Sound Off 

Voters speak their peace on some of the up-and-comers, forgotten treasures, and near-misses on the local music scene.

Adios Gringos

This core group of musicians have been playing together for 14 years -- Private War, then 'Taint Skins, now Adios Gringos. NO ONE sounds like these guys. Highly creative satanic jazz metal. -- Chris Walker

American Deathray Music

Nick Diablo's polymorphic, gender-bending, monster-movie R&B vision is unprecedented in the annals of Memphis music and a must-see live show for every dilettante of the subpopular culture. -- Dan Ball


Okay, is it music? Well, at the very least, they are not to be missed live. But I think some of their humor is too sophisticated for the average Memphian. I think they're hilarious. Maybe if they learn to play some instruments they could be Devo for the new millennium. -- Lisa Lumb

Automusik would have fit nicely into the N.Y.C. electro-clash movement that just enjoyed its 15 minutes of hip press, but they do not fit into the Memphis underground music scene. Showgoers don't know what to think of this Kraftwerk/Flying Lizards/audience-baiting amalgamation wrapped up in a purposely (sexually) confused Eurotrash package, and that's good. What's the fun if you know what to think? -- Andrew Earles

A delightful romp through the skewed imagination of regular Memphis folks by day, boob-cone-wearing droids by night. -- Wayne Leeloy

Brad Bailey

He hasn't played out much yet, so his name is not a familiar one. Very talented and very unappreciated. He's releasing an album sometime soon on Black Dog Records. -- Brad Postlethwaite


In the footsteps of Saliva, Breaking Point, Primer 55, and Dust for Life, this should be the next metal band to break out of Memphis, and they may be the best. They've got guitar crunch aplenty and a lead singer whose melodies can soar with the best of them. Together 10 years, the thing that has really distinguished them of late is a relatively new rhythm section (made up of jazzheads, of all people) that gives them the tightest and most grooving foundation around. -- Mark Jordan

Robert Belfour

The youngest and most active Fat Possum artist and currently the most sought-after bluesman in Memphis. A living legend with a positive outlook on the future. -- Dennis Brooks

Barbara Blue

She's got spunk. She's got class. She's got business sense. And, above all, she's got that voice. -- Deni Carr

Shelby Bryant

Bryant creates music that makes you wish you were his neighbor and you could hear him practice. Last year's Cloud-Wow Music is still a beautifully eccentric pop record, but he should play shows more often than once a year. -- Nicole Ward

Tommy Burroughs

The best acoustic guitar player I have seen in years. Can play anything and fit in with any kind of music. Very underrated. -- Brent Harding

Crippled Nation

A young band with incredible potential. I'll be watching them. -- Jeniffer Church

Delta Grass

Tuba, cello, two keyboards, percussion, Australian didgeridoos, and what? No guitars? Guaranteed to impress anyone.

-- Benny Carter

Eighty Katie

Amazing Brit-pop -- from Bartlett, of all places. Listening to these guys made me dig out all of my old Jam and Kinks LPs. -- Lisa Lumb

Epoch of Unlight

Memphis' only black-metal band. The nicest guys to ever don corpse paint. The name leads to many hilarious misprints, Epoch of Sunlight and Epic of Unliked being my personal favorites. -- Chris Walker

David Evans

The preeminent country bluesman in Memphis, Dr. Evans is a scholar, guitarist, vocalist, writer, composer, and ethnomusicologist. His High Water label is a library of noted blues people from the area, and his performances with the Last Chance Jug Band offer blues and folk-music fans a history lesson. -- Dennis Brooks

Jeffrey Evans

Monsieur Jeffrey Evans' I've Lived a Rich Life was the most overlooked local release of last year -- by everyone, including me.The only excuse I have is that it is such a concise and richly personal history of local music, culture, and politics that it felt as if it had been in my collection for years. There were better-sounding local records last year, but this outdoor performance, recorded at Shangri-La Records, has more wit and heart than any of them.The sound is surprisingly clear and warm. It is a scruffy pastiche of rockabilly covers, Evans originals, and PG-rated anecdotes that will be relevant for years to come. It should be issued to all Memphis schools as a primer on local music.

-- David L. Dunlap Jr.


Still the funkiest freewheeling fusion mix in town. Never a dull gig. -- Lisa Lumb

The Gamble Brothers Band

Killer musicians with a groove that anybody can dig. What more could you want? -- Benny Carter

Andy Grooms

Great pianist, songwriter, poet, storyteller. Seems very humble too. I get the feeling Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits would appreciate Andy if they heard him. -- Brad Postlethwaite

The Hollywood Allstars

More or less a group of musicians who switch up and jam on blues songs at Wild Bill's every weekend. They are a million times better than any of the blues bands I've heard on Beale Street lately. If you're looking to just shake your ass and let loose, this group of blues virtuosos is your ticket to a great time. -- Brad Postlethwaite

Ingram Hill

They may be a little tame for the moshpit crowd, and they're probably off-the-radar of most Midtown indie-rock fans, but Ingram Hill have quietly become one of the most popular bands on the frat-party/Highland Strip scene. They're now turning into quite the regional draw on the southeastern college circuit as well, much like Dave Matthews and Hootie & the Blowfish did before them. Look for these guys to land a record deal very soon. -- Steve Walker

Rob Jungklas

After a way-too-long hiatus, this haunting poet/songwriter is again stirring, and I am really excited about that. In all honesty, I can say that I am a better person spiritually, physically, and emotionally when I can hear Rob play his music on a regular basis. -- Pam McGaha

Wayne Leeloy

The revolving lineup of Leeloy's Memphis Troubadours [gets my vote]. Moving to Gibson's Lounge really opened this up, and all the musicians who take part help the scene as a whole. -- Todd Dudley

Eric Lewis

A great musician contributing to many different bands. Definitely one of the top guitar players in town. A must-see.

-- Christopher Reyes


These guys are really talented. Their music is very different from any other Memphis bands I have heard. It's unfortunate (for Memphis) that they plan to move to New York at the end of the summer. Anyone who appreciates damn good songs should check out their live show while they still have the chance.

-- Brad Postlethwaite


They might be the breakout band of the year (from Memphis) with the upcoming release of their second album and their relentless touring schedule. One of the best live bands in town, if not the best. -- Todd Dudley

The hardest-working and most consistently rocking band in town. Their elbow-tipping live set is like Mexican food, i.e., when it's good, it's fantastic; when it's bad, it's still pretty good and well worth the risk of stomach upset.

-- Dan Ball


Reaching into the past but looking into the future.Cold dig it.

-- Jay Witherspoon

Blind Mississippi Morris

A Beale Street stalwart, Morris has proven to be the finest harmonica player to emerge from the Memphis area since James Cotton. -- Dennis Brooks

Calvin Newborn

The last living member of Memphis' famous Newborn family jazz dynasty, Calvin has never really gotten the credit he deserves, yet he writes and performs to this day, working with what he calls "omnifarious music" (music of all kinds, sorts, and types). And the story goes on

-- Andria Lisle

Robert Nighthawk III

A great singer and keyboard player who can blow that "Little Walter Thang" with the best. -- Brent Harding

O'Landa Draper's Associates

Gospel music is a strong force in Memphis music that is easy to overlook but should not be forgotten. The Associates continue to raise the bar in gospel music and get national recognition.

-- Jeniffer Church

Piston Honda

Smart rock without the attitude. They take the band seriously but not themselves; this is a band to move out of the way of. -- Pat Mitchell

Project Pat

It makes me warm inside knowing that a song like "Chickenhead" came out of Memphis. -- Andrew Earles

The zenith of the Hypnotize Minds sound.Hell, at least Mista Don't Play: Everythangs Workin had two radio hits.It is tragic that Project Pat, aka Patrick Houston, has just been convicted for a parole violation at the beginning of a promising solo career.

-- David L. Dunlap Jr.

Kim Richardson

Memphis' greatest chance at a female Garth Brooks -- Kim is poised to make some waves in Memphis and a few hours to the east as well. -- Wayne Leeloy

Reba Russell

A mainstay of contemporary Memphis music, and her current album, City of the Blues, keeps her on the leading edge.

-- Jerry Schilling

Eddie Smith

Flat-out the best country twanger in Memphis, an accomplished songwriter destined for greatness. -- Dennis Brooks

Jim Spake

As a sideman and session player, Jim Spake turns up in more places -- Sunday brunch at The Peabody, downtown with Di Anne Price, weekend gigs with the Bo-Keys, at Willie Mitchell's Royal Studio -- than most musicians dream about. The tenor and baritone saxman has accompanied everyone from Ike Turner and the Thomas family to Alex Chilton and Tav Falco's Panther Burns. Spake keeps it pretty low-key, though -- standing just out of the spotlight, he lets his music speak for itself. -- Andria Lisle

Scott Sudbury

His songs are solid pop and he could have made a fortune long ago in towns like Austin or Nashvegas as a songwriter, but he's ours.

-- Pat Mitchell

Keith Sykes

This is not going to be a popular or hip choice, but Keith Sykes' Don't Count Us Out [is my record of the year], a beautifully written, expertly played and produced disc. Like a Cal Ripken grounder or a Hal Blaine drum lick, it's nice to see (or hear) the unflashy, solid masters at work. -- Mark Jordan

The Tearjerkers

Jack "Oblivian" Yarber leaves the garage-rock light on, and there is no better mechanic. Any Memphis music collector who doesn't own a copy of Bad Mood Rising is missing the real point. -- Dan Ball

Three Pipe Problem

An extremely humble band heavy on composition and indulgence. The first time I saw this band, I stopped what I was doing and was drawn to the stage. -- Pat Mitchell

Vending Machine

Goofy-smart rock-and-roll from wailing wonder Robby Grant, Vending Machine is a subterranean classic: cool and fun in one. With such genius tunes as "Chocolate Guitarz" and "Grunt Once," it's damn depressing that he doesn't dispense more live shows, especially considering the killer band that backs him up.

-- Jeremy Spencer

Mose Vinson

A vastly underrated local treasure, Mose Vinson has been a Memphis piano institution for more than half a century. Most of us won't fully appreciate Mose Vinson until he's gone. -- Andria Lisle

Brad Webb

The most prolific engineer and producer to scrap together a living in Memphis in the last 20 years.

-- Daren Dortin

Charlie Wood

While his solo, nightly Beale Street gig goes unnoticed by most, nobody can argue Charlie's exceptionally high level of musicianship. His playing, songwriting, and vocal abilities have few, if any, rivals.

-- Posey Hedges

Jed Zimmerman

He's got the songs, the voice, and the look. Now if we can just convince him to give up the day job.

-- Posey Hedges

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