Friday, November 24, 2017

Tribute to J.D. Reager Salutes a Mover and a Shaker

Posted By on Fri, Nov 24, 2017 at 2:45 PM

J.D. Ponders Where the "L" to Go in Chicago
  • J.D. Ponders Where the "L" to Go in Chicago
If you know Memphis music, you know J.D. Reager, an indefatigable musician and promoter of shows. Many a benefit concert and charity has been the brainchild of Reager, such as Rock for Love, the series of annual concerts that he jump started in 2009 in support of the Church Health Center; or last year's multi-band extravaganza at Lafayette's Music Room in honor of the Monkees.

As a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, he was one of the driving forces behind the local Makeshift Music collective, a group of artists who support each other, among other methods, via an independent record/CD/cassette label (which in turn would often compile the works of artists featured in the Rock for Love concerts). He would often join in concert festivities with his own band, the Cold Blooded Three (Eric Wilson, Matthew Trisler, and Bubba John Bonds), a band that could move adeptly from bubblegum pop to country rock in a heartbeat. And, like many Memphis musicians, he would play in various ad hoc ensembles, as when he led the house band for the event, "Memphis Cares: A Bowling Green Massacre Victims Benefit Concert," which took place on April Fools Day of this year.

Readers of The Memphis Flyer have also known his writings on local musical and other happenings for years. (Below are a few of his contributions to the entertainment and sports reportage of this city). Alas, he'll be shifting his focus to the north these days, as he and his wife, Jennifer Brown Reager, make the move to Chicago. Transplanting his talents to the Midwestern metropolis will no doubt yield many more years of fruitful music and words, and perhaps lead to a rich cross fertilization between here and there. In the meantime, local friends will gather in his honor tonight to bid farewell and celebrate his new, skyscraper-peppered horizons.

A Farewell Tribute to J.D. Reager
Nov 24 at 9 PM to Nov 25 at 1 AM
The Blue Monkey - Midtown

Starring J.D. Reager & the Cold Blooded Three
with special guests:
the Subteens (Mark and Jay)
the Near Reaches
Jeremy Scott
Katrina Coleman
Aaron "Dirty C" Sayers
Jason Pulley
Mystic Light Casino
Jack Alberson
Josh McLane

Doors at 9 PM, Music at 10 PM. $5.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Band Geeks: A Live Tribute to The Last Waltz

Posted By on Fri, Nov 17, 2017 at 10:26 AM

Manley, Pulley, and Whalen - BLAKE BILLINGS
  • Blake Billings
  • Manley, Pulley, and Whalen
On Thanksgiving Day of 1976, one of the seminal groups of the ’60s and ’70s, the Band, held their farewell concert at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan, two musicians who had been previously backed by the Band, were brought on board as special guest performers, and from there, the guest list swelled, growing to include Neil Young, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, the Staples Singers, and others. Robbie Robertson, the Band’s guitarist, recruited Martin Scorsese to film the event. The show included poetry readings, ballroom dancing, and even turkey dinners, which were served before the concert. The whole thing was called The Last Waltz, and it’s been regularly popping up on lists of the greatest concert films of all time ever since the its release in 1978.

Some fans of the Band might contend that the film focuses too much on Robertson, that the group’s break-up seems contrived, and that the performers and filmmakers were out of their minds on cocaine, but even the detractors would have to admit it’s a damn good concert film. And on Saturday, November 25th, Memphis-based space-rockers Glorious Abhor have assembled a group of musicians that includes HEELS and Chinese Connection Dub Embassy to pay homage to the Band with their second annual Memphis’ Last Waltz concert at the Hi-Tone.

“I booked the stage a year in advance,” Josh Stevens Glorious Abhor’s guitarist and vocalist says of 2016’s inaugural Memphis’ Last Waltz concert. Stevens had been toying with the idea of an homage show, tackling an entire album by a band, when he fell down a deep hole of Band music and lore. He immediately contacted the Hi-Tone and booked the venue, opting for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, rather than holding the show on the holiday of gratitude and gravy itself.

Stevens’ plunge into the music of the Band was precipitated by an encounter with the Band’s former drummer, Levon Helm, who continued to tour and record until his death in April 2012. “I met him at Bonnaroo. I almost knocked him off the stage,” Stevens says. He was working sound production at the middle Tennessee music festival, and despite nearly ending the set before it began by causing an untimely tumble from the stage of the lead performer, Stevens says he was transfixed by Helm’s set, which sent him down the path of discovery that lead him to the Band.

Though Stevens is a somewhat late-in-life — if fervent — convert to the Church of the Band, not all his bandmates were as late to the show. “Jason [Pulley] is a wealth of music knowledge,” Stevens says of GA’s keyboard player and vocalist — and confirmed lifelong fan of the Band.

“I’ve grown up with the music of the Band and The Last Waltz since I was a child,” Pulley says. “The songs are a part of my DNA at this point, and Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson have had a big impact on my playing style.” That lifelong familiarity with the songs of the group has come in handy as Pulley, Stevens, drummer Taylor Moore, and bassist Mitchell Manley arrange the songs of The Last Waltz to be performed by a rotating cast of Memphis musicians that includes members of all three headlining groups, as well as some special guests. And Stevens says “we’ve almost doubled the set [from 2016].”

Whalen and Stevens - BLAKE BILLINGS
  • Blake Billings
  • Whalen and Stevens
Stevens wants to keep the set list under wraps until the show, but he says that at one point “in true Last Waltz fashion, we’re all going to be on stage at the same time.” And when it came time to pick the other performers, both in 2016 and for this year’s show, Stevens didn’t have to struggle with his deliberations.
“HEELS was a no-brainer,” Stevens says of the band led by vocalist/guitarist Brennan Whalen and drummer/vocalist/comedian Josh McLane. “I loved Glorious Abhor’s performance from start to finish,” Whalen says of last year’s show. But when it comes to highlights, the singer quickly mentions playing with an expanded band. “Josh and I hadn’t played as a full band for a while last year, so it was really fun playing with a couple guitars and harmonicas going.”

The Band’s use of different instrumentation and musical styles throughout their catalogue was one of their defining characteristics, and in Memphis’ Last Waltz, the audience can expect guitars, harmonicas, mandolins, and other instruments to change hands as the performers on stage adapt to try to conjure, for a night, the magic of that Thanksgiving in 1976.

“The songs don’t need anything,” Whalen says. “They just need to be played.”

Memphis’ Last Waltz featuring Glorious Abhor, HEELS, Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, Saturday, November 25th, at the Hi-Tone, 8 p.m. $10.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

David Porter and Friends: Bringing Memphis to the World, and the World to Memphis

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 1:20 PM

David Porter - FOCHT
  • Focht
  • David Porter

David Porter, who worked with Isaac Hayes to craft some of Stax Records' most compelling songs, is a busy man. Though he's not often seen onstage, this Saturday he will host a one-of-a-kind evening of conversation and performances, featuring a diverse sampling of his friends from over five decades in the record business. Here, he talks a bit about the star-studded event, and the community cause he's hoping it will benefit.

Memphis Flyer: Tell me a little about the show you'll be hosting. It's a rather unique format.

David Porter: This is the second David Porter and Friends show that I've done at the Horseshoe Casino. The first one was a sellout. And I had Samuel L. Jackson, the actor, I had Julius Irving, the athlete. I had Isaac Hayes, and J. Blackfoot. And the casino had been actively wanting me to do this show again for several years. I just agreed to do it for a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to create a bit more attention for a nonprofit that I was the founder of, the Consortium MMT. But the primary focus of it was me putting some friends of mine together. Included in that, I will have Stevie Wonder, who was the first recipient of the Epitome of Soul Award, present the award on this show to William Bell.

William Bell - ALEX BURDEN
  • Alex Burden
  • William Bell

It's a great opportunity to present the Epitome of Soul award to William. We were going to present the award a year ago, and we were working with Shelby Farms but we were not able. There was a storm that happened and kinda messed it up. It was flooded and all, and so we decided not to opt on that. And so because we did have the award, and had named William Bell as a recipient even before he won a Grammy, we wanted to be sure and not let another year go by. So this show was a great opportunity to do that.

But the show's structure is akin to The Tonight Show, a talk show with entertainment. I have friends of mine that I sit on a couch with, on the stage, talk about their careers, we have videos of their lives, we have a fun discussion that's in-depth. I'll be doing that with Stevie Wonder. I'll be doing that with William Bell as well. With Ray Parker, Jr. as well. With Richard Roundtree, the star of Shaft. It is that kind of event. The reason I call it "and Friends" is because I create a personal kind of connection for the audience, with people that they've certainly heard about and seen, but never had this kind of view of them, with them talking about their lives in such a candid way. Involved with that are performances by these artists as well.

I suppose you've assembled a select house band for the event?

Yes. Gary Goin, who has been associated with me for more than 20 years, who is a known musician here, and has bands of his own that tour to casinos in other parts of the country, is the house band for this show. It's the Gary Goin Band. There'll be a ten piece band on that stage.

Will you be performing as well?

I'm not gonna be performing. I'm the host of the event. I interview people, though I talk about my career, certainly. Some of my material is performed and showcased. But I'm just like Jimmy Fallon, except a lot of this involves friends of mine. For instance, Stevie Wonder is going to sing a tribute to William Bell. I'm gonna refresh people on the success and the magnitude of success that Ray Parker, Jr. has had in his career. People don't know. People don't know that one of the most accomplished songs in the songbook of America is “Ghostbusters”. They don't know that. They have no idea how well this man lives. Conversationally, it becomes extremely entertaining and informative for an audience to experience that. But then also to see that he's still performing is also special.

William Bell... very few people in this area know the magnitude of William Bell's success. They don't know that he had a record company in the 2000's that had a number one major record on the label that he started. And then he just won a Grammy this year. To be able to see a guy talk about his life and career and go through all that and get up on a stage and be able to perform in a quality way is a special thing. And then, how many people can see Stevie just sit on a couch and talk?

It has that personal dimension because you've known all these folks for years now.

Yes. Exactly. And see I'll also be showing them some information on a nonprofit that I started in 2012, and why I started it and why I wanted to give something back. And what it all means and why it's impacting lives and that whole thing. And so it's gonna be an entertaining show, I can tell you that.

Well darn, I was hoping to hear you perform something off [1974 Stax album] Victim of the Joke?

  • Porcelan
Ha ha! Well, I still could do that but no, this is not me performing. This is me just showcasing and talking about other talents. And also I have an artist who's on my new record label, Made In Memphis Entertainment (MIME): Porcelan, who is doing very well right now. She'll be performing. And she's a knockout. I mean she's a tremendous talent. She's a local Memphis talent who was performing with some of the booking agencies around here that have bands playing in the circuit for colleges and private parties and the like. And I heard about her and I wanted to hear her. Then I met her and was blown away. She's 26 years old, just a beautiful young lady and extremely talented. And so we created an artist development with her and now we've got a record, "The Real Thing Don't Change," that's getting noticed nationally. She's a Memphis kid, born here in Memphis, went to Westwood High School in Memphis.

So MIME is quite distinct from the Consortium MMT?

Without a doubt. MIME has a 16,000 square foot building at 400 Union. We have three recording studios, state of the art. We have a roster right now of four artists, we're gonna have as many as ten artists on our label. We just released the first record on Porcelan in September, we're getting ready to release her album, as well as two others, the first quarter of 2018. I'm very excited about this company. 
MIME headquarters
  • MIME headquarters

Additionally I'm just really really pleased about being able to do something as a give back with the Consortium. What we wanted to do, and I wanted to do, was give a significant give-back that could carry on well into the future. So I developed a nonprofit that dealt with giving aspiring songwriters, record producers and recording artists an opportunity to learn from many of us that have had success doing it, whereby they can incorporate whatever their natural instincts are into what they do with this additional knowledge, and use that part of it that complements what they're looking for. And so I started the program with a clearly focused emphasis on three areas: songwriting, recording and performing. And inside of that I developed a curriculum, for lack of a better word, that follows processes from A to Z with that.

It was not a profit center for me, I make no salary from it. Matter of fact, I started it with my own money. I got many of my friends who knew that I wanted to do this for the right reasons, and they were comfortable with giving their time to participate. So what I got them to do, I have 135 plus videos of some of the biggest names out there, talking about the steps they use in their various processes. For instance, Valerie Simpson, her and her husband, Nick Ashford, of Ashford and Simpson, in addition to being great artists they were great songwriters. So Valerie is on film in our catalog, talking about her creative steps as a songwriter. Jimmy Jam, who produced Janet Jackson, is another example. I have him on video talking about his steps in producing records. And what he does in order to make that effective. I have Philip Bailey, of Earth, Wind and Fire, talking about what artists need to do not only to preserve their voices, but to reinforce their voices in a more credible way to last through a long career in this business.

And the talents in the program, they have to do independent studies to show what they've learned. And then I sit down and talk with them individually about how their progress has gone, and if we feel that they could be a credible reflection of the talent pool that's coming out of our area, we then lobby other record companies and music publishers to come look at these talents. We don't sign any artists, they're free to do whatever they wanna do with their music, and who they associate with. But we just try to better prepare them to be more effective. And the program is really impactful on young folks. In a really emotional way. I don't wanna sound like people crying and that kinda thing, but it's really like that because it's really impacting people.

David Porter and Friends takes place on Saturday, November 11, 2017, at Horseshoe Tunica’s Bluesville Showcase Nightclub in Tunica, 8:00 pm.

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Super Drummer Hunt Sales Descends On DKDC

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 12:13 PM

Hunt Sales on the drums.
  • Hunt Sales on the drums.

In 1989, I was a young, hardcore David Bowie fan. I had my mind blown by the "Ashes to Ashes" video on Night Flight, had worshipped at the feet of "Let's Dance", and even had the "Jazzin' for Blue Jean" video on VHS. In my high school years, I drifted over to The Cure, The Smiths, The Replacements, and R.E.M., and from there to classic punk: Sex Pistols, The Clash, etc. Then, when I had started college, Bowie forms a band called Tin Machine and put out a record that sounded like nothing else he had ever done. It was big, noisy, and raunchy, all guitar and ponding drums. The first track, "Heaven's In Here", that left an indelible impression on me. It started as a fairly conventional rocker, but as the song progressed, the drumming became more outlandish and inscrutable to my 18-year-old ears. It wasn't a drum solo, per se, but something more profoundly mind changing. The drummer seemed to be able to disintegrate and reintegrate the beat at will. I literally couldn't make heads or tales of it, and that was awesome to me. Throughout the album, the drumming was thick and muscular, yet impossibly nimble. This guy was hearing things I simply couldn't. Check out this live cut from 1990 where the band floats effortlessly from "Heaven in Here" to Slim Harpo's "King Bee" and back again.

Tin Machine turned out to be too far ahead of its time even for Bowie, who later called the project an artistic success but a commercial failure. Three years later, Nirvana hit big with a ramshackle yet powerful sound strikingly similar to Tin Machine. it was no coincidence. Cobain and company were listening to The Pixies, Sonic Youth, and other acts from the American alternative underground—the same stuff Bowie had been listening to in 1989. The drummer for Tin Machine, I later learned, was Hunt Sales, and the bassist was his brother Tony. It wasn't the first time they had worked with Bowie. Back in 1977, the Sales brothers were the rythmn section for the second album Bowie produced with Iggy Pop. In that session, Hunt Sales produced one of the most instantly recognizable beats of the rock era:

Hunt Sales had a long and distinguished career before he hooked up with the Bowie/Pop axis. His father was legendary TV comedian Soupy Sales, who also happened to be a huge jazz fan and exposed his kids to drummers like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. He did Todd Rundgren's first two albums and toured relentlessly with a variety of acts throughout the 70s and 80s. He did a stint in Nashville before moving to Austin and playing with Charlie Sexton.

Sunday night, November 12, one of the greatest drummers of the rock era is going to pound the skins at Bar DKDC. Hunt Sales and Friends will play with Memphis' six string assassin Dave Cousar (along with bassist Landon Moore, horn players Jim Spake and Art Edmaiston, and Memphis Flyer music editor Alex Greene on keys) at 9:00 PM. It promises to be a hell of a show, so get ready to get your mind blown by percussion.

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

African Jazz Ensemble and the Rhythms of Freedom

Posted By on Sat, Nov 4, 2017 at 1:00 PM

African Jazz Ensemble - JAMIE HARMON
  • Jamie Harmon
  • African Jazz Ensemble

The African Jazz Ensemble may be the best kept musical secret in Memphis. Founded over two decades ago by Ekpe Abioto, they've forged a hybrid blend of influences with an impressive roster of players, many springing from the Memphis high school scenes of Melrose, East, Booker T. Washington, and Manassas. In anticipation of their show tomorrow afternoon at the Harbor Town Amphitheater, I spoke with Abioto about how the group has evolved and the message they're trying to get across.

Memphis Flyer: So you've been doing the African Jazz Ensemble 25 years. I imagine you've had some personnel changes over time.

Ekpe Abioto: Yeah, there was a vibraphonist here, by name of Ron Williams. He played with me and he died like twenty years ago. And then I recently met DeAnte Payne who's 19 years old and studying at the Univ of Memphis right now. He's been been playing vibraphone with us since we first met. And when my friend Dywane Thomas, Sr. got back from Italy — he lived in Italy for about 17 years — he started playing bass with us.

Yeah I know his son a little bit, MonoNeon. And Dywane Thomas, Sr.'s dad was supposedly a heck of a piano player.

Yeah, Charles Thomas. Yes. So he schooled Donald Brown and James Williams and all those guys, you know. I think it was 2000 when Charles died. Anyway, I play sax, flute, African percussion and Kalimba. Another saxophone player is James White. Three of us were in high school together. We were in a group back in the day. It started out as Exotic Movement and we got a record contract and it changed to Galaxy. So we started out playing together back during that time. And when it was Exotic Movement we had some other members. Kirk Whalum was in the group. We were all in high school. Blair Cunningham. He came from a family of drummers out of South Memphis, Booker T Washington. Anyway, he left and went to Europe and toured with Paul McCartney for a while. That was the original Exotic Movement.

As far as African Jazz Ensemble is concerned, the influence comes from my upbringing and listening to Afro-Caribbean music, African music — Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela from South Africa, Guy Warren out of Ghana. That was the music that I was raised up with in my household with my older siblings. You know I'm the youngest of 14, so I was greatly influenced by the music that my older siblings brought into the household. And even when I was doing more popular stuff with Galaxy and everything, that African theme was always there running through.

Even Memphis music, the rhythm of Stax, the rhythm of Hi, really that's African music. The rhythm of the blues — WC Handy even talks about it. He said the blues originated from African music, certain rhythms. He talks about it in his autobiography.

What are some other influences?

We do some Coltrane, we do some Nina Simone, we do some Leon Thomas.

I saw where you recently did a tribute to A Love Supreme. That must have been quite an undertaking.

Yes, that's one of our staples because the whole thing is about presenting love. That's what we do with our music. You know there's an African proverb that says 'music has the power to heal or kill'. That applies to some of this hip hop music today. Even rap originated in Africa. Now rap is being used lately in a negative way. But Skinny Pimp, and some of those original Memphis rappers from back in the day, in the '80s, they're coming around now and doing a positive CD addressing the issue of the violence. And I love that. I'm saying that because we do “A Love Supreme,” and it's just a way to present love, and address the hatred that is happening within the community. I would say both in the black community and in the community at large.

The music is the thing. That's why we open up with that African song, a straight African drum rhythm song, and then we go into “A Love Supreme,” that's our opening. And we get the audience involved with a call and response chant. That's our way of letting people know that's what we're here for.

This is what I tell people. Because of slavery, we couldn't play drums, you know. It was against the law. All this goes back to Haiti, with Toussaint L'Ouverture, where they were using music of African culture and African traditions to lift their spirits to fight their oppressor. So from the slave masters' perspective, anything that was African was suppressed.

That's why that stigma is still embedded in the culture of the South, in terms of the supremacy of the South. That's exactly why I'm doing what I'm doing, because of that mentality. It's time to get rid of that slave mentality. Whether it's white supremacy or black inferiority.

We have to move forward. Sometimes you gotta go backwards to move forward. It's about freedom, the African Jazz Ensemble represents freedom. It's about freeing yourself from what ever cultural bias. It's about freedom and that's what the drums in Africa represent. They represent resisting slavery, about unity, it's about all of those things. Going back to what Coltrane did, songs that he did later on, it was about freeing himself up. That's what it was about. Musical freedom and community and a love supreme. It's for everybody, it's for all ages, all ethnicities. When people hear it and they feel it, it's like 'Wow, so this is what freedom feels like.'

The African Jazz Ensemble is:
Ekpe Abioto - kalimba, flute, saxes, African drums/ percussion
John Black- guitar, percussion
Bluebian Durelle- trumpet, flugelhorn, valve trombone
Kennard Farmer- vocals, keyboard, percussion
Cequita Monique- vocals, percussion
DeAnte Payne- vibraphone, keyboard, percussion
Reginald Taber- djimbe, congas, percussion
Dywane "Tarif" Thomas- bass guitar, percussion
Melvin Turner- congas, percussion
James "Black" White- saxes, Flute, percussion

African Jazz Ensemble w/ Moticos, River Series at the Harbor Town Amphitheater, Nov. 5 at 3 pm.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Ghost Note hits Memphis with Native Son MonoNeon

Posted By on Fri, Nov 3, 2017 at 3:22 PM

Bassist MonoNeon has built up quite a following here in his hometown, especially for someone who performs only rarely. Those familiar with his viral videos will be happy to hear that he'll actually be playing live in Memphis tomorrow night, with the group Ghost Note. Judging from their press, it will make for an intriguing evening: “This is music that takes listeners on a mind-blowing journey, inspired by the influences of James Brown, J Dilla, and the Beastie Boys, all the way to folkloric West African, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian samba grooves.”

Snarky Puppy fans should also rejoice, as the group is essentially a side project for two stalwart members of the internationally acclaimed combo. Robert "Sput" Searight plays drums and Nate Werth plays percussion in the more famous group, but with Ghost Note, their kitchen-sink approach to experimental instrumental tracks makes those attributions seem obsolete. Ghost Note really is dedicated to fresh sounds, with samples and live playing mixed freely to create unique soundscapes that are both quirky and funky.

  • Photograph by Justin Fox Burks
  • MonoNeon
How appropriate, then, that they recruited MonoNeon for their current second album. No stranger to the strange, he is also consummately funky and percussive. When I spoke to him for this summer's feature story, he said a few words about the project. “I'm with a band called Ghost Note. That's like a side project of Snarky Puppy. We just recorded an album, I think it's supposed to be released this year in October. I wrote one song on the album, it's called 'Milkshake'. 'Cos I like milkshakes. And I primarily play guitar on it, for some reason. I don't know. I really don't consider myself a guitar player. I'm more of a rhythm guitar player. And that's what I got from Prince. I started working on my guitar. His rhythm guitar playing is so ... it's just amazing.” 
See The Nth Power/Ghost Note/MonoNeon at 1884 Lounge, Nov. 4th at 8 pm.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Shangri-La goes to La-La Land

Posted By on Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 5:08 PM


With the annual Sweatfest and Purgefest — and last April’s special election-year edition, Fool Fest — local record store Shangri-La Records has grown a quirky and enduring series of family-friendly music-festival-meets-record-sale events. And this Saturday’s fall sale is a birthday tribute to Lori McStay, wife of Shangri-La co-owner Jared McStay and a musician in her own right.

Affectionately known as La La, Lori has been out of Memphis for the most recent editions of Shangri-La’s festivals, so this year’s one-time-only tribute, dubbed La La Fest, will reunite an array of her old bands and projects. Yacht-rockers Relentless Breeze and ’80s hits aficionados the Cassette Set will continue their battle of the bands for the hotly contested title of Catchiest Midtown Group. The Ultracats (featuring local guitar hero Alicja Trout), the Villains (with Forrest Hewes and Tripp Lamkins), and the Glitches (featuring Robby Grant) are among the groups reuniting for the Saturday afternoon festival, and the star-studded lineup will include special guests Graham Winchester, Kelley Anderson, and James Godwin.

Over the years, Shangri-La’s record preview parties, record release shows, and one-day festivals have provided a chance to catch rare and intimate performances and special reunion shows by Memphis artists. The local store has hosted record-release concerts for Memphis heavy hitters such as Stax soul sultans Southern Avenue and blues-rockers the Dirty Streets. Tonight, Shangri-La hosts a pop-up listening party to celebrate the release of Julien Baker’s anticipated new album, Turn Out the Lights. Each concert or mini-festival at Shangri-La is a unique event, not likely to be replicated again. And at a time when content is expected be created and consumed constantly, in a city where bands perform every night of the week, the little record store has built a tradition as a curator of not just physical media but also special one-time-only occasions. La La Fest is sure to add to that tradition.

Performances will take place Saturday, October 28th, in the Madison Avenue record store’s parking lot, which McStay fondly refers to as Shangri-La Stadium, and the event will include discounts on all merchandise in the store.

Shangri-LALA Fest, Saturday, October 28th at 2 p.m. at Shangri-La Records. Free.

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Hell on Earth: A Memphis Tradition Returns

Posted By on Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 4:36 PM

Misti Lombardi
  • Misti Lombardi

My memories of Hell on Earth, Misty White’s Halloween institution, are hazy, yet visceral: Observing Tav Falco as he morphed into a deadpan caricature of Charlie Chaplin while leading the Panther Burns through a chugging interpretation of an old rockabilly hit; standing, enchanted, as I watched Neighborhood Texture Jam perform surgery on a sex doll stuffed full of dog food; gazing at Bob X’s perfectly wrought florescent posters while Jim Duckworth’s guitar cacophony wailed in the background.

For me, the pinnacle of Hell on Earth was the early 1990s, when it was de rigueur to drop a tab of LSD or gorge on pot brownies as the circus went on around me. Hell on Earth typically drew together the best—and worst—of Memphis music, with stellar homegrown talents like Alex Chilton and Luther Dickinson sharing the stage with one-off groups that disbanded as quickly as they formed. Plywood Doghouse, anyone?

From her home in Toulouse, France, White—now known as Misti Lombardi—says that her favorite Hell on Earth moment was that Neighborhood Texture Jam performance, dubbed “Unnecessary Surgery.”

Other favorite memories include “wiping entrails on the leg of Steve Selvidge’s velvet bell bottoms while he was playing!” says Lombardi, herself a veteran of iconic Memphis bands the Hellcats, Alluring Strange, and the Zippin Pippins. “[And] when Al Kapone played, all the Admiral Fishdart appearances… Hell on Earth 4, when Reverend Horton Heat played, and he wore my halo later.”

This week, Lombardi is returning to her adopted home of Memphis—she was raised in Arkansas and moved here with her twin, Kristy White, when they were teenagers—to reprise Hell on Earth at Bar DKDC on Sunday night.

She’s been in Toulouse for several years, after meeting and marrying Philippe Lombardi, a French musician and producer who passed away unexpectedly in 2016.

At Hell on Earth, Lombardi will perform with her old Hellcats bandmates Lorette Velvette and Su Hartline, Panther Burns drummer Ross Johnson, Velvette’s husband and Memphis Flyer music editor Alex Greene, Jonny Ciaramitaro, and another one-time Memphian now residing in France, Harlan T. Bobo.

Lombardi’s been working with Bobo in Toulouse at a recording studio called Swampland, where they’re putting the finishing touches on Worth the Wait, an album Lombardi started recording with her late husband three years ago. The album, engineered by Lo Spider, is expected for release at Christmas on her new label, Misty White Music.

Hell on Earth takes place at Bar DKDC at 964 S. Cooper this Sunday, October 29, from 10 pm to 1 am.

Mike McCarthy's film, Destroy Memphis, featuring extensive footage of the Zippin Pippins, will screen tonight at Malco's Studio on the Square, 7:00 pm. Misti Lombardi will perform before the film.)

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Monday, October 23, 2017

The Anti-Group: U.S. Premiere of Electro Pioneers

Posted By on Mon, Oct 23, 2017 at 4:58 PM

Adi Newton
  • Adi Newton
The historical moment that gave us punk rock was actually a series of minor aesthetic explosions that produced any number of unpredictable musical adventures. In bringing the group X__X to town, Gonerfest 14 just celebrated one such explosion that occurred around Cleveland in the late '70s. Meanwhile, in Sheffield, England around the same time, another take on revolution was fomenting. Clock DVA was part of a movement that included Cabaret Voltaire and Heaven 17, but never achieved the commercial heights of those groups, probably because of their more industrial sound. Ultimately, Clock DVA co-founder Adi Newton, who approached his electronic experiments as “research,” struck out on his own with a more open-ended, collaborative project known as The Anti-Group. Making music consisting primarily of layered electronic noise and haunting tonalities over bass pulses, not necessarily underpinned with drum machine rhythms, The Anti-Group, aka The Anti-Group Communications (TAGC), played out more like studies in psycho-acoustics than pop entertainment.

All the more remarkable, then, that TAGC, not unlike X__X, continues to have legs. Though electronic music permeates nearly every corner of life now, it tends to fall into the same over-worn dance patterns. The search for the uncanny, which flourished when the genre was in its infancy, has dwindled as the sounds themselves become more pedestrian. Not so with the Anti-Group. The collective presents it's expeditions into the territories of noise and tone with carefully thought-out dynamics that suggest classical compositions.

Given the renaissance of electronic weirdness that the Mid-South is experiencing these days, perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that Memphians will have the chance to hear the Anti-Group in real time tomorrow at the Amurica gallery space, as they begin their first American tour. Luís Seixas, who curates the electronic music label Thisco, based in his hometown of Lisbon, has seized the moment of Newton's recent spate of touring to bring the pioneer to Memphis. While this would be remarkable in New York, Paris, London, or Munich, it is doubly so in what many call “the largest small town in America.” While our city has long been considered the home of independent-minded musical pioneers, we can only hope that such a sense of adventure brings out fans of truly cutting-edge sonic explorations this Tuesday.

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Chris Phillips benefit

Posted By on Mon, Oct 23, 2017 at 1:41 PM

  • Michael Donahue
  • Racquets

Racquets, FreeWorld, The Sheiks and Pop Ritual will perform from 6 to 9 tonight at ChrisCrosswalk Benefit at The Blue Monkey, 2012 Madison.

Chris Phillips, who was a server at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, was killed in an auto accident while crossing Madison near the Blue Monkey, said David Hacking, who worked with him at the restaurant.

The event is to raise funds for a crosswalk to be built where Phillips was killed, said Hacking, who is lead singer/guitarist in Racquets. “City of Memphis approved a crosswalk,” Hacking said. “This is basically raising funds. We’ve raised $2,000 and we need $2,000 more.”

The crosswalk is slated to include a caution light and a speed limit drop, Hacking said.

Donations will be taken at the door or online at

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Week's Tribute to Jimmie Lunceford

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 3:32 PM

Ron Herd II is a man with a mission, and a very Memphi-centric one at that: to honor the memory of the great jazz band leader, Jimmie Lunceford. Although not a native Memphian, Lunceford was one of the first to put the city's music on the map when he transformed the Manassas High School band, which he directed, into a crack jazz unit with whom he ultimately toured the country and cut scores of records.

Herd has regularly paid honor to Lunceford every June by holding ceremonies on the band leader's birthday at his grave site in Elmwood Cemetery. But this year he's ramping it up with an entire week of events memorializing Lunceford and his contributions to music.
In addition to panel discussions and a film screening, the week will be punctuated with concerts featuring Lunceford's music. Much to Herd's credit, his annual events have always encouraged local musicians to join in any performances with their own instruments, and this new tribute week is no different. Concerts scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday of next week will be open to any musician who thinks they can hold their own with the players celebrating an era when Jimmie Lunceford was king. Below is a schedule of planned events. Be sure to check Herd's website for updates on venues which are as yet to be determined.
  • Kickoff at Manassas High School–Monday, October 23, 2017, 12:45 pm-2:15pm

  • "Memphis Rhythm Was His Business: A Jimmie Lunceford Discussion." Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 @ Benjamin Hooks Public Library, Memphis Room, 4th Floor. (6:00pm- 8:00 pm).
    Panel Discussion: Moderator:  Melvin Massey; Panelists:  Ronald Herd, II, Seth Taylor, Carla Thomas, Elaine Turner, Dr. John Bass, Dr. James Gholson, Dr. Reverend Kenneth Whalum, Jr,  Dr.  Bill Hurd, and Phillip Joyner

  • 2017 Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival Homecoming Court. Announcement of King and Queen/Prince and Princess along with court recognition – Old Daisy Theatre, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017 (6:30 pm, reception at 6:00 pm)

  • “Blues in the Night” Movie – Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Thursday, October 26, 2017 @ 6 pm–9 pm; (arrive early and be seated before 6:30 on a first come, first serve basis with movie passes). 
    Also: a 10 minute short film featuring The Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra and a panel discussion.  Moderator:  Jackie Murray; Panelists:  Ronald Herd, II, Phillip Joyner, Steve Lee, Dr. David Acey, and Ekpe Abioto

  • Jimmie Lunceford Jazznocracy Art Show/Talk & Jam Session (tentative) during Trolley Night – Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 (6 pm - 9 pm)

  • Jimmie Lunceford & The Future Of The Memphis Sound: Panel Discussion,  Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017 — Cossitt Public Library @ 12 noon 33 S Front St, Memphis, TN 38103

  • Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Jazznocracy Concert, Oct. 28, 2017 (location tbd).

  • Jimmie Lunceford Tribute Finale @ Brinson's, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017 4pm-7pm.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Butthole Surfers and Bad Seeds Salute the Man in Black

Jocephus and the George Jonestown Massacre play a CD release party Friday, Oct. 20

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 5:45 PM

Here's Johnny...
  • Here's Johnny...
If "leave 'em wanting more," is still sound advice in show business this 4-track Johnny Cash tribute CD 5-Minutes to Live is the new gold standard, uniting old punks like Buzz Osborne of the Melvins and Warren Ellis of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds with original Tennessee Three drummer W.S. Holland.

Tribute records can go a lot of different ways. This is a loving take on  some well-worn, and more obscure material that cleaves harder than you might expect to tradition with lazy, sawing fiddles, bright rhythm guitars and crisp clean Luther Perkins-inspired leads that ring out over Holland's steady mid-tempo shuffles. It's just good country music at the edge of rock-and-roll with Josephus and the George Jonestown Massacre standing in as house band.

Butthole Surfer JD Pinkus kicks things off with a lean, mean completely satisfying run through "The Losing Kind" and Nick Cave collaborator Mick Harvey follows up with a similarly convincing performance of the title track.  These are all appetizers in advance of Bad Seed Warren Ellis who dusts off the hard honky tonk-ing tale of obsessive love gone wrong, "The Sound of Laughter."

Then things start to get a little weird.

It's heresy, I know, but I've always been partial to Lefty Frizzll's take on "Long Black Veil." It's so lonely — so much more haunting than the also great Cash version. Both may be at least temporarily supplanted by the 5-Minutes to Live version featuring both Ellis and Osborne. Its primitive, traditional core is given just enough noise and spooky drone to make it perfect Halloween season listening.

This project was brought together by GJM's Joey Killingsworth who also spearheaded the considerably more ambitious, and seriously fun Mutants of the Monster, a tribute to Black Oak Arkansas with performances by a variety of go-your-own-way artists including Eddie Spaghetti and Jello Biafra. Taken together, 5-Minutes to Live is a textbook example of less is more.

5-Minutes to Live is released nationally Friday, October 20 on Saustex Records. Joecephus & The George Jonestown Massacre are playing a CD release show at RockHouse Live (Midtown) with Old Coldbloods and Luke John.  100% of the door goes to FSH Society for FSH Muscular Dystrophy Research. $5 Cover

More show details here.

Soulsville USA Festival Lights Up McLemore Ave.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 4:56 PM

If you're like me, you'll jump at any chance to see the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, especially if it's free. This past Monday, after punk rocker Jon Langford and the Four Lost Souls played a free show there, he and the band waxed enthusiastic about their first visit to the museum. Legendary session bassist Norbert Putnam, who produced the Four Lost Souls' debut record and joined the band for the show, reminisced about recording with Elvis Presley for five days in 1973, the highlight being when the King joined Norbert on the drum riser to eat his burger and fries during a midnight lunch break. But even a veteran like Putnam was awestruck during his return to Stax after 44 years. “All those records on the wall!” he enthused to the crowd. “They were working nonstop!”

This Saturday, Stax will celebrate its place in the city's (and the nation's) past, present, and future with a day long festival. The Soulsville USA Festival will be happening at the corner of McLemore and College from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Three stages will offer a diverse array of music (click here to see the full line up). Naturally, one of the featured acts will be students from the Stax Music Academy, some of whom toured England this summer, joining Stax legends Mavis Staples and William Bell onstage there.

Candice Ivory
  • Candice Ivory
Another performer of note that afternoon will be Candice Ivory, a composer and singer who cut her teeth playing around Memphis before heading east to study jazz at the New School in New York. Now based in St. Louis, Ivory is a purveyor of what she calls “avant soul,” an intriguing blend of jazz and electronic experimentation, with a large dollop of her soulful vocals.

The festival will not only celebrate Stax itself, but other musically significant residents of the neighborhood. In addition to the “Stax 60 Stage,” there will be a “Royal 60 Stage,” in honor of Royal Studios, who, like Stax, are celebrating six decades of history this year. And the “Memphis Slim Stage” will be set up next door to Stax, outside the Memphis Slim Collaboratory, a cutting-edge space for community music education that also supports local musicians. Named after the blues piano legend who was born and raised in the same building, it offers spaces for rehearsing, recording, and performing. One notable program provides funding for artists to record and release their material. Their first success story, Eric Hughes, will be celebrating his band's debut CD Saturday evening at 7:00 at The Warehouse.

Other highlights of the festival will be: a) free museum entry and educational activities; b) the ARTent with demos from an array of visual artists; c) Knowledge Quest Kids Zone with games, face-painting, caricature drawings, and other activities; d) interactive ballet, contemporary, jookin/b-boy, and stepping dance demos on the dance stage. And on top of all that, there will be crafts vendors & food trucks.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Jon Langford: Welsh Punk Explores the Soul of the South

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 6:53 PM

Recently I spoke with Jon Langford, founding member of the punk/post-punk British group the Mekons, not to mention other, more country-influenced bands like the Waco Brothers and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, about his latest project, Four Lost Souls. With their debut album out just a few weeks ago, they'll be playing at the Stax Museum on Monday, and, as it turns out, bringing a bit of the Muscle Shoals sound back to Memphis. He had some thoughtful words about working in the South, and writing about the region for this new album.

Memphis Flyer: How did the Four Lost Souls come about?
Jon Langford: Well the story of the album initially is that I did some work for the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. And they just asked me to do a painting to illustrate that exhibit they had: Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City. That exhibit wasn't really about Dylan and Cash. It was about honoring all those guys who were the session musicians, and made such a contribution in the sixties. And kind of reviving the history, so it showed how, you know, the myth is that Dylan went down there and turned all these guys on to the kinda hip new ways, but he went down there because those guys were already hip.

Norbert Putnam and Jon Langford
  • Norbert Putnam and Jon Langford
One of the guys was Norbert Putnam, who was in the original Muscle Shoals rhythm section, and then moved up with David Briggs to Nashville, and he was one of the people they honored at the exhibit. He had subsequently moved back to Muscle Shoals and he was in the same hotel as me. The weird thing was, I did the illustrations for the show, and then they asked me if I'd be interested in singing at the opening ceremony. So I was like, "Yeah, I'll do that!" Ha ha.

So they flew me down, put us in a hotel, and Norbert was in the same hotel. And he played bass for me, and David Briggs played piano. Lloyd Green played steel guitar. Mac Gayden and Wayne Moss played guitar. Randy McCormick played harmonica. It was ... I felt a little humbled by the whole experience, but afterwards I had a drink with Norbert and he said, "You should come down to Muscle Shoals and make an album. In fact what he said was, 'You sing like a pirate,' is what he said.

And I said 'What would I do in Muscle Shoals?' and kinda went away and thought about it. And I told Tawny Newsome about it, whose been singing with me with Skull Orchard for quite a while. And then we'd been plotting on doing something with her friend Bethany Thomas as well. And it seemed to fit: to go down to Muscle Shoals and do a project which addressed sort of our love and disdain for the South. You know, love the culture, hate the history, sort of thing. Bethany knew a guitar player named John Szymanski, and I gave her the 'pirate songs', she took them away and poked them with a long stick to see if there was anything there...

Also, John Semansky is incredibly physically attractive, so we thought we should get him in the band as well.
John Szymanski, Bethany Thomas, Jon Langford, and Tawny Newsome  of Four Lost Souls
  • John Szymanski, Bethany Thomas, Jon Langford, and Tawny Newsome of Four Lost Souls
So the four of us went to Muscle Shoals. Norbert said he'd put the band together. So then we took Pete Finney, since he was kind of a common link, since he knew Norbert, and he was involved in the exhibit at the CMHOF. So it was kind of a Chicago/Nashville/Muscle Shoals conglomerate in the end. But we had David Hood playing the bass. Initially, I thought Norbert was gonna play the bass, but he goes, 'No I think I'll just produce; I'll get David Hood to play the bass.' Which was pretty wild, considering the number of records I have with David Hood on them.

Was the songwriting collaborative?
Yeah, the concepts for the songs... A lot of the lyrics were written when I was in Nashville. And that was around the time I met Norbert and I thought maybe I should do this, and if I do this, what would it be about? I sort of thought it should be about my relationship with the South. I've been traveling quite a bit in the South. I go to New Orleans a lot. I go to Nashville quite a lot also. I've gone to Oxford, MS a few times and I had some thoughts about that place. You know, I live in Chicago, which is a very different vibe, politically. And it was interesting to think about what attracted me to America in the first place, why I ended up in America. The culture and all that music that I love, rock and roll music, jazz, and blues and country music. All that stuff came out of the South, you know. And then finding out that the South is kind of the bloody terrible history. What's the right word? I have an ambivalent relationship with the South. It's not really ambivalent, it's like something more extreme. Sort of a love hate relationship. But you can't have one without the other. And I was trying to write songs about that. The dark history. I was writing them while that kind of Trump thing was brewing up, but I didn't think he'd actually become elected. But, and then the week we went down, the songs were finished and we were going to go and record them. And he got elected. It was kind of like, "Wow." In the months since that, in the year since that, we've seen the fucking, you know, all the graves opened and all the zombies crawl out, so I just ... it's pretty, I don't know, it makes the album quite pertinent to me.

I'm glad I wrote it when I did. I'm glad we were doing it before the election, put the songs together, rather than afterwards.

So it was almost serendipity that you were going into the darker themes of the South just as...
Yeah, they were unavoidable for me on one level, but then, I don't know. I might have been, if I'd written stuff after the Trump election it might have been just too obsessed with him or something. And I think, frankly, he's just a symptom of an underlying rot that's going on in this country. Where the weight of money and consolidation of money and power that institutions obviously can't even really withstand. So...we don't really live in a democracy anymore. And what we do live in is gonna get worse and worse for all the normal people. He's just a symptom of that. But the history of the South is like, it's very telling, his unwillingness to denounce the KKK and white supremacists. I talk about Confederate Statues in the songs, and the fact that he thinks, "They take down Robert E. Lee, what are they gonna do next, take down George Washington?" The Union actually won the Civil War, and you have a president that doesn't actually know that. You know, it's like we lost. Ha ha. You'd never know it now, would you? It's just a big national misunderstanding and now it's all resolved! And the South won!

Musically I find the album really interesting. Getting back to the positive qualities of the South. I'm hearing a lot of Percy Sledge, kind of country soul.
Right. Well, that's Muscle Shoals, mate! Yeah, I was conscious of that, and I think we all wanted it to not be some sort of imitation, like a tribute band thing, but just to take those influences on board, and it's kind of inevitable if you have David Hood playing. Things were gonna go in that direction. But Bethany and John took the songs early on, they took them away, and when they brought 'em back it was a very subtle push in that direction. It's a direction old Welsh punk rockers don't go too often!

Four Lost Souls play with guest Norbert Putnam at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music on Monday, Oct. 16 at 7:00 pm. Free, but tickets are required.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ponderosa Stomp Recap: 24 Hours in NOLA

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 5:28 PM

Andria Lisle, Vaneese Thomas, and Carla Thomas - ALEX GREENE
  • Alex Greene
  • Andria Lisle, Vaneese Thomas, and Carla Thomas

Although Ponderosa Stomp, the New Orleans-based love letter to lesser-known soul, blues, rockabilly, and garage artists, was cut short by the fizzled Hurricane Nate, the festival was hopping last Friday. Many of the performers and audience alike stayed at the Ace Hotel, where the daytime hours were filled with panel discussions and interviews as part of the event's Music History Conference. While vinyl junkies perused the record bins in a side room, and that evening's bands rehearsed in a closed space near the lobby, hundreds more filed through the hotel's main event hall to hear some history.

For those eager to hear personal tales of the music world, it was an embarrassment of riches. An early highlight was the panel dedicated to the late Billy Miller, visionary co-founder of Norton records. The label has released many Memphis treasures, from archival re-issues of rockabilly and Big Star to more recent works by the Reigning Sound. Miller passed away last year at the young age of 62, making this memorial panel an emotional one. His wife and partner, Miriam Linna, said that she was especially proud of his last labor of love, a collection of lost Dion tracks from 1965. The panel was moderated by the unflappable Michael Hurtt, of Royal Pendletons fame, also a musicologist in his own right.

Another Memphis panel featured Reggie Young, guitarist extraordinaire with Hi Records and American Studios. Young was not in the best health, but certainly of sound mind and body as he exchanged comments with moderator Red Kelly on the landmark singles and albums of his career, beginning with his first encounter with Jack Clement and Bill Black at the Memphis “Home for Incurables” in the 1950s. The success of the Bill Black Combo (who were known to wear “BBC” suit coats) led to tours with the Beatles, Kinks, and Yardbirds. When Kelly cued up James Carr's “The Dark End of the Street,” featuring Young's guitar work, the crowd gave the record a standing ovation. Similarly, upon hearing just the guitar break in Joe Tex's “Skinny Legs and All,” the crowd once again rose to applaud. Young also recalled taking a lunch break while recording with King Curtis. At the local diner, Curtis picked up a menu and began riffing on menu items in musical terms, including some “boiling Memphis guitar.” The group loved it so much, they skipped lunch and returned to the studio to cut “Memphis Soul Stew.”

Another fine panel tied to Memphis was Andria Lisle's discussion with Carla and Vaneese Thomas. They recounted their early love of the Teen Town Singers, and the pride they felt when Dave Clark, being dubbed “The World's Oldest Teenager” at an award ceremony, turned to kneel before Rufus Thomas as he looked on, saying that honor could only go to him. Carla also recalled writing songs just for fun as a teen, as her father recorded on a home reel-to-reel tape deck. One of these was a little tune called “Gee Whiz (Look at his Eyes),” the recording of which Rufus took down to Stax on a whim, launching her career.

When dusk settled on the Crescent City, festival goers migrated over to the Orpheum to see that evening's full roster of bands. It all kicked off with Billy Boy Arnold, who delivered a soft-spoken “I Wish You Would,” along with other blues. A swamp pop revue followed, featuring T.K. Hulin and G.G. Shinn, and the latter's “Harlem Shuffle” was galvanizing. Some fine, funky soul followed with Warren Storm and Willie West, but it was Winfield Parker who really brought the house down with his voice, an under-appreciated treasure of the soul genre.

It should be noted that a perplexing audio mix plagued much of the night, but every performer rose above it with aplomb. Barbara Lynn, a Stomp regular by now, was in fine voice and demonstrated some sublime guitar work. Archie Bell whipped the house into a frenzy, both with his “Tighten Up” and the lesser-known “Strategy,” which had him screaming “I'm soaking wet! I'm soaking wet” at the song's climactic chorus, perhaps in sympathy with the Gulf Coast being on the receiving end of Hurricane Nate.

Roy Head carried on over the full horn section rave up during “Treat Her Right,” another Stomp favorite. And then came the abrupt shift to cajun stomping music with Doug Kershaw, who was a little out of it, but sang with gusto every word of his hit that he could recall. “He’s got Muskrat hides hanging by the dozens/ Even got a lady Mink, a Muskrat’s cousin/ Got ‘em out drying in the hot, hot sun/ Tomorrow papa’s gonna turn ‘em into money.” It had the floor shaking with knee-slapping joy, and Kershaw's freestyle fiddling over the chord changes made the band sound almost psychedelic.

But the psychedelia was just beginning. Roky Erickson, who's reprise of 13th Floor Elevators cuts has been known to be spotty at other festivals, was completely on point this night, and the band supported him mightily. The chemistry in this band led “Dr. Ike,” festival organizer Ira Padnos, to exclaim that it was the closest thing he could imagine to seeing the Elevators themselves.

Finally, show closers the Gories hit the stage fast and furious, building a glorious wall of noise with minimalist, primitivist swagger. Again, the ferocious music rose above the sound mix and the house was gyrating to Mick Collins' blasts of noise guitar, soaring over the wiry groove of guitarist Dan Kroha and drummer Peggy O'Neill. For those Memphians who have long adulated this stunning band, it was a fine, gritty apotheosis to the night and the perfect melding of R&B, blues, punk, and unclassifiable parts and grease off the garage floor.

Alas, though Nate was a fizzle in the Big Easy the next day, a city curfew forced the cancellation of the second night's show. Although there was an impromptu concert in the Ace Hotel on Saturday afternoon, this did not include performances by Don Bryant or the Thomas sisters. Indeed, the Bo-Keys, crack soul band of the current era in Memphis music, didn't even make it to New Orleans due to bad weather or the threat of it.

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