Saturday, 30 July 2011

Where's The Stage?

My early '80s shitabilly band, Kings of the Western Bop, once opened for Eugene Chadbourne's Shockabilly, on an inauspicious Sunday night at the Antenna Club in 1983, or thereabouts. There were approximately 20 people in the audience, comprised mostly of our band and its pathetic group of followers. I had become aware of Chadbourne's brilliant solo guitar work a couple of years earlier, and the idea that he and his collaborators would bother to come to a backwater like Memphis to play to an uncomprehending audience, would have been much easier to process if the hundreds of listeners which the music deserved had materialized at the time. They were only off by ten years, give or take.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Clowns on the loose

Memphis' Luv Clowns (Alex Greene [Big Ass Truck, Reigning Sound] - keyboards, Doug Easley [possibly needs no introduction] - drum, Tim Prudhomme - guitar, Harlan T. Bobo - bass) crash a childrens' parade on Beale Street and receive the bum's rush from police outside the FedEx Forum. It's tough being a clown, even a clown trying to spread luv.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

It Came From Memphis

Via Linda Heck comes this interesting relic of the time, namely Robert Gordon's February 1995 book-signing/reading at Burke's Books, just down the road from where we both lived at the time. Shot by Memphibian Bob Angst, this peculiar document includes a very entertaining section of the opening chapter of Robert's landmark work, "It Came From Memphis," as well as a cavalcade of familiar faces: the seemingly omnipresent (in those days) Cordell Jackson, accompanied by one of her stable of "artists," Jones Rutledge, the lovely Gina Barker, the lovely Martha Green, the lovely Linda Heck (very briefly), and some other people I recognize but never knew and couldn't name. "If aerial photographs could reveal energy the way infrared photographs reveal heat, Memphis would be surrounded by vectors pointing toward it: 'this is the place.'" Right on, Bob!

The timeless rituals of summer

They seem to get better with each passing year. Highlights from Carter's Steam Fair 2011, Belair Park:

The Wall of Death

Swings of Death

Professor Voltini and Madam Electra

Blue Spark

I was sitting in the corner grumbling the other day while my daughters watched some execrable Disney sitcom starring Selena Gomez, when I saw, much to my horror, the great John Doe appear in a cameo role. Painful as this was, it started me thinking again about X, a band I loved back in the day, particularly this album, and particularly this song. The structure is odd, but infectious, and the filmic lyrics show why this band possessed much more sophistication and substance than many of its contemporaries. And these eerie harmonies remain pretty much unmatched.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Everybody Here Wants You

Sixteen years ago this week I arrived in London to begin a life here, which now encompasses one-third of my time on this planet. A little under two years later, Jeff Buckley moved to Memphis on the recommendation of his friends The Grifters, a band I had known and worked with occasionally for years. He lived on the street I had last lived on, knew a lot of people I was friends with, played solo downtown at Barristers (a venue I had booked the first gig in five or six years earlier), and was set to begin a new album at Easley - McCain Studios (a place and people I knew well) the day after he unwisely chose to take a dip in the Wolf River.

So, beyond the obvious power of his creative talent, I guess I have always had an interest in him by virtue of a sense of connection, all of which centers on Memphis. Recently, I posted a great live version of "Lover, You Should Have Come Over" to Facebook, which elicited a response from an American woman who lives nearby, whose kids have gone to school with my own for a number of years. I have never gotten to know her well, but I knew she hailed from New York City, and in the exchange which followed, she revealed that Matt Johnson, drummer with JB (and now with the Wainwright siblings, inter alia) was a close friend and roommate in NYC before he departed for the lengthy Grace world tour. Life is strange and wonderful.

Enjoy this BBC documentary, which features some familiar Memphibian faces.