Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Gonerfest 16 is Booked — In Every Sense of the Word

Posted By on Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 4:52 PM

The main outlines of this year's Gonerfest 16 have been known for some months now, but it wasn't until Friday that the full lineup was announced. It's the usual grab bag of stylistically unpredictable delights, with sound emanating from the garage, the squat, the lab, and everywhere in between. And something about this year's lineup has hit a demogaphic sweet spot, for ticket sales are through the roof. "We're already 100 tickets over where we finished last year," Eric Friedl tells me, implying that they might even sell out. Or, as the event website puts it, "We will make individual night tickets available if we have room — but it does not look like we will have room. Those Mummies have driven everyone crazy!"
"Those Mummies have driven everyone crazy!" - Goner spokesperson
  • "Those Mummies have driven everyone crazy!" - Goner spokesperson

Indeed, it appears to be a case of Mummies fever, possibly related to the virus behind zombification, but with a better back beat. Not to mention a heaping key-spoonful of Farfisa. Friedl assures me that Goner is doing the extra footwork required to ensure that a genuine Farfisa organ, essential to the band's sound, will be available for their gig. Since 1988, the band has presented a reliably lo-fi, weird and groovy sound for go-go-ers the world over. Though having technically broken up in 1992, their reunion shows since 2003 have only grown in popularity, and their debut album, which they refused to put on CD, has grown in stature. Considering that they play dressed as mummified corpses, one wonders if they still use the same bandage wrappings that they began with, or are they now high-end, rock-star-grade bandages? Only a visit to Gonerfest can answer that for sure.
Another highlight will be the pairing of the Oblivians with Mr. Quintron, who have collaborated on both the celebrated 1997 gospel-punk album, The Oblivians Play 9 Songs with Mr. Quintron, and on a standout track from 2013's Desperation, "Call the Police" (which also features Quintron's accomplice, Miss Pussycat). 

Many other surprises are in store as well, such as a separate appearance by Greg Cartwright's revival of the band he fronted between the Oblivians and the Reigning Sound, the Tip Tops. As is often the case, a healthy cluster of bands from New Zealand and Australia will also be on hand, including the much-anticipated 'all-girl' group from Australia, Parsnip.
Parsnip
  • Parsnip

GONERFEST 16


THURSDAY Sept 26
Opening Ceremonies at Cooper Young Gazebo- Free
5:30 Limes (Memphis, TN)

Thursday Night
Hi Tone
MC Bob McDonald (SF, CA)
Anthony Bedard (Leather Uppers / Icky Boyfriends / Best Show band)
Mitch Cardwell (MRR, Raw Deluxe Records, Budget Rock Festival)

1AM King Brothers (Osaka, Japan)
Midnight Simply Saucer (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)
11:15PM Trampoline Team (New Orleans, LA)
10:30PM Sweet Knives (Memphis, TN)
9:45PM Hussy (Madison, WI)
9PM Green / Blue (Minneapolis, MN)

FRIDAY September 27
AFTERNOON SHOW
At Memphis Made 1-6PM $10

5:00 Fuck (Memphis / SF)
4:15 Lenguas Largas (Tuscon, AZ)
3:30 Static Static (New Orleans, LA)
2:45 Vincent HL (Auckland, NZ)
2pm Kool 100s (Kansas City, MO)

Memphis Made Solo Stage
Performers to be announced

FRIDAY 6-8PM
Crosstown Arts
Miss Pussycat Art Show Opening
"The History Of Ancient Egypt" Puppetshow Performance
Free

FRIDAY NIGHT
Hi Tone $25
MC Sarah Danger (Baltimore, MD)
Tom Lax (Siltbreeze Records) & Byron Coley (Forced Exposure mag, Feeding Tube Records)

1 AM Oblivians w/Quintron (Memphis, TN / New Orleans, LA)
Midnight NOTS (Memphis, TN)
11:15 Thigh Master (Brisbane, Australia)
10:30 M.O.T.O. (Eastern Seaboard)
9:45 Richard Papiercuts et Les Inspecteurs (NYC, NY)
9PM Mallwalker (Baltimore, MD)

SATURDAY September 28
AFTERNOON BLOWOUT
Murphys $10

OUTSIDE
6pm Greg Cartwright & The Tip Tops (Asheville, NC)
5pm Resonars (Tuscon, AZ)
4pm Total Hell (New Orleans, LA)
3pm Dixie Dicks (Memphis, TN)
2PM Cindy (Auckland, New Zealand)

INSIDE
5:30 Michael Beach & The Artists (Melbourne, Australia)
4:30 Aquarian Blood (Memphis, TN)
3:30 Warm Leather (Auckland, NZ)
2:30 Tire (Memphis, TN)
1:30 Priors (Montreal, Canada)
1PM Opossums (Memphis, TN)

SATURDAY NIGHT
Hi Tone $25
MC Drew Owen (New Orleans, LA)
DJs Bazooka Joe (Slovenly Records) & Russell Quan (Mummies)

1AM Mummies (SF, CA)
Midnight Tommy & The Commies (Sudbury, Ontario, Canada)
11:15 Hash Redactor (Memphis, TN)
10:30 Giorgio Murderer (New Orleans, LA)
9:45 Parsnip ( Melbourne, Australia)
9PM Teardrop City (Oxford, MS)

SUNDAY September 29
Closing Ceremonies at Cooper- Young Gazebo - Free
2:30 PM Sharde Thomas & The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band

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U of M's Fall Schedule is a Classical Cornucopia

Posted By on Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 1:00 PM

University of Memphis' Sound Fuzion performs October 24th and November 1st.
  • University of Memphis' Sound Fuzion performs October 24th and November 1st.
The Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music's fall schedule of performances at the University of Memphis is a mix of concerts, recitals, and events with an emphasis on classical music (very loosely defined), but also with plenty of jazz and occasional dollops of pop, rock, and avant garde.

The 90th birthday of composer George Crumb will be celebrated at the U of M's Harris Concert Hall on October 22nd. - BECKY STAROBIN
  • Becky Starobin
  • The 90th birthday of composer George Crumb will be celebrated at the U of M's Harris Concert Hall on October 22nd.
Highlights include a George Crumb 90th Birthday Celebration with pianist Kevin Richmond performing in honor of the composer (October 22nd); the three-day Octubafest (October 16th-18th); the local Luna Nova Ensemble performing 20th-century works (September 16th); the East Coast Chamber Orchestra presented by Concerts International (October 23rd); and appearances throughout the semester by the U of M Wind Ensemble, the U of M Symphonic Band, Southern Comfort Jazz Orchestra, Memphis Reed Quintet, 901 Jazz Band, Sound Fuzion, University Singers, and others.

Many performances are free, even to non-students.

Go here for the complete schedule.

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Counting Down Elvis: His 100 Finest Songs Offers a Deep Appreciation

Posted By on Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 11:47 AM

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Here at the Flyer, we're all about the art of songwriting, as evidenced in our June 27th cover story, but we also appreciate what both the Rolling Stones and Alex Chilton told us: "It's the singer not the song." And surely no artist embodies that truism more than Elvis Presley, who wrote precious little during his career, but excelled at making others' handiwork his own.

Author Mark Duffett, Reader in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Chester in England, is no stranger to Elvis, and no stranger to Memphis. In 2017, he and Amanda Nell Edgar, Assistant Professor at the University of Memphis' Department of Communication and Film, organized the international conference New Perspectives on Elvis. They and the speakers they assembled were true fans of the King and Memphis generally, who's enthusiasm led them to delve deeper than your typical music journalist.

This was evident again this March, when the pair hosted a more wide-ranging conference, Balancing the Mix, wherein scholars and deep listeners dove into such topics as "Hip Hop Resistance Across Time and Space," "Justice from Blues to Soul," "Music and Erasure," and "Beyond the Music: The Sounds of the Street and Social Justice in Britain and France, 1970-1990."

The latter had an exploration of the U.K.'s Northern Soul movement, and associated indie zines, that would have made any Memphis vinyl nerd swoon. And presentations like "Pocahontas, Ira Hayes and Me: Popular Music and the fight for Native American Civil Rights," by Johnny Hopkins of Southampton Solent University, shed unaccustomed light on long-neglected pockets of musical resistance.

If that all sounds a bit ivory-towerish, I would only direct you to Duffett's study of the King, Counting Down Elvis: His 100 Finest Songs (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018), which is one of the most entertaining meditations on Elvis' work of the decade.

While many Elvis writers focus on one or the other phase of his career, this book is notable for its all-embracing appreciation of every stylistic shift the King made. Done in true countdown style, you will see many surprises along the way, including Duffett's choice of number one. But, as Duffett himself notes, the point is not so much the specific order but the dialogue that the list is meant to jump start. And along the way, we read some keen observations of the nuts and bolts of each number.

For starters, Duffett is remarkably thorough about the songwriters that supplied Elvis' material, especially in a book devoted primarily to an interpreter rather than composer of music. "They tried a new number by Giant, Baum, and Kaye," Duffett writes. "'Power of My Love' ranks in any Elvis compilation for the simple reason that it showcases him at his most masculine, adult, and sensual...it effortlessly bridges between the raw urgency of the Comeback Special and virile confidence of his early 1970s shows."

Duffett is well-versed in every phase and detail of Presley's career, allowing him to make free-ranging comparisons between songs. And, unlike many critics, he embraces the kitsch of Elvis in the 70s as something just as vital as "Good Rockin' Tonight."

Thus, we are treated to a deep reading of Elvis' version of "Let Me Be There," better known as a hit by Olivia Newton-John. "Compared to Newton-John's breezy rendering, Elvis' cover is a tour de force. The joy of community reigns supreme." And he notes that the song "was so cherished that he kept it in his live set on a fairly regular basis until early 1976. The 20 March 1974 Mid-South Coliseum recording was even dusted off to round out the first side of what became his last will and testament, the LP Moody Blue."

Clearly, this book takes into account many deep cuts that dabblers would miss. Indeed, it could be an invaluable companion to the excellent Elvis Radio on Sirius XM, hosted by the erudite Doc Walker. Duffett's writing, too, is impressively unaffected by the jargon and abstractions of the academy, making this a fun and entertaining read. Often, one is either an Elvis fan or one is not. But delving into the details with Duffett might make you sit up and listen to songs, and see sides of the King, you never knew were there.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"Black August" and Black Oppression

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 2:36 PM

Ronald Herd II, Najee Strickland, Jeanelle 'TBJ' Jones, and her daughter, Sonnet Rose.
  • Ronald Herd II, Najee Strickland, Jeanelle 'TBJ' Jones, and her daughter, Sonnet Rose.

“Black August” will explore the fight against black oppression through music, art, poetry, and dance.

“It’s a show that includes theater with all-original scripts I wrote, dance choreographed by me, and poetry,” says producer Jeanelle ‘TBJ’ Jones.

“Black August,” which will be held at 7 p.m. on August 17th at JamRackBar & Lounge at 630 Madison Avenue, also will feature guest artists.

“There is an actual resistance movement called ‘Black August,’” Jones says. “It’s a combination of freedom fighters and socio-political fighters who are against racial oppression.”

During August, events around the country focus on “different things that have happened, whether freedom fighters’ deaths or their births or different resistances and attacks against the community.”

Events around the country will highlight the Nat Turner Rebellion, the Haitian Rebellion, and anti-apartheid fighter Steve Biko.

Jones took some of those historical events and people and “created productions around them.”

Director and creative founder of Afrotense, Jones produces live shows and films. Her “Black August” will include “scenes about Black Lives Matter and a response to that. And some scenes about Michael Jackson: ‘What happened to the black Michael Jackson?’”

“Black-on-black crime” is one of the topics. “Sometimes we’ll ostracize black celebrities. We’ll put them on a pedestal, but do one thing wrong, and we’re ready to tell them they no longer have a black card.”

Also participating in “Black August” are Najee Strickland, who will feature paintings from his “Black Fist” series, and J. Bu$y, who will perform his cover to the song ‘Be Careful’ by Cardi B. “But it’s not anything that song is about,” Jones says. “It’s about Black Lives Matter and fighting racial oppression.”


Diamond Long will dance to “Neo-Fight,” a poem written by Jones. “A lot of people think because we don’t hear about lynchings and things like that anymore, that they don’t happen. But they happen all the time.”

Ronald Herd II will be the emcee or “elder host” of “Black August,” Jones says. “Some of the things we did not touch on - because it would be a three-hour show - he is going to mention and talk about. Enlighten the audience while he hosts the show.”

Tickets to “Black August” are $15 per person or two for $25 and are available at Eventbrite. For information, visit facebook.com/afrotensepresents.

Ricky Willis, Freddy Ledlips Hodges, and Julius Nathaniel Hunt are in "Black August."
  • Ricky Willis, Freddy Ledlips Hodges, and Julius Nathaniel Hunt are in "Black August."

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

From Continuum Fest to A Change of Tone, Crosstown Keeps It Edgy

Posted By on Wed, Aug 7, 2019 at 11:09 AM

Jenny Davis plays amplified cacti in John Cage's "Child of Tree" at the 2018 Continuum Fest - BEN REDNOUR
  • Ben Rednour
  • Jenny Davis plays amplified cacti in John Cage's "Child of Tree" at the 2018 Continuum Fest
While several cities have renovated former Sears, Roebuck & Company warehouses/retail centers, including Minneapolis, Atlanta and Boston, Memphis' own Crosstown Concourse may take the cake in terms of grounding such projects in community art projects and concerts. And, far from curating softball 'pops' concerts and blockbuster movies, Crosstown Arts, the nonprofit that jump started the local Sears building's revitalization in 2010, has kept the "urban" in its original vision of a "mixed-used vertical urban village."

In this context, urban means bringing to Midtown the kind of pioneering music that one might find at world-class halls like the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) or C4 Atlanta’s FUSE Arts Center.  With three venues, an artist fellowship program, a recording studio, a music film series, and other resources for local and international musicians (and other artists), Crosstown Arts has become one of the nation's premier centers of innovation.

Case in point: the upcoming Continuum Music Festival, now in its third year, which, in hosting events in the Crosstown Theater, the Green Room, and the East Atrium Stage, may make the fullest use yet of all the old retail center's environs. As a festival of new sounds, from experimental to electronic, classical to multimedia, Continuum is beyond most precedents in the local scene. Headlining is Project Logic, featuring local bass wunderkind MonoNeon, guitar virtuoso Vernon Reid (Living Colour), and drummer Daru Jones. The festival also features Opera Memphis' staging of the transgender-themed work As One, a chamber opera created by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell, and Kimberly Reed.

CROSSTOWN ARTS PRESENTS: CONTINUUM MUSIC FESTIVAL 2019 from Crosstown Arts on Vimeo.


The kick-off show on Thursday, August 15th features the Blueshift Ensemble playing compositions by longtime collaborators from the ICEBERG New Music collective and is to be held at Crosstown Brewing Company.The festival will also feature a Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel, a concert by multi-instrumentalist New Memphis Colorways, and a performance of Sarah Hennies' 'The Reinvention of Romance' by Two Way Street.

Finally, like any good gathering of the tribes, there will be many interactive workshops and talks: Sweet Soul Restorative (Yoga with Live Music); The Quest for the Perfect Pop Song; The Metaphysics of Sound; Sheltering Voices: Impactful Community Storytelling; Breaking Boundaries: The Music of ShoutHouse; and The Sounds of 'Starry Night:' Writing Music to Van Gogh's Masterpiece.

But Continuum is really only among many examples of the cutting edge curation of the Crosstown Concourse space going on now. In addition to last year's Mellotron Variations or this spring's Memphis Concrète electronic music festival, more ideas are percolating in the wings. For example, musical artists who are pushing the very boundaries of how concerts are experienced will be featured in next spring's A Change of Tone concerts.  
achangeoftone_2019_1080x1080-768x624.jpg

Four such shows are planned for April 18th-21st, 2020, but we don't yet know what we'll hear. Musicians of any genre are applying to be featured as we go to press, and may do so until September 10th of this year. Click here to submit a proposal.

One thing they all will have in common is thinking outside of the music box, or rather, outside of the venue. Subtitled "In/Out of Sync," the concerts will be organized around a weirdly specific, yet open ended theme: Musicians will “exhibit” their music for a listening audience over loudspeakers in one venue as they simultaneously perform it in another, creating a non-traditional listening experience.

With a live-feeds between The Green Room music venue and Crosstown Theater, audio from the latter will be piped over to the audience in The Green Room to listen to, as the musicians, out of sight, perform their original work live in the otherwise empty Crosstown Theater auditorium. The second feed will video-capture The Green Room audience for the performing musicians in the theater to see on a screen, so that they may virtually watch their audience as they play. With such technological feats, concert organizers hope the performers "might achieve a vivid and seemingly living omnipresence." As the organizers further expound:

Similar to the experience of being inside of a haunted house or abandoned building, this spectral approach to auditory perception will be, among other things, a sonic experiment in vulnerability. It will be an attempt to enhance and heighten the audio-sensory experience for the listener, and perhaps will intensify the presence and impact that music can have when our fight-or-flight response is instinctively activated, giving the sounds we hear the power to demand our full attention.

It's an embarrassment of riches, really, for those hoping to reimagine their sonic art. In fact, the many series at the Concourse may be remaking the musical arts as Crosstown Arts remade the empty shell of an abandoned retail center only a few short years ago. 

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Friday, August 2, 2019

Robert Earl Keen's Countdown to Christmas Comes to GPAC in December

Posted By on Fri, Aug 2, 2019 at 2:23 PM

robertearlkeen-ndp-rek-0719-pr-crop.jpg
As August appears and the kids brace themselves for the return to school, one thing looms large in their minds: Christmas vacation. Yes, they'll have many hours of homework, homeroom, and home games in store before then, but we know that it's the dream of a holiday break that keeps them going. And what applies to kids applies to parents and single folks too. In Amurica, it's never too early to dust off those Christmas decorations and start dreaming tinsel dreams.

The Germantown Performing Arts Center realizes this too, so today they've announced the holiday concert that keeps things real: Robert Earl Keen's Countdown to Christmas. Keen, of course, is the artist behind the all-too-real Christmas song of the not-quite dysfunctional American family, "Merry Christmas from the Family." It's worth a listen even if your stockings are yet hung with care, simply as a chronicle of what it means to be a modern extended family with, uh, issues.

With its good-natured evocation of everyday alcoholism, bland racial bias, and running out of tampons, it achieves, in the end, a kind of unsentimental sentimentality to which anyone who's had to listen to brother Ken's new wife Kay, who "talks all about AA," can relate. In fact, the song has resonated with audiences to such a degree since its release in 1994 that it's even spawned a sequel song and a book of the same name. It's in such demand that Keen has had to draw the line on when he'll perform it. "We get requests for it all year round," he's told NPR. "So, I had to create this rule, I call it the 'Linen Rule', where we don't play the song as long as you can wear linen. So it saves it and makes it fresh for the holiday season. So we start playing it around Labor Day and we play it on through the holidays. It's the big number particularly in December that we close with."
Of course, there's much more to Keen than this song. Having cut his teeth in the late-70s scene around Austin, Texas, he now has 18 albums worth of songs chronicling the foibles of everyday lives, much in the vein of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, and other masters of Americana. While they may not all be kid-friendly, they do resonate with the struggles and joys of everyday adults going through life with open eyes. It's a refreshing way to digest the holidays at GPAC, a couple days after the gifts are all unwrapped, but before we must face the onset of New Year's Day and the inevitable return to jobs and school that follows.

Countdown to Christmas, with Robert Earl Keen and opening act Shinyribs, Saturday, December 28, 8:00 PM, Germantown Performing Arts Center (GPAC)

Tickets on sale to general public at 10 AM on Friday, August 9. See website for information on artist pre-sales and GPAC subscriber pre-sales.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

"The George Klein Tribute Show" to be Held August 11th

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2019 at 2:28 PM

Jerry Williams and George Klein
  • Jerry Williams and George Klein

George Klein will be honored at “The George Klein Tribute Show” on August 11th at 4 p.m. at Lafayette’s Music Room.

It’s fitting that Klein will be honored during “Elvis Week.” He and The King were close friends from the 1950s until Elvis’ death in 1977.

Klein, who died February 5th at the age of 83, was a radio and TV personality. He was a deejay, had his own TV shows, made personal appearances seemingly everywhere, and was in Elvis movies, including “Jailhouse Rock.”

Jerry Williams, a friend of Klein’s for 71 years, put the show together. “He’s a Memphis icon,” Williams says. “He deserves it.”

The lineup includes Carla Thomas, Joyce Cobb, Merrilee Rush, T. G. Sheppard, Ronnie McDowell, Kelly Laing, Wendy Moten, William Bell, Royal Blues Band, and Jason D. Williams. “I didn’t get one ‘no.’ When I would call them, literally every one of them had their stories about George and what he meant to their career - from playing their first record to putting them on the TV show. No conversation was without tears.”

Williams says he could have had 100 people perform, but he stopped at 10.

He specifically picked the date for the show. “It’s on August 11th, the first Sunday of Elvis Week. And, you remember, George always had his events on the first Sunday of Elvis Week. That was sort of George’s day.”

Klein did 37 “George Klein and the Elvis Mafia” shows and 42 “George Klein Christmas Charity Shows,” Williams says.

Williams met Klein in the spring of 1948 “because of the Memphis Chicks baseball team.”

Klein was 11 and Williams was 8. “When the Chicks would start spring practice for the season, we would make 30, 35 cents a day. We would shag balls. We were batboys. We got to know all the guys.”

Their friendship continued after Williams moved to California in 1964 to manage Paul Revere & the Raiders.

And it continued after Williams returned to Memphis. “I came back in ‘69 and built Trans Maximus (TMI) Studios. And from that we had TMI Records.”

TMI was a success. “We stayed on charts at TMI for seven years without coming off. Steve Cropper was in charge of production.”

They cut records for Poco and Charlie Rich, among others. They also cut Jeff Beck’s Going Down album, which was Beck’s signature album with the title song written by Don Nix.

Klein played those albums on his radio show, Williams said. “Absolutely. He played every one of them. George was fabulous about playing anybody local. Anything recorded by local artists and by international artists who recorded in Memphis.”

He and Klein would talk daily after Williams permanently moved back to Memphis in 1971, Williams says.

“Somebody asked me, ‘What do you miss most about George Klein?’ I said, ‘George Klein.’ The reason is very simple. He was always a what-you-see-what-you-get kind of guy. No airs to George Klein.”

Klein “didn’t really know he was important to the world-wide music industry. Did you know he was the first person with a live broadcast show to put an African-American on live in Memphis? Fats Domino."

He also invited African-American couples to dance along with the white couples on his TV show, Williams says.

“George Klein was a special guy because he did things he thought were right at the time that the world thought was wrong. And he went across the grain.”

Williams will host the “The George Klein Tribute Show,” which will be a first for him. “This is not a wailing wall kind of thing. This is entertainment.”

And, he says, “This is not a sad occasion. This is 10 acts who loved George.”


Tickets to “The George Klein Tribute Show” are $50. VIP tickets, which includes a “swag bag,” are $100. Tickets may be purchased at Lafayette’s Music Room. For more information, call (901) 207-5097 or go to lafayettes.com/mwmphs/event-tickets/


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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

DittyTV Steps Up To Major Radio Markets & Beyond

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 5:48 PM

COURTESY DITTYTV
  • Courtesy DittyTV
Local heroes DittyTV, who have steadily grown their online music television streaming presence since 2014, made a major leap forward this week when they announced a new partnership with the New York-based Krantz Media Group/KMG Networks (KMG), which specializes in marketing audio-only content, chiefly in what is still broadly called "radio."

“DittyTV is the most robust video channel in the world dedicated to the diverse and growing Americana and Roots music categories,” said Gary Krantz, CEO of KMG. “Americana continues to grow exponentially and is the passionate choice for 18-34 and 25-54-year-old adults that are under-served by mainstream media, yet highly desired by brands and advertisers. KMG is very excited to build success with several projects in the works for all forms of radio and podcasts”. And while DittyTV already features a 24/7 Ditty TV audio channel, at www.dittytvradio.com, plans are now being made for daily and weekly podcasts, event and awards show coverage, and more.

I spoke with DittyTV CEO Ronnie Wright to see just what this meant for the company, and what new ways we could expect to hear its content in the future.

Memphis Flyer: So how did this partnership come about?

Ronnie Wright: Gary was pretty persistent, so we double checked with some mentors that we have before we decided to pursue it. It turns out this guy's been in radio his whole career. It's all about radio and audio. He reached out to us independently, and a couple people we know actually went to college with him. So they go way back. That gave us a level of comfort. He's identified this Americana movement and this under-served market. He knows how to monetize audio-specific assets.

What specifically does that mean, in terms of how people will hear your stuff?

There's a couple things he's gonna help us with, which is getting a radio, or audio-only version of DittyTV on something like Sirius XM or iHeart Radio. It would be its own channel where you could listen to Ditty on some other platforms, other than our own. And then there'll be a revenue split on advertising that they sell. That's one thing he does. And another thing that's growing are podcasts. Basically, what he does is bridge the licensing agreements, and then he has the advertising connections and machine to connect advertisers with our content. And we've already created a lot of our content, and we're sitting on it. So we have a 24 hour broadcast, and we already have an audio version of it, where I just strip out the video. If you go to dittytvradio.com, it's already live. You'll see all of our podcasts, and you can just listen to the audio. So Gary thinks we can get on other platforms and make some money out of licensing, and or selling advertising. And ironically, he says on the radio market, there's still people listening and people making money. Even on traditional terrestrial radio, AM and FM. They're still buying content. So what we're talking about putting together is a weekly Americana & Roots wrap up or countdown, something like that. And we'll produce a two or three hour show that we then syndicate to all these radio stations.
COURTESY DITTYTV
  • Courtesy DittyTV
It sounds like this will be a big move for you all in the domestic market. I know you're already pretty big internationally.

Yeah. And from our standpoint, it's just building general brand awareness. The more places we can get, whether it's on an app or a radio station, or iHeart radio, the better. Gary thinks there's a lot of opportunity with the audio-only part of our thing that we really have to explore. I've always been more interested in the television part of this. But he's right. All our teleprogramming is very easily turned into podcasts or radio programming. And since audio is cheaper to produce, there's so many more opportunities that we can create. So we're expanding our footprint into the radio podcast world, be it satellite or terrestrial. And we're thinking about specifically producing a radio show, which we've never really done before. But we have all the rights to the music. So there's no reason we couldn't just put together an audio version of what we're already doing.

What is KMG bringing to the table in this partnership?

Gary's got a lot of connections in the industry, with larger names in the Americana Roots world. He thinks we could get guest hosts and guest DJ's. Kinda like XM shows that have celebrity co-hosts. And since we're  a lot better at producing content than selling, he can help us with that. So it could open some doors. He's gonna do this whole market analysis. And our first goal is to get on a high profile radio network, like Sirius or iHeart. Just to raise visibility. And once we turn that corner, other things will come more easily. And it would be the same broadcast that we're already doing.

Will DittyTV continue to stick with Americana and roots music?

With satellite channels, it's usually genre driven. When it comes to Americana-Roots, whatever you want to call it, I think what Gary is realizing, which is what we realized, is there's a big smart global group that likes this stuff. They like the fact that it's not mainstream country. They like the fact that it's not pop music or electronica. There's a place for what we're curating on more platforms, so more people can get to it. If you like it on your television, why not stream it in your car? Or on your XM radio? Or on your iHeart app? And with DittyTV, the goal is not necessarily to make a lot of money, the goal is to be sustainable, self sustainable, and be a real resource and help emerging artists. If we grow, we can make a bigger impact. It would be great to triple the staff. Or to have an RV on the road, covering festivals, with a whole other camera crew.

I know you've recently opened a retail shop as well, Vibe & Dime, on South Main Street. What other new projects are cooking at Ditty?

We also formed a non profit, called the Ditty Foundation. Everything we produce goes back to the artist. We give them all the media for free, we promote the albums and the tours.

And we also just released DittyTV 2.0. We have a brand new app for all the set-top boxes like Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, Tivo, and now you can watch all the shows on demand, which is new. We'll always have the live 24/7 broadcast, but now you'll be able to pick your favorite shows. And we have so many episodes! You can also get daily news segments. And by the end of next week, we're gonna have our mobile apps. So you'll have all those same capabilities in an iPhone app and an Android app. The radio only, the on demand, the live broadcast. We're super excited about that.

And we're super excited about partnering with KMG. I think Gary really appreciates the entrepreneurship that's gone into DItty so far, the challenges that we've had to overcome. So hopefully DittyTV will be coming to a radio dial near you soon.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

The Secret Room at the Lamplighter: Grand Opening On Saturday

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2019 at 1:16 PM

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It was so like a dream. "We were in the old house. You were there, and you, and you...And we saw this door we'd never seen, so we opened it — and found a whole other room, that had been there under our noses all these years!"

Except it wasn't a dream. It was only yesterday and I was getting a tour from Laurel Cannito, who, along with Chuck 'Vicious' Wenzler, took over the Lamplighter Lounge last year after longtime owner Ann Bradley decided to retire. Looking a little mischievous, Cannito motioned me to a door I'd never seen and threw it open. And there it was: the Secret Room.

"It's like Harry Potter, isn't it?" she said, looking rather proud of her bar and the team that helps her run the place. "The room's always been here, but we haven't always been connected. This used to be a TV repair shop in the 60s. And then it was a bookstore. And then it was a ball point pen repair place. We've always said, 'Oh, wouldn't that be neat to turn into a venue space?' So, we recently acquired it. We have great landlords. They worked with us to help get it attached and everything. Then we did a lot of the construction work after we put it onto our lease."

Thomas pours a PBR - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Thomas pours a PBR
The Lamplighter Lounge, of course, is the long-adored dive on Madison Avenue that some say is the the oldest bar in Memphis. Despite the smallish space of the original lounge, the new owners removed the pool table last year and began hosting bands with increasing frequency. The vibe was always great, but it could get a bit cramped.

Now, the Secret Room more than doubles the size of the place. Entering from a door on the south end of the bar, you see an unassuming functional space that (gasp!) even includes a green room for the bands. What's more, the new room marks the return of the beloved pool table. Cannito is happy to have it back. "Miss Anne sold the pool table before we bought the place, so we didn't choose to get rid of it," she says, now visibly relieved at its return.

In addition to some few finishing touches like stringing lights, she'll outfit the new room with more bar-like amenities soon. "The original jukebox is still here by the bar, and we got that working again. But there on left is a new old jukebox that we are gonna get working for the Secret Room. Yep, double jukebox. You just need a jukebox in every room. That door over there is the customer door. And this door behind the bar is gonna be split in half and have a bar top on it so we can sling drinks from there."

Aside from such touches, the Secret Room will remain fairly sparse. "It'll be a little bare bones. It'll be not so much a raw space, but a malleable space. I like performance art. I would love to have more of that, like performance art and puppetry and dancing, or even the aerial stuff that's been around. Next month, we're doing a pop-up boutique every Sunday, because me and some friends have a bunch of clothes that we're trying to get out into the world. Stuff that's really nice, but it's just not our style anymore. And then, I have some friends in Asheville who are part of a professional circus. I could get them here at some point. It just expands our ability to help encourage creativity around town, give it a space," says Cannito.
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And of course there will be music. "We already have music of all kinds, like the old time string band, soul bands, rock bands of all kinds, and rap and DJs and 80s nights. It's so nice. I want this to be the kind of space where every kind of music can find a place. And having the Secret Room is going to be really good for that. I think it'll bring even more types of music and even more bands. Because not everybody wants to set up in the small room and just play for people who drink. It'll help a lot with the intentionality of it."

To that end, the Secret Room will be having its inaugural show this weekend, Saturday, July 13th, featuring some of Midtown's favorites: Louise Page, Faux Killas and Rosey. Remarked Cannito of the latter band, "They're so, so good. When they finish a song, there's just a silence as the audience tries to process what they've just heard."
Discover the Secret Room this Saturday, to see and hear it for yourself.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Super Low Releases Self-Titled Debut at B-Side

Posted By on Thu, Jul 11, 2019 at 4:12 PM

Tiger Adams (left) and John Lewandowski of Super Low
  • Tiger Adams (left) and John Lewandowski of Super Low

Bluff City fans of melodic pop songs with jangly guitars, ear-worm hooks, and layers of piano, strings, and piano have new reason to rejoice: Memphis-based Super Low will release their self-titled debut album at B-Side inside Minglewood Hall on Friday, July 12th.

Formerly China Gate, Super Low has undergone a name change and some lineup shifts, but the core of the band remains. Singer/guitarist Tiger Adams leads the band, with support from drummer John Lewandowski, bassist Conner Booth, and a rotating cast of additional musicians. It should be noted, also, that Adams’ Super Low is not to be confused with fellow Bluff City band, Super-Lo, which includes members of the now-legendary Memphis punk outfit The Klitz.

In advance of the upcoming album release show, Super Low has debuted two singles from the upcoming album, “Unlimited Data” and “Runners Up.” The singles are sunny and warm, with bright guitars and impeccable arrangements highlighting the band’s penchant for instrumental hooks — like the catchy organ fill in “Runners Up.”

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“Unlimited Data” is manna from heaven for listeners who appreciate layers upon layers of clean electric and acoustic guitars. Think Scottish indie rockers Camera Obscura, but with a Southern man in glasses and baseball cap behind the microphone instead of Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell. Another comparison that comes to mind is French garage-pop wunderkind En Attendant Ana, the undisputed break-out stars of Gonerfest 15. As with En Attendant Ana and Camera Obscura, on Super Low, the rhythms are up-tempo, the melodies are memorable, and the layers of guitar are seemingly unending. Put simply, this is pop done right.

The upcoming concert at B-Side will kick off a tour with stops in Nashville, Baltimore, Atlanta, and New York.


Super Low perform at B-Side, Friday, July 12th, 9 p.m.


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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

ORUÃ: Brazilian Band Wows Lafayette’s, Backs Built to Spill

Posted By on Wed, Jul 10, 2019 at 2:05 PM

ORUÃ - KARIN SANTA ROSA
  • Karin Santa Rosa
  • ORUÃ

Boise, Idaho, rockers Built to Spill released their fan-favorite album Keep It Like a Secret some 20 years ago, in 1999, which is why Doug Martsch, the maestro behind the band, is currently touring the album in celebration of the landmark anniversary. Hey, 20 years is a long time for a rock band. Built To Spill made a stop in Memphis at Overton Square’s Lafayette’s Music Room on Tuesday, July 9th, and Martsch proved that his riffs and all-along-the-neck runs are as crisp and fresh today as they were 20 years ago. One thing, however, was notably different. Martsch was supported, not by the usual cast of bearded and Fender-wielding Idahoans, but by rock trio ORUÃ, hailing from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who pulled double duty as both members of Built to Spill and the opening band. And, to put it simply, they brought the house down. 

But first, some history: Martsch is Built to Spill. His idiosyncratic playing style, penchant for Fender gear, trademark high-and-lonesome vocals, and long instrumental digressions form the backbone of the band’s identity. What’s more, Martsch has stated in many interviews that his original plan for the band was to employ a constantly rotating cast of support musicians as his backing band. However, sometime between There’s Nothing Wrong With Love (1994) and Keep It Like a Secret, a permanent lineup began to coalesce — at least until 2015’s Untethered Moon brought in new members. Those members were absent Tuesday night, but their shoes were filled admirably by ORUÃ. 


ORUÃ - KARIN SANTA ROSA
  • Karin Santa Rosa
  • ORUÃ

The first opening act was keyboard player/comedian Wet Face, whose arpeggiated piano runs and electronic beats were a vehicle for his charismatic antics and rapid-fire witticisms. Wet Face is worth checking out, but ORUÃ, who played next, was the break-out star of the evening.

Don’t get me wrong — Built to Spill put on a wonderful show as they played Keep It Like a Secret in its entirety, albeit out of sequence and with welcome additions from other albums. ("Time Trap" and "Broken Chairs" were highlights, as was "I Would Hurt a Fly" from Perfect From Now On.) But the boys from Brazil surprised me. I had no idea what to expect, so my defenses were nonexistent, leaving me open to be obliterated (in the best possible way) by their psychedelic, jazz-influenced onslaught. They put me in mind of California-based party rockers Oh Sees (formerly Thee Oh Sees), but any comparison fails to do ORUÃ justice. Including myself, there were three WEVL DJs present at last night’s show, and we all shared one takeaway: “This band is incredible! What was their name again? Could you understand them?”

The vocalist sang in a high lilt, in what I assume was Portuguese. Language barrier or no, I was transported. Their set passed by all too briefly, making Built to Spill’s — by any reckoning the main course — feel like dessert. Adding to the impressive feat of their live show, the members of ORUÃ (sans drummer, who, I assume was icing himself down after his set) played a game of musical chairs with their instruments when it came time for Martsch to take the stage. The Brazilian band’s guitarist and vocalist climbed behind the drum kit; their bassist proved himself to be equally proficient with guitar and glass slide guitar.

All in all, the concert, from start to finish, was a treat. And yes, Built to Spill still rocks pretty dang hard. 


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Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Other Red, White & Blue: Orquesta Akokán Brings Cuba's Finest

Posted By on Thu, Jul 4, 2019 at 6:43 PM

Orquesta Akokán
  • Orquesta Akokán
Old Glory isn't the only red, white and blue we can celebrate this weekend. That other revolution, nearly 200 years after the United States', may have shaken up the traditional stew of influences that always made Cuba a musical dynamo, but the island's deep lineage is as powerful as ever today. Orquesta Akokán, appearing at the Levitt Shell on Saturday, July 6, is proof positive. Touting a Grammy Award nomination for "Best Tropical Latin Album," and making the "Best Of" lists of numerous media outlets, the big mambo sound of the band is catching on fast. And it was all spurred on by a record cut live to tape over a three-day session at Havana’s hallowed state-run Estudios Areito, one of the longest operating studios in the world.

The album was produced by Jacob Plasse and arranged by Mike Eckroth, and I recently had a chance to ask Plasse about the album's genesis and how it spawned the current juggernaut touring band.

Memphis Flyer: Cuban music is fascinating because it's hard to wrap my head around the syncopation and the timekeeping, as a musician. I enjoy the way it mystifies me.

Jacob Plasse: I can definitely relate to that. Because I'm not Cuban, and I learned Cuban music coming from jazz. So it took me a long time and a lot of embarrassing gigs of getting lost, rhythmically, before I felt comfortable. And still, I feel like I can always get better. Some of the things you do are so simple, but to get them right, really in the pocket — it's very apparent in Cuban music the degree that you are or are not in the pocket. If you look at rock bands, like the Rolling Stones, things can be a little loose, and that's cool. That' s part of the style.

That is not the case with Cuban music. There is no “one”. Like the fourth beat is really one. In rock music you have a bass drum hitting on the one. In Cuban music, everything hits on the four. Mambo music less so than other types of Cuban music, which kind of makes it easier, but still even that too. The congas hit on the four, the bass hits on four, usually the piano or the guitar is accenting four.

With historically rich recordings and projects like the Buena Vista Social Club, it seems the Cuban musical scene has a keen appreciation of its past, that there's a great continuity with music of the 40s or earlier.

Not exactly. I'm not really a historian, but I think the most important event in Cuban music is the Cuban Revolution. Before that there was so much interaction between New York and Havana, and after that things split in two. You can hear things sort of change. Then a big part of mambo music actually happened in Mexico, and had to do with the Mexican film industry. Perez Prado came out of that. Basically, after the revolution the American recording music isn't as important; it can't go to Cuba and record.

So then the Cuban thing becomes nationalized, and what the Cuban government, Fidel and the Communist Party, wanna promote is not music like mambo, which is coming out of the casinos. That became frowned upon, so it sort of disappeared in a way. Other styles become more prominent. This big band sound that is so American falls heavily out of favor in that period.

Yet the old traditions were preserved enough for things like the Buena Vista Social Club to come together.

Well, I think in time the government gradually let all that come back. Because it was a money and cultural cash cow. And Buena Vista helped a lot of people become familiar with Cuban music. I think our music is pretty different than Buena Vista. It's very much related, it's still Cuban music, but with the instrumentation, the sounds, it's definitely a different thing.

Yet without the Buena Vista, I wonder how much interest people would have in my group. And that was how I was exposed to a lot of Cuban music too. It was a great starting point. And I fell in love with it and learned about all these other things. I think the Buena Vista is wonderful for what it's done for people's understanding of the music.

How do you understand Cuban music's cultural importance? What do we get from Cuban music?

What I love about Cuban music is its unification of what people can dance to and what's art music. It's all very advanced, harmonically and rhythmically, and yet people can dance to it. The way into all this is through dance. And if you listen to some mambo stuff, like Perez Prado and stuff, there's often a lot of dissonant harmonies. Those Perez Prado recordings from the 60s are weird! It's like nothing else. And full of pretty advanced ideas that you find more in film music or something. But because it's couched in these African dance rhythms, people can understand it and it's a gateway in.
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How did Orquesta Akokán come to be?


Me and Mike Eckroth and singer José "Pepito" Gómez all lived in the New York area. And I had a musical, and Mike and Pepito had played sometimes in my band, Los Rancheros. So we knew each other from the New York scene. And then we started writing these songs. Mike especially is incredibly knowledgeable about this style and this time. He has a doctorate in Cuban music, if you can believe it. So we wrote these songs and tried recording them in New York. It was okay, but it wasn't anything earth shattering.

And then Pepito, the lead singer, was going down to Cuba. He's actually kind of a famous timba singer, which is a modern style of Cuban music. He said, 'Why don't you come down? And why not bring the arrangements, maybe we can work on the tunes.' And then he said, 'Let's book a studio!'

Then all of a sudden we were recording an album with all these legends of Cuban music that Pepito and Cesar had assembled. So Orquesta Akokán was sort of a recording project, and making records is what I do for a living, but this one, for some reason, everyone loved. Dap-Tone ended up releasing it, then they really wanted us to tour. So we became a touring band. And now it's this whole business or something. It's really incredible. The band sounds great and people are really receptive, which is wonderful.

How did the recording sessions in Cuba take shape?

Me and Mike and Pepito just wanted to make a cool album. It's not easy to get everything through production in Cuba, because there are these variables. But Cesar Lopez, our saxophone player, arranged it all. Recording it, we had this wonderful studio the size of a gymnasium in central Havana. Nat King Cole recorded there. All the legends. So you walk in there and you feel special. Like no recording studio I've every been at that. That room is really special. And that's really all you need.

What kind of scene and sound should people expect when they show up at the shell Saturday?

People should expect to dance. There's nothing like a really killing rhythm section live. The record comes alive in so many ways when we play it. It has a new energy to it. Those rhythms are meant to be felt and heard in person. There's a connection that happens that doesn't happen otherwise. 
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Friday, June 28, 2019

Back To The Future: Memphis Concrète Connects With The Avant World

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 3:39 PM

Matmos - THEO ANTHONY
  • Theo Anthony
  • Matmos
When I moved to Memphis from New York in the late ’80s, I experienced many musical epiphanies daily. Yet I always yearned a bit for the downtown no-wave scene that the Big Apple offered. Nowadays, though, it's a different story altogether, and this weekend's events are causing me to pinch myself. Can I combine the joys of Memphis life with all the edginess of loft life in Williamsburg? Are my musical colleagues truly mixing and mingling the local avant garde with the wider world of envelope-pushers out there? Have I died and gone to heaven?

One answer in the affirmative is the Memphis Concrète festival going down all weekend at Crosstown Arts. Masterminded by synthesist Robert Traxler and launched in 2017 by a small tribe his fellow electronic devotees, the festival has gone from success to success ever since. One sure sign of this was when I happened upon my neighbor, who exclaimed, "Are you going to Memphis Concrète? Matmos is coming!"

Indeed, Matmos is a much respected group in the electronic world, and their presence at the festival is indicative of its rapidly growing international reach. For the past quarter century, Matmos has developed a unique sound that blends the experimental with the danceable. Well known for conceptual albums based around single-themed sample sources (e.g. household objects, surgery sounds, a washing machine), their latest album Plastic Anniversary is built on sounds that, in one way or another, originate from plastic.

Other highlights of Memphis Concrète include Moor Mother, aka Camae Ayewa, who has worked with the venerable Art Ensemble of Chicago, Rapoon from the United Kingdom, who mix music concrète and drone, the very industrial Pas Musique, and Tavishi, who explores immigrant and queer identities through sound.

Naturally, plenty of local experimentalists will be featured as well, including Optic Sink, Jack Alberson, Linda Heck, and Ihcilon. Some of the artists will also gather at a pre-festival show on Friday, June 28th at the Lamplighter Lounge. (See below for the full Memphis Concrète lineup).

Saturday 6/29:
10:05-11:05 pm: Matmos
8:45-9:45 pm: Rapoon
7:55-8:25 pm: Mykel Boyd
7:10-7:40 pm: Optic Sink
6:25-6:55 pm: Max Eilbacher
5:45-6:15 pm: MPX
3:55-5:45 pm: Tron movie w/ live score by Argiflex + Careful Handling
3:30-3:55 pm: Noiserpuss + Belly Full of Stars
3:00-3:25 pm: Mike Honeycutt + bihl

Sunday 6/30:
9:05-10:05 pm: Moor Mother
8:00-8:45 pm: Pas Musique + Shaun Sandor
7:00-7:45 pm: Tavishi
6:20-6:50 pm: Outside Source
5:40-6:10 pm: Artificer
5:00-5:30 pm: Paul Vinsonhaler
4:20-4:50 pm: Jack Alberson
3:40-4:10 pm: Linda Heck + Pas Moi
3:00-3:30 pm: Ihcilon + Jack the Giant Killer

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Charlie Daniels Talks 40 Years of “Devil”

Posted By on Wed, Jun 26, 2019 at 1:22 PM

You know the story. The Devil went down to Georgia, looking for a soul to steal. And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for that ace fiddle player, Johnny. As a cultural touchstone, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which just celebrated 40 years of fiddle-playing in the American collective unconscious, has attained incredible heights; I knew the song before it even occurred to me to wonder who wrote or recorded it. That musician, of course, is Charlie Daniels, and he and his band will perform at BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove, Friday, June 28th. In advance of the concert, I spoke with Daniels over the phone about his session work with Bob Dylan, diversifying his writing, and the staying power of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”


Charlie Daniels
  • Charlie Daniels

Memphis Flyer: A radio DJ friend of mine told me you got your start as a session musician. Is that true?


Charlie Daniels: Yeah, when I first came to Nashville, I used to do quite a few sessions. I never really fit the style of a what a Nashville player would be. I came off the road after 13 straight years of playing bang-slam rock in clubs, but there were certain sessions I sat in on — Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Marty Robbins. But the day-to-day thing, I was not really a “session player.” So sometimes that part of my career gets a bit overblown, I think because of the magnitude of some of the things I did play on. I did three Bob Dylan albums. That was part of my career, definitely.


Which Dylan albums did you play on?


[I played on] Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait, and New Morning.


That’s a great spread. Nashville Skyline is one of my favorite records.


You know what? I was only supposed to play on one session. I was fairly new to town, and Bob Johnston was the guy who brought me down there, who was producing the record. I said, “I would love to play on one of Bob Dylan’s sessions.” A lot of people think [Nashville Skyline] was the first album that Bob did in town. It was at least the third one he’d done here, and they’d put together the nucleus of a studio band for him. They always used ’em when he came to town. This time, the guitar player they had used was already booked on what would be the very first session. So Bob Johnston said come on down and play the first session, and the other guy will come on after you.


So I went down and played the session, and I was packing my guitars up and getting ready to leave. Bob Dylan asked Bob Johnston, “Where’s he going?” Bob Johnston said he’s leaving, we’ve got another guitar player coming in. … And Bob Dylan said nine words that would change my life: “I don’t want another guitar player. I want him.” That was the beginning of something very wonderful for me, because Bob was always kind enough to put the names of the musicians who played on his records on the back of the album. … It cut a lot of corners for me.


You put out a couple of books recently?


I didn’t know I could write, to be honest. But a friend of mine who worked with us at the time said, “You write story songs. Why don’t you write stories?” I was on the road one time, and I went in the motel room and took some paper and I sat down and started writing. I have a song called “Uneasy Rider,” and I wrote the story of it. And I found out, well, this is fun. So I started doing that.


It sounds like you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve. Does it keep it interesting and fun for you to change it up that way?


I was born in 1936, and it was way, way before television, so it was radio for me. And at that time, there weren’t many radio stations, so they had to follow the mandate of the FCC and they had to do something for everybody. They had to serve the whole community, which meant playing a lot of different kinds of music. So I got everything. It was such a variety. I went through the big band era, the Frank Sinatra-type era with the crooners. I was exposed to so many kinds of music when I was a kid, I developed a wide taste in music and I developed a wide taste in a lot of things. So I like spreading out a little. … I might write anything. I just finished a novel, my first one.


I bet that keeps you from getting bored.


Well, yeah. … You see people who never ever push the envelope or do anything outside of convention, and there’s so much life out there.

The Charlie Daniels Band
  • The Charlie Daniels Band


You have an incredibly long career. Do you think you’re able to stay relevant by shaking things up the way you do?


Well, I think so. Of course, I sound like I’m some sort of rebel, and I’m really not. It just happens naturally. I mean, I do stick to my guns. I have lines I’m not willing to cross and things I’m not willing to do. It’s cost me a time or two, as far as money is concerned. It ain’t cost me as far as how I feel about what I do. … I have never cut a hit record with any people other than my band. I’ve had record company people. I tried it one time. I let them talk me into it, and I had a studio band. They players were great, but this is a lifetime to me and it’s only one session to them, one song. I want guys with me who the music means more to than just one paycheck.


If you get people who have been playing together a long time, you get almost a telepathy, a short-hand communication.


I’ve got people who’ve been with me for 40 years. My personal roadie has a hearing impairment, and he’s a very good lip-reader. I can look at him and move my lips, and he knows what I’m talking about. Those are things you develop over the years. It’s not something that happens overnight.


While we’re talking about things that have been around for a while, you had some big anniversaries in May. What is it, 40 years for “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”?


To be honest with you, I have something maturing at one point or another all the time. I never thought too much about “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and all of a sudden, it was like 40 [years]. Especially for my generation, the age of 40 is supposed to be the line of demarcation for something. It’s where we go from being a young person into middle age. The age of 18, when you’re a kid means a lot. Of course, we all know what 21 is, and the next one is usually around 40. It just hit me a little more than all the previous ones had. But what hits you so much is the viability of the song today.

It’s truly amazing to have a tune like that that stays. And of course we do it every show.


The Charlie Daniels Band performs with Travis Tritt, The Cadillac Three at BankPlus Amphitheatre at Snowden Grove, Friday, June 28th, 7:30 p.m.


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Friday, June 21, 2019

A 'biSOULtennial' Playlist For the Ages From Stax Museum

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2019 at 2:43 PM

Classic singles from the heyday of soul music at Stax - COURTESY STAX MUSEUM OF AMERICAN SOUL MUSIC
  • Courtesy Stax Museum of American Soul Music
  • Classic singles from the heyday of soul music at Stax
We're seeing a lot of ways to honor the history of Memphis in this, its 200th year, but few are as fun as the Memphis biSOULtennial Countdown, sponsored by the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. It began with a special listening event and discussion at Crosstown Arts last month, where panelists Dr. Charles Hughes (Rhodes College), DJ Eddie Hankins (WEVL-FM), Tonya Dyson (Memphis Slim House), Kameron Whalum (Stax Music Academy artist in residence), and Jared Boyd ("The Daily Memphian") discussed two selections from their personal top ten Memphis soul tracks from 1957-75.

Not content to leave it at that, Stax opened up an online ballot so everyone can pick their own favorites from that period. Anyone who wishes to voice their choice can still do so before June 30th.  To that end, Stax created a 200-song playlist on Spotify to review all the ballot selections, which may be the greatest outcome of the entire undertaking. Covering songs from nearly every major artist, studio and label from that era, it's a must-listen for any fan of classic soul. Because they limit every artist to only five songs, mega-hits by the likes of Al Green, Isaac Hayes, or Otis Redding sit alongside lesser known gems by the Premiers, Wendy Rene, or the Astors.

Yes, your faithful correspondent has voted, and, in the interest of encouraging all readers to do the same, I post my ballot below. Feel free to comment on my selections below, or simply go vote for your favorites and be heard! The embarrassment of riches to choose from made this a near-impossible task, but I hunkered down and tried to select the best of the best. It was painful to bypass some personal favorites, like "Candy" by the Astors, or the Premiers' "Make It Me," but ultimately I had to ask myself: "Is this really better than 'Love and Happiness'?" Fortunately, there's even a spot to write in your own favorite if it's not listed.
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Try it yourself, and revel in the knowledge that we live in a land littered with such gems. Then be sure to visit the Levitt Shell on Saturday, June 29th, to hear the young players from the Stax Music Academy bare their musical souls, bringing many of these classics (and some originals) to life before your very eyes and ears. 

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