks.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Genre of One: Onyx Ashanti at Five in One Social Club

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Onyx Ashanti
  • Onyx Ashanti

When you see him perform today, it’s hard to believe that Tupelo, Mississippi native Onyx Ashanti started out as a saxophone player. But after mastering conventional jazz saxophone and making his living as a busker in Atlanta and California, in the 1990s he became fascinated by electronic music.

“I liked that it was such a varied and open new world,” Ashanti says. “I saw synergies in music that could be applied to society. Here is this music that can be so many things at the same time. It can be cheap and cheesy, or it can be really emotional and powerful in ways that we are just starting to grasp.”

Soon, Ashanti had become a laptop noodler, playing synthesized sounds with an saxophone-style breath controller over pre-programmed beats and loops he had created.

“I didn’t have to get a bass player. I could be the bass player. I could play all of the instruments. But back then, I didn’t play all the instruments at once like I do now,” he says. Eventually, he found himself drawn to Berlin, Germany, where he now resides.

“I absolutely love it,” he says of his adopted homeland. “It is a very dynamic place. I knew they were very sophisticated about their electronic music scene, so before I left, I spent about a year developing this new strain of beatjazz.”

His forays into electronica had freed him from a traditional band environment, but the experiments in Berlin led him into an entirely new direction. The music that Ashanti will bring to Memphis this week bears some resemblance to both “conventional” electronic music and the kind of mutated jazz that Miles Davis explored in the late ’60s. But to get a sense of what Ashanti is trying to do, imagine if Miles Davis had not only been an innovative trumpet player and bandleader, but had also designed and built all of his own instruments. Ashanti creates his beatjazz by using custom controllers he designed and built using a 3D printer that allow his hands, body movement, and breath to signal and manipulate a bank of computers and synthesizers in a way that was simply not possible even a few years ago.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Win Tickets to Kid Rock

Posted By on Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Kid Rock is coming to FedExForum on Friday, March 1st, and we've got tickets!

Enter here for your chance to win.

One entry per reader, please.

Winners will be drawn on Friday, February 22nd, and notified via email.

Good luck!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Not Your Mother’s Art: Underground Art celebrates its 20th anniversary at the Hi-Tone

Posted By on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 3:51 PM

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Last weekend, the soon-to-be-departed Hi-Tone hosted the 20th anniversary party of another Midtown staple, Underground Art.

In addition to the collaborative art, the event featured performances by Rebel Child, Capgun, New Science System, SVU, Brando Little of the Gloryholes, Jody Stephens of Big Star and Alicja Trout of River City Tanlines, Sin City Scoundrels, Snagglepus, the Sidewayz, Mo Alexander, and Imaginary Friend.

Throughout the afternoon and evening, there was an art auction, with pieces donated by local artists and photographers. Proceeds benefitted Literacy Mid-South. The event provided a sample of the creativity, politics, and vision that has surrounded Underground Art and its burgeoning community for the past 20 years.

“We’ve evolved to encompass a lot of smaller local communities,” said Angela Russell, who opened the shop in 1993. “I think that the shop itself has proven to be a safe haven for all sorts of people, and we’ve built our own tight-knit community of friends and chosen family.”

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