More Stories
Art of the South 2017

L Ross Gallery / 5040 Sanderlin Ave., Ste. 104June 2 - 30th (Reception: June 2 6:00pm - 8:00pm)

Cetin Oguz, Sarah Ahmad, Clay Palmer, Jason Stout, Eszter Sziksz, Marilyn Califf, Jessica Smith, Katie Maish, Paula Kovarik, Tara Walters, Yvonne Petkus, Anita Cooke, Juan Rojo, Joe Nolan, Liz Scofield
Number Presents Art of the South 2017 (Curated by Mark Scala)
Mark Scala is the chief curator at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. His major exhibitions have focused on the representation of the body in contemporary art. The most recent was Phantom Bodies: The Human Aura in Art (2015), which explores the subjects of loss and remembrance in contemporary art. This exhibition received an honorable mention from the Association of Art Museum Curators for best exhibition of 2015 in a mid-size museum. The 2012 exhibition, Fairy Tales, Monsters, and the Genetic Imagination, an international survey on the theme of the hybrid body in folklore, science fiction, and genetic engineering, was one of five finalists for the AAMC’s best thematic exhibition of 2012. Paint Made Flesh (2009) was a compilation of figure painting in the U.S., Germany, and Britain since World War II. In 2007, Scala was curator of Whispering Winds: Recent Chinese Photography featuring works by 21 contemporary artists from China, who are internationally celebrated for images that examine contrasts between traditionalism and globalism, the real and unreal, nature and urban life, and the personal and social that have come into sharp focus since the end of the Cultural Revolution. Scala has also organized solo exhibitions on emerging and mid-career artists, including Guido van der Werve, Inka Essenhigh, Gregory Barsamian, U-Ram Choe, Angelo Filomeno, Mike Hoolboom, Simen Johan, Tokihiro Sato, Ana Maria Tavares, and Camille Utterback.
Before coming to the Frist Center, Scala was curator at the Art Museum of Western Virginia, where he worked for ten years. He received his MA in art history in 1988 and MFA in painting in 1979, both from Virginia Commonwealth University. From 2008-2013, he held the position of senior guest lecturer at Vanderbilt University, teaching the course Sources of Contemporary Art. He has been a member of the Association of Art Museum Curators since 2001, and served on its board from 2010-2016.
Grrl Fest Runs The World
(image) Women are underrepresented in the music scene. That goes without being said, but is rarely said by us boys, and we all contribute to it being a problem. The Hi-Tone's inaugural Grrl Fest, organized by the venue's own Allison Kasper, kicks off Saturday and takes aim at the problem.  

"I was reading an article about a festival in Canada," Kasper says. "A female artist removed all of the all-male acts from the lineup, just to show the small representation of women in the music community. It sparked an idea in my mind to hold a fest that showcased bands with at least one female artist in each band that plays. I want to host something that lifts up and praises the badass women in our music community — a time where we can all come together and appreciate the incredible music being made here in memphis and surrounding areas."

Peep the line-up ahead of the show:

1) Nots:

2) Ten High (Fayetteville, Arkansas):

3) Bruiser Queen (St. Louis, Missouri):

4) Hash Redactor:

Impressively traceless online, but features members of Ex-Cult and Nots.

5) Mouton (Springfield, Missouri):

6) Crystal Shrine:

7) Louise Page:

8) Sweaters Together:

More on them here.
9) Harlan:

<a href="">Fingertips by Harlan</a>
10) Magnolia:

<a href="">perspicacity over paradox by magnolia</a>
11) NYA (DJ Set):

Grrl Fest is this Saturday, May 20th. Doors are at 7 pm. $15.
The Blues Music Awards: A Funky Family Reunion

The Blues Foundation's 38th Annual Blues Music Awards (BMA's) were held Thursday night at a packed Cook Convention Center, and for those few hours, a kind of blues utopia materialized in downtown Memphis. First and foremost, it was a utopia for blues fans of all stripes, with performances by luminaries old and new keeping everyone moving and “rattling their jewelry” at the gala event. But it was a utopia as well for the performers and others in this niche of the music industry, coming together to renew old friendships, forge new ones, and see the once-humble world of blues entertainment exploding before their eyes. Paradoxically, and perhaps due to the blues' homespun values, the community has lost none of it's personal quality even as the industry of the blues has grown.

“It's the biggest night in blues. We have two Grammy award winners, Fantastic Negrito and Bobby Rush, and they presented together,” explained Blues Foundation president Barbara Newman, who noted that the personal quality of the gathering remained intact. “It's all about relationship-building. It's a big reunion. And everybody's looking out for everybody else. All the nominees want to win, but they're really happy for their friends if they don't.” Having headed the organization for less than two years, she's made it her goal to reach beyond the established community. “The blues world knew about the Blues Foundation, but people that love the blues, but aren't necessarily entrenched in the blues, didn't know us, and we're working to get them to know who we are. We're seeing a lot more excitement and energy. Our social media has popped. There's been huge growth there.”

Highlights of the night included a soulful set by Betty Lavette, who fondly recalled recording one of her hits here in Memphis forty-eight years ago, and a bristling performance by longtime Muddy Waters sidekick John Primer. Primer delivered the most gripping solos of the night, playing bottleneck slide in frenzied, coruscating sheets of sound, invoking the early Chicago scene one minute, quoting the Star Spangled Banner in the next. Pausing between numbers, he noted, “You know, I won one of these trophies last year. But I'll be so happy when someone else wins. I don't need five or six trophies. Let these young people win some and keep the blues alive.”

And while many young talents were recognized last night, the royalty of the evening was clearly Bobby Rush, fresh off his recent Grammy win for Best Traditional Blues Album. At the BMA's, not only did his Porcupine Meat win Album of the Year, his fifty-year career retrospective on Omnivore Recordings, Chicken Heads, won Historical Album of the Year. “It makes me feel old!” quipped Rush. “But it's a blessing to get old. You put your mark on a wheel and you roll it down a hill, and your mark come back to you.”

Musing on the four disc set, Rush noted, “to have a CD out with this many records, you have to be blessed enough to have that many masters. Because the masters that I have, I own. Not many artists, especially black artists, own their own masters.” Was this due to his business smarts at the time? “Now I think it's smart. But I was blessed, because I think what happened was, they counted me out, 'cos I was just a little blues guy, would never amount to anything. 'Let him have it, he's not gonna do anything with it.' And all of a sudden I get 80 years old, and I have a valuable piece of property.” Rush hinted at more retrospectives to come. “That's not even about half of it. I probably have another 120 songs in the can,” he said before adding, with his eye on the future, “My motto is, 'I must do all I can while I can.' The best song never been sung yet.”

For a complete list of winners and other information, go to

Review: Joe Walsh Returns to Memphis and Tom Petty, Too
(image) Nine-year-old me was introduced to Tom Petty via a video game named Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The song was "Runnin' Down A Dream," which was released 13-years-prior on 1989's Full Moon Fever. The game became my main access point to his music. When my dad realized this, he dug up his old records and handed them down.

I was similarly introduced to Joe Walsh — through "In The City," which originally appeared on the soundtrack for 1979's The Warriors. My dad also brought that film into my life. When I got older, I'd be re-introduced to Walsh through tales about his time living in Memphis.

So when Walsh returned Monday with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, my dad and I went.

"I spent a year here one night," Walsh told a packed crowd of all ages at The Fedex Forum.

Petty and The Heartbreakers would later carry the audience through an evening of songs that built a career spanning more than four decades.

"Look at the last 40 years like its one big record," Petty said. "We're just gonna put the needle down here and there across it."

What follows is a transcript of my notes from the evening:

7:35 p.m.: The person behind us can mouth all of the guitar parts to every Joe Walsh song, but has serious trouble recalling the names or lyrics.

7:39 p.m.: Joe Walsh has two drummers?

7:43 p.m.: Mom's are dancing, Dad's are dancing, everyone is dancing.

7:47 p.m.: Joe Walsh has two drummers and a sick laser light show and he is really good at slide guitar.

7:54 p.m.: "This song is for my friend and brother Glenn Fry," Walsh says before he plays The Eagles' "Take It To The Limit." Everyone is on their feet and really enamored by Walsh. This is the golden moment of the show so far. (Note: Looking back, this remained my favorite part of his set and possibly the night.)

8:02 p.m.: I should have said this earlier, but for context, we're seated on Row C of section 105 in seats 17 and 18. This the first row before you step down onto floor seating. There is a security guard standing at the edge of the row, holding onto a rail while she points a flashlight at the ground so folks remember to watch their step. At least six people have tripped so far, all finding their footing, but some not as swift as others. Most have caught themselves on her shoulder, and she's handling it okay. No major plants yet, but I'm worried and distracted from the show.

8:09 p.m.: "If you're young and not familiar with my music, your parents loved this next song," Walsh says before playing "In The City." Dad tells me when he was my age or younger and worked at a radio station, he'd play this song all of the time.

8:19 p.m.: I'm having a hard time understanding a lot of the words Walsh is saying.

8:19 p.m.: A lady behind me says Walsh looks like an aged Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

8:42 p.m.: A pair of expressive black and red cowboys boots spotted at the urinal to the right of me.

9:12 p.m.: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers take the stage. Petty is wearing a purple blazer and what I make out to be a cheetah-print tie.
"The cradle of rock 'n' roll is Memphis," Petty says. "Can you feel that mojo creeping across the room?"

9:18 p.m.: The Heartbreakers band is really good. Petty later introduces them as Mike Campbell on guitar, Benmont Tench on keys, Ron Blair on bass, Scott Thurston on guitar, keys, and harmonica, and Steve Ferrone on drums. There's also The Webb Sisters, Charley and Hattie, who we later learn toured with Leonard Cohen.

9:19 p.m.: Petty's light show is impressive. It consists of four sets of color-changing orb-shaped lights placed in rows of five, and they move to make different shapes from song to song. The band goes into "Mary Jane's Last Dance," and the lights turn green.

9:21 p.m.: I smell the fruit.

10:02 p.m.: Tom Petty is leading the masses in a synchronized clap. Seat 18 on Row C of Section 105 offered the best people watching view I've ever enjoyed at an arena show. There's something only slightly terrifying about a crowd staring straight ahead and clapping in attempted unison as if they're all under a spell.

10:17 p.m.: Someone dressed in head-to-toe Elvis garb appears from the masses, swaying and knelt over, trying to get the bands attention. Elvis eventually succeeds, only briefly.

10:32 p.m.: My favorite part of the night could change to now, when Petty played what sounded to be a more stripped-down version of "Learning to Fly." (Note: Walsh still won my favorite moment of the night, but this was a really close second.)

10:51 p.m.: Awesome, they are playing "Runnin' Down A Dream," my anthem.

10:55 p.m.: Some folks have taken their seats. They are tired but Petty has nearly gone through 'em all except for "American Girl," and they know it's coming.

11:00 p.m.: Ah, "You Wreck Me," not "American Girl." But on a personal note, I really wanted to hear this song and am happy he played it.

11:07 p.m.: He rings out that first chord, and everyone is on their feet again. Before closing out his set, Petty wraps it up:

"When I was a little boy, when someone told me of Memphis, they'd say that's where all the rock 'n' roll stars lived. So that's where I wanted to go."

Tape Art Finale: Party on the Plaza
Tape Art Finale: Party on the Plaza
Wednesday, May 24, 4-7pm
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

Join us in removing the mural created by the Rhode Island-based artist collective Tape Art.

Using ladders, a boom lift and a bountiful amount of low-adhesive paper tape, Tape Art founder Michael Townsend, creative director Leah Smith and the Tape Art Crew will begin the mural-making process on the Brooks Museum's façade on Monday, May 8. The public is invited to drop by to observe the progress of the work, to participate and to interact with the artists. The artwork created in our third project of the Brooks Outside series is intentionally temporary.

Regardless of the time spent to create the mural, the installation will end with an invitation to the public to join in the removal process on Wednesday, May 24. Tape Art Finale: Party on the Plaza will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. with music, art making, food trucks and more.

Brooks Outside: Tape Art is sponsored by Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP and Deloitte Services LP, with special thanks to Ruth and Casey Bowlin and Montgomery Martin Contractors.
Photograph © Tape Art Crew.

Black Magic
(image) Amy Black comes to Memphis and soaks in the Hi groove.

The Hi Rhythm Section conjures up 50 years of Memphis history with every groove they lay down. Perhaps it's the drive — elemental, relentless — at times honing in on a single note, bearing down like box cars slow-rolling through the city. Or it could come down to a telepathic connection between players like Howard Grimes, Charles Hodges, and Leroy Hodges, as nuances of dynamics and polyrhythms gel into a fluid, soulful whole. Whatever makes the magic, these players have gained international fame, and in recent years, artists like Chan Marshall (Cat Power) and Frazey Ford have come to Memphis just to work with them. Now we can add Amy Black to that list, who's penned a new album of songs, Memphis, scheduled for a June 2nd release.

Recorded at Scott Bomar's Electra-phonic Recording, the album earns its title with compositions perfectly suited to the Hi Rhythm Section sound. Black, who spent her childhood years in Alabama, and recently relocated to Nashville, started out mining the Americana vein when she began singing professionally 10 years ago in Boston. In 2015, she made a marked turn to soul with The Muscle Shoals Sessions, which featured legendary keyboardist Spooner Oldham. The sessions introduced her to embellishing songs with horns, to which, as she confesses, "I'm addicted."

The horns on Memphis are pitch-perfect. Arranged by trumpeter Marc Franklin, they evoke the classic blasts you know from old records, even while remaining focused on the needs of the song at hand. Franklin is joined by Kirk Smothers and Art Edmaiston on reeds; the trio is well-versed in the horn fills that define the Stax and Hi sounds. Locally, they can be heard with the new Love Light Orchestra, or in Bomar's group The Bo-Keys. Franklin also arranged the strings for Black's album, adding a dark resonance to "Nineteen" and lyrical swells to Black's cover of Otis Clay's "If I Could Reach Out (and Help Somebody)."

Of course, taking center stage are the Hodges brothers — Charles on organ and piano, Leroy on bass — and drummer Howard Grimes. Beyond the deep pocket, flashes of virtuosity are tempered with the restraint of seasoned players who know how to let a song breathe. Brother Mabon Lewis "Teenie" Hodges passed away three years ago — hard shoes to fill for a guitarist. But local journeyman Joe Restivo has come to master such soul stylings. On a few tracks, he is joined by fellow City Champs members Al Gamble (organ) and George Sluppick (drums). The Champs have a long history of emulating the Hi sound in their instrumental forays, and it shows here. Finally, where Restivo is absent, we hear former Stax guitarist Bobby Manuel on the axe. The result is a classic Memphis soul stew.

Surprisingly, these legends were a new discovery for Black. "The Hi Rhythm Section and the folks who recorded with Willie Mitchell are now favorites of mine, but a year ago, I didn't know about them." Working with them brought out new qualities in her music. "It's definitely a little bit dirtier, more from your gut. I am so drawn to that feel and sound. I didn't know that I could sing this music, and now it's what I do."

Having written or co-written most of the album's material, Black has clearly internalized the soul sounds she's only recently discovered. "What Makes a Man?," arguably the heaviest groove of the set, would stand alongside many a classic single of the 1970s, equal parts desire and dark, brooding reflection. Other numbers confidently break out a gritty blues shuffle or the upbeat soul of Wendy Rene. And there is a healthy dose of soul's most direct influence, gospel music. Both the cover of Otis Clay's song and Black's original "Let the Light In" stand as spiritual exhortations to aspire to our better angels.

As Black notes of the latter tune, "I had no idea how much we, as a country, would need this song. I wrote it for myself, to make sure that I'm letting light into my own darkness. But with events being what they are, it's a good time to sing it. I always dedicate it to Mavis [Staples]. Her spirit and music inspire and educate me. They represent the fight against darker forces and the need to persevere."

Amy Black will play at Lafayette's Music Room on July 6th.

Spaceface release one of spring’s essential albums

Jake Ingalls couldn't help being a little late calling me for our interview — he got hung up trying to survive sound check with the Flaming Lips at the Major Rager festival in Augusta, Georgia, where strong winds threatened to topple the stage. (I'm sure all those amplifiers, pounds of confetti, facsimile UFOs, and other Lips paraphernalia didn't help either.)

Ingalls, along with band mate Daniel Quinlan, called me not just to discuss the perilous nature of festival stages, but also to dish the dirt on Memphis-based Spaceface's new full-length record, Sun Kids (self-released). The sunny psych-rock band formed in 2011 or so with just Matt Strong, Jake Ingalls, and Eric Martin. Later, in 2012, Peter Armstrong, Victor Quinn Hill, and Daniel Quinlan joined the psychedelic trio. In time-honored Memphis tradition, the band shares most of its members with another local act, Strong Martian, and Ingalls, as previously mentioned, is a full-fledged member of the Oklahoma-based, Grammy-winning group the Flaming Lips.

Ingalls was inducted into the Lips in 2013 as a keyboardist and guitarist. By then, the Flaming Lips had already ridden a series of quirky hits like "She Don't Use Jelly" and the synth-heavy, psych-pop of "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, pt. 1" to stardom. The band released their 14th studio album this January, and, of course, Ingalls was credited on it (as were guest vocalists Miley Cyrus and Reggie Watts of Comedy Bang! Bang! fame). Membership in such a band opens doors — doubtless, Ingalls never expected to one day collaborate with Miley Cyrus — but it also creates interesting wrinkles in other plans. Scheduling, particularly, has been difficult for the sun kids in Memphis.

Spaceface recorded Sun Kids over a period of almost two years in three different studios. "That's how Spaceface tends to have to work anyway," Ingalls says, "with my being out of town all the time." The band worked when Ingalls wasn't globetrotting with the Lips and when they could make time between work, life, and Spaceface concerts.

The band recorded at Ardent, in their rehearsal space under Minglewood Hall, and at the Grove in Cordova. The circumstances in which the Memphis rockers tracked their debut album stood in stark contrast to the bright sounds that define it. "A bulk of the record was recorded all between the hours of midnight and four or five in the morning, in the dead of winter," Ingalls says. "Which is pretty funny because it's a pretty feel-good, springtime record."

Sun Kids is definitely a feel-good record, psychedelic in its spirit of sonic exploration, but firmly grounded by a tight rhythm section and occasional acoustic guitar hooks. "We all wanted to have a sort of earthy quality," Ingalls says. "I know our name's Spaceface, but we talked extensively about wanting to make something that sounded like it was from this plane of existence." With shimmering, clean guitar lines and high-and-lonesome vocals dancing over the aforementioned rhythm-section groove, Sun Kids has more in common with MGMT's Oracular Spectacular or Dr. Dog's Be the Void than with any of the sprawling jam bands who currently wave the tie-dyed flag of psychedelia. Most of the songs on Sun Kids clock in at around four-and-a-half minutes and have been tooled to pop precision.

Sun Kids feels fated to become the soundtrack to many Frisbee-themed trips to Shelby Farms. It's an album that implies a narrative, hints at a story, and the story is a little wild, a little weird, and quintessentially Memphis.

The band has previously released a handful of live and studio EPs, and their cover of King Crimson's progressive-rock classic "Moonchild" is not to be missed. Sun Kids is Spaceface's longest release to date — and their most lush and cohesive. Essential tracks include album-opener "Parachute," "Cowboy Lightning," the dark groove of "Spread Your Head," and "Time Shares," which features Julien Baker as a guest vocalist. "We knew she would kill it," Quinlan says.

Spaceface is packing up their phaser pedals, confetti cannons, and their giant parachute for a West Coast tour beginning this May, with dates in Los Angeles, Denver, Vancouver, and points in between. Sun Kids is available at local record stores and on iTunes and Spotify.

Sarah Simmons and Star & Micey Throw Benefit for Homeless Memphians
(image) Sarah Simmons was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but she says she owes a big debt to the Bluff City. She got her music education at the Visible Music College, jumpstarting her career that led her to a national television on the 2013 season of NBC's The Voice. Now that she's off the road after a 7 month world tour, she has returned to Memphis with her guitarist, who also happens to be her fianceé. They have something special prepared for the Memphis audience.

"We want to give back to Memphis in anyway that we can so we decided to have a benefit at Minglewood 1884 to raise money for a shelter," she says. "This is the first year but we want to do it one a year every year! We are calling it Rock for Shelter."

Joining Simmons and the band for the show Saturday night at Minglewood Hall's 1884 Lounge will be Memphis favorite sons Star & Micey.

Here's a taste of Simmons' work, with her latest music video "Staring at the Sun":

Let's Go: Peabody Rooftop Party
(image) It's Memphis Flyer Night tonight at the Peabody Rooftop Party.

Here are some vital stats for you to consider:

Entertainment is by the Ghost Town Blues Band.

Menu is barbecue-riffic with barbecue meatballs, popcorn chicken with barbecue dipping sauce, and barbecue chips. VIPs can nosh on ribs, pulled pork, and cole slaw.

AND AND AND, Michael Donahue will be manning the Flyer's new selfie wall, so for all y'all who've dreamed of having a selfie with Donahue, tonight's your night.

Listen Up: Harlan

m Harlan Hutton’s songs are like diary entries.

“Just about all my songs are usually trying to explain a very complicated feeling,” said Hutton, 19. “I used to just write so I could explain something to myself and just put it away and it’s gone.”

The songs are “just little diddlies. Like after Junior Cotillion and I’m feeling like I’m just going to get married at 20 and settle down in Memphis. The feeling that I was supposed to have after Junior Cotillion. Things like that. These little songs that are stupid about things I’ve been thinking.”

She let Gabe Hasty, 19, listen to one of her songs. “I remember hearing ‘Play Pretend’ for the first time and just curling up in a lawn chair and listening to it,” Hasty said. “It’s poetic. It really draws you in in a way that I don’t know. It’s just like sometimes when you hear something you can immediately know the quality. It’s just obvious sometimes. It was a phone recording. And it was done in probably two or three takes. But you can still hear the actual quality of the songwriting.”

He let Griffin Rone, 19, listen to it. “We knew we had to flesh that project out and play it as a band,” Hasty said.

With Hutton on lead vocals and guitar, Hasty on keyboards, Griffin on bass, Griffin’s brother, Ian Rone, 16, on synth and Miguel Pilcher, 21, on drums, the group recorded two of Hutton’s songs: “Foreverendeavor” and “Fingertips.”

They had so much fun recording the songs, which are on Bandcamp, they decided to play as a band.

Before playing music, dancing was Hutton’s main creative expression. “I did classical ballet for 13 years,” she said.

Hutton, who was a member of New Ballet Ensemble & School, said, “It came to a point where I needed to choose to become professional or not. And I chose ‘not.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not going to do it if I’m not going to go all the way with it.’”

Guitar was next. “I needed a new creative outlet, so I picked up the guitar and kind of taught myself how to play.”

Her mother helped her buy her first instrument - a $100 acoustic. “When you first start learning guitar there’s the bands that you want to listen to like the Strokes and that kind of stuff. Just learning how to play those kinds of songs is fun. And also helps you get over the painful learning curve of the guitar.”

She played in her room until she started hanging out with Hasty and Griffin, who also are in Melinda, one of the first local bands she used to go see.

Hasty began playing piano as a child. “When I was four years old my parents got me to start playing classical music, taking lessons,” he said. “At first they had to bribe me into with a GameCube.”

Around 14 “was when I really started to get into it.” Franz Liszt is his favorite, but he also likes Johann Sebastian Bach. “It’s the prototype for modern pop, I guess.”

Lucifer’s Canoe was Hasty’s first band. Then then joined Jimmy Shindig and the Wind Chimes with Griffin and Pilcher. “I got a Tascam 488 and started getting obsessed with recording music. That’s when Melinda was born. It was kind of a recording project.”
Griffin began playing bass after a friend said he wanted to start a band. “I was like, ‘You know what? I’ll pick up bass.’ And having never played really any string instrument, I figured it was the perfect place to start.”

He learned to play the stand-up bass after he joined the jazz band at Christian Brothers High School. That lead to private jazz lessons.

An actor, Griffin also played “Bill Black” in the “Sun Records” TV series.

Pilcher began playing piano as a child, but switched to drums when he was in elementary school at St. Ann Bartlett. “In fifth grade they made you choose,” he said. “Like you could either be in the choir or be in the band. And I was like, ‘I’m not going to be in choir.’”

He chose drums because that was the closest instrument to him in the room after he arrived late to the class. “The only place to sit was in the very back by the drums.”

Now, he said, “I’m obsessed with drums.”

Pilcher and Griffin formed Jimmy Shindig. “Our first show we ever played was at The New Daisy,” Griffin said. “It was a bunch of death metal bands. We were like rock and roll. We weren’t anywhere near death metal. We looked at all the names we were playing with and they were like, ‘Dark,’ ‘Death,’ “Cobra,’ ‘Evil,’ ‘Satan’s Eyeball,’ things like that. We were like, “Let’s find the silliest name. We’re going to be ‘Jimmy Shindig and the Wind Chimes.’”

Ian Rone, Griffin’s brother, began acting at 12 or 13 in a Playhouse on the Square production of “Peter Pan.” “I was ‘Twin No. 2’ in the Lost Boys,’” he said.

He picked up the bass when a friend suggested they start a band, Tiger Lake. “Griffin helped me for the first couple of band songs we made,” he said.

All the band members are in other projects. Griffin, Hasty and Hutton are in Melinda; Griffin, Pilcher, Ian, Hasty and Hutton are in Dave Bao Bao; Griffin and Pilcher are in the folky, jazzy Grandpaw Grew Trees and Griffin is in the indie rock band, Small.

Since she is two other bands besides Harlan, Hutton said she has band practice every day.

“It’s amazing, actually,” Griffin said. “It’s all the same people in different configurations that create a completely different style of music. Dave Bao Bao is borderline punk groove synth wave stuff. And then Harlan is very beautiful and melodic. It’s a lot sweeter than Dave Bao Bao. Dave Bao Bao is a little jarring.

“Sometimes we talk about making a super group. We’ve talked about going on tour this summer and doing three of the best songs from each band. It’d be kind of fun.”

“We’re going to call it ‘Transformers 5,’” Hasty said.

GRRL FEST. Doors open 7 p.m. May 20 at the Hi-Tone. Admission: $15.

Dan Montgomery Gets Real, Real "Gone."
(image) Sure as the Sun goes down over the Mississippi, Dan Montgomery makes good records. Gone's one of the best, bubbling over with give-me-more guitar tones, gorgeous production and real, honest to god songs.

Montgomery's a literate pop craftsman, in love with classics and not afraid to wink and blow sweet kisses to folks like the Everly Brothers, Beatles and Supremes. Gone is a mixed 10-track box shifting fluidly between hooky blue-collar rock, earnest honky tonk, and sweet soul shuffles, with the odd nod to 80's top-40 and 60's psyche.

"Falling Down," is a catchy as hell opener. Doing the dance is easy too according to Montgomery. "All it takes is two good knees." The hardest part is always getting up. Robert Mache's warm, shimmering guitars, and Candace Mache's backing vocals are sugar in the bowl of this and every ditty collected here.

On a disc with plenty of highlights tracks tracks 2 and 3 stand out. "She's Gone," has an overdriven Garage heart with a beautiful bit of sardonic laughter buried in the mix. When everything's in the rearview mirror, what else is there to do? "Sleeping Beauty," opens with a snatch of, "All I Have to Do is Dream," but quickly switches gears and grows into a middle-aged answer to "Wake Up Little Susie." Like one of those new fangled alarm clocks that call you to consciousness gently Jeremy Scott's sweet, sunny bass line is a terrific counterpoint to a song so sad and urgent. Realizing half a life's been slept away Montgomery pleads with his sleeping love to open her eyes and live. Edged with hope and still heartbreaking.

"Look at Us Now," is a country genre song about how those young people framed and hung up on the wall  barely resemble the older folks they turn into. Pitch perfect.

Gone ends with two dissimilar songs that work great together. "Gotta Go," is a rockabilly hip shaker with a big horn section that basically dials up Huey Lewis and invites his "Heart of Rock and Roll," to a knife fight. Then, after all that muscle and sweat, the band drops away for "A Little Tear." The closer finds Montgomery the troubadour picking plaintively and trying to make sense of the things we remember vs. the things we forget. "I could stay angry forever," he sings in the signature moment of what could be a signature song. "But lately I don't see the good that it does."  Like the man says, there's no shame in a little tear, and somewhere Burl Ives is shedding one.

More posts are loading...