by Mark Jordan
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do?
Maybe, but it happens all the
time. In particular, two popular local bands, the Oblivians and the Clears, have recently
called it quits.
The Oblivians went splitsville
after what was, according to Eric Oblivian, né Friedl, a good time of complete
rock-and-roll nuttiness touring Japan with Guitar Wolf. Friedl says the band had
been spending less and less time working on Oblivians material, and decided it was time to
go their separate ways. Greg Cartwright has a new record titled Head Shop due out next
month, while Friedl and Jack Yarber have been playing around town with a noise- outfit
called the Virtual Girls.
As for the Clears, we received a
fax not too long ago from Brad Pounders, the bands drummer. It is with my
deepest regrets that we inform you of yet another casualty in the Memphis music
scene, it read. The Clears have officially disappeared.
The Clears keyboardist,
Shelby Bryant, on the other hand, prefers to think of the band as on the back burner.
Were an inert gas, he says.
Avid readers might remember that
two of this writers picks for best local record of 1997 were put out by these very
bands. So if theres a band youd like to see vanquished, just let me know.
Ill be happy to sing their praises. Just be warned that results may vary. My third
end-of-the-year pick was the latest double-CD from Loverly Music, which just merited a
four-star rave in Rolling Stone. Jim Hanas
Commission Closer To Fruition
Mayor W.W. Herenton last week
presented to the city council eight of his 10 nominees to serve on the newly formed
Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission.
Seven nominees - Barkays
bassist and Select-o-Hits promoter James Alexander; Bank of Bartlett president Harold
Byrd; Bruce Demps, general manager of radio stations WDIA, WHRK, KJMS; Olivia Dobbins, of
the Black Business Association; Jon Hornyak, director of the local chapter of the National
Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences; club owner and president of the Beale Street
Merchants Association Preston Lamm, and music promoter Cato Walker were
approved by the council. Approval of the eighth nominee, Gary Belz, had his nomination put
on hold while officials answer questions concerning residency requirements.
The other two remaining nominees
Memphis Horn Andrew Love and socialite/dress designer Pat Kerr Tigrett could
not be present at the council meeting. Love is expected to be presented before the council
on February 24th; Tigrett will appear for approval on March 3rd.
Premier Players Announced
The nominees for the 13th Annual
Premier Player Awards have been announced. And except for a few bizarre nominations (I
know Ross Rice just put out his first solo album, but a best newcomer nomination?) , this
years list appears to be fairly encompassing of the citys myriad scenes,
especially with the addition of three new categories rapper/club deejay, teacher,
The nominees are:
Premier guitarist Tommy
Burroughs, Luther Dickinson, Jack Holder, Jimmy King, Calvin Newborn, and Preston Shannon;
drummer/percussionist Lloyd Anderson, Cody Dickinson, Robert Hall, Harry Peel, and
James Robertson; strings player Roy Brewer, Richard Ford, Peter Hyrka, Eric Lewis,
Peter Spurbeck, and Kevin Tallant; songwriter Nancy Apple, Sandy Carroll, Jimmy
Davis, Ross Rice, Todd Snider, Garrison Starr, and Keith Sykes; keyboardist Al
Gamble, Ross Rice, Rick Steff, Tony Thomas, Charlie Wood, and Ernest Williamson; brass
player Ben Cauley, Tom Clary, Wayne Jackson, Reid McCoy, and Scott Thompson; female
vocalist Joyce Cobb, Kelley Hurt, Jackie Johnson, Susan Marshall-Powell, and Reba
Russell; engineer William Brown, John Hampton, Dawn Hopkins, Skidd Mills, Jeff
Powell, Mark Yoshida; bass (electric/upright) player Richard Cushing, Tim Goodwin,
Sam Shoup, Dave Smith, and John Williams; woodwinds Art Edmaiston, Fred Ford,
Herman Green, Lannie McMillan, Jim Spake, and Carl Wolfe; male vocalist .Parker
Card, Jimmy Davis, Gary Johns, John Kilzer, Kevin Paige, Preston Shannon, and Todd Snider;
producer Jim Dickinson, Jim Gaines, John Hampton, Willie Mitchell, and Ross Rice;
band Big Ass Truck, FreeWorld, North Mississippi All-Stars, Preston Shannon Band,
and the Riverbluff Clan; rapper/club deejay AK 47 from CYC, Al Kapone, Archie
Mitchell, Three 6 Mafia, and Darryl Stanley; newcomer Cheeky Monkey, Jackie
Johnson, Jones, Keith Brown, The Mudflaps, Neilson Hubbard, Patrick Dodd Band, and Ross
Rice; choir Angelic Voices Of Faith directed by Mike Dodson, Pam Armour and the
Memphis Area Workshop, the Associates Choir directed by OLanda Draper, Tim Bailey
and the Orange Mound Community Choir, and the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church Choir
directed by Leo Davis; music teacher Lily Afshar, Jeff Brewer, Tim Goodwin, Lulah
Hedgeman, Jeff Huddleston, Kerry Movassagl, Eugene Rush, and Jeanne Sheffield.
In addition, the local NARAS
committee will recognize outstanding technical and artistic effort across the spectrum of
the music industry with the new Award for Outstanding Achievement; nominees in that field
are producer Jim Gaines, writer Robert Gordon, saxophonist Herman Green, producer Willie
Mitchell, and performers Ann Peebles, Garrison Starr, Rufus Thomas, and Three 6 Mafia.
And another new honor, the Award
for Community Service, will also be presented with the nominees being the Center for
Southern Folklore, the Blues Ball, WEVL-FM 90, longtime music booster Pat Mitchell, and
Commercial Appeal music writer Bill Ellis.
The Premier Player Awards will be
presented April 9th in a ceremony at The Peabody. n
The Rhythms Of
Edwin McCain has a gift for turning others personal
experiences into infectious rock.
by Mark Jordan
n his classic-rock radio staple The Load-Out, Jackson
Browne sings about the road, about how for most musicians the tedious grind of touring is
worth it for a chance to stand in front of an audience if only for a couple of
hours and play music.
But for South Carolina native Edwin McCain,
the long hours spent on the bus are almost as precious as those few spent on stage.
I love the road, says McCain,
who released his second album, Misguided Roses, last summer. The road is where I get
a lot of my songs.
at The Library
Friday, February 27
McCain is referring to the characters and places that he encounters in his travels,
which in turn tend to turn up in the lyrics to his heartfelt pop/rock songs people
like the New York cabbie and the Louisiana dressmaker of How Strange It Seems
or the pride of cocky high-school kids blasting their car stereos in Cleveland
Park, both tracks from Roses.
[My songs] are snapshots from the
road, snapshots from the life that I see as I lead it. Little bits and pieces of emotions
that people have played out in front of me over the years.
Theres no question
that the road is all one great big picture show, and the screen is the windshield of
whatever vehicle youre riding in.
It seems as though McCain has spent a good
part of his life observing others, living vicariously through their experiences. Though an
adopted child, for the most part McCain says his childhood growing up in Greenville, South
Carolina, was a normal one.
[My childhood] was middle of the
road. I was adopted into a middle-class family. I went to high school like everybody else.
Theres really nothing extraordinary about it. I got my Plymouth Scamp hand-me-down
car when I was 15. I promptly rode around with my friends and ran into trash cans and did
the regular 15-year-old things. I just kind of grew up just like everybody else. It was
all pretty normal. I wish I had a fantastical story to tell you.
But if young McCains own life was
nothing to sing about, at least he was able to find ones that were through the church
choir, school theatrical productions, and in his first high-school band.
After high school and a brief stint in
college, McCain began to take his music more seriously. He picked up a gig in the South
Carolina resort town of Hilton Head, which led to similar jobs in St. Croix and Vail,
Colorado. He could have gone on playing the resort circuit forever spending his
days on the slopes or the beach and his nights entertaining the tourists but the
more he played, the grander his ambitions became.
Those were not bad gigs, McCain
says with a glint of sarcasm. But theres really only so far you can take that.
So, I came back to Charleston, put together a band, and got out on the road.
And thats where hes been ever
since. McCain estimates that hes been touring steadily since 1991. In 1994 alone,
McCain and his band played 327 shows. Somewhere along the way, McCain and crew met up with
another South Carolina band, Hootie and the Blowfish. With an anthemic, straight-ahead
rock style in common, Hootie and McCain quickly became friends. And as the Blowfish began
their legendary rocket shot to chart success, McCain found himself strapped to the
fuselage as their opening act.
But now with Misguided Roses, McCain is
getting ready to come into his own. Unlike his fine first record, Honor Among Thieves,
which featured McCain in a more Americana mode with some flourishes of pop, soul, and
jazz, Roses is a more ambitious record. McCain and his producers Matt Rollings and Kenny
Greenberg work in samples and ethnic influences, best exemplified by the field recording
of African children slapping a beat on the surface of a river that starts off Rhythm
of Life. As with his lyrics, McCain is once more using the finely observed personal
experiences of others for inspiration.
It is a trend that has carried over into
McCains personal life as well. It was the plight of Charlestons poorest
neighborhoods that inspired McCain to co-found the American Street Foundation, a project
aimed at revitalizing the citys hurricane-ravaged low-income housing. A 1996 concert
in Charleston featuring McCain, Hootie, Allman Brothers guitarist Warren Haynes, and
Drivin n Cryin frontman Kevn Kinney raised $250,000 for the
foundation. Future plans, befitting McCains own propensity toward wanderlust, call
for the ASF to become a national organization benefiting from a series of 10 concerts to
be held across the country.
But all that will have to wait, for now.
Ive just been insanely busy
supporting this album, McCain says. Were going to be out for at least
Just like anything, you get tired of it. Its just of matter of
really wanting to live a musical life and being proud to be a part of a musical heritage.
Theres some things about it that are really beautiful, and theres some things
that are a real pain in the ass. But overall, I think Im fortunate to be doing what
Im doing. n