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P.A. Presents ...
(image) Fides and Katrina Coleman headline a night of music and comedy at the New Daisy.

Then comedian P.A. Sechler performed in the most recent Memphis Punk Fest, it was one of his first shows. After getting the invitation to join the bill, he ran through a short stand-up set in the time-slot between two punk bands. It made for an unconventional but memorable entrance onto the Memphis comedy scene, so maybe it's just evolution for Sechler to have assembled a diverse group of musicians and comics for his first "P.A. Presents" show this Friday at the New Daisy.

The Clinton, Mississippi-based indie-rock band Fides tops the music bill, with Katrina Coleman, the mastermind behind the Memphis Comedy Festival, serving as headliner for the comedy portion of the show. The other musical acts jump genres wildly, and include psychedelic rock, synthpop, and punk-influenced electropop on a bill that is already an amalgam of music and comedy. If you like to laugh and dance, then, with three comedians and four vastly different bands, "P. A. Presents" appears to offer a lot of bang for your buck.

"P.A. Presents" is Sechler's first show as curator, but the Cleveland, Mississippi, transplant says he wants the show to be an experience that wouldn't be found elsewhere. "It's not every day you get to play on Beale Street," Sechler says, and, to make sure the event is special, he has assembled a varied lineup of performers. The Renders, Surfwax, and the Ellie Badge will perform, and Joshua McLane and Christine Marie will keep the momentum rolling with comedy sets between music sets. You might recognize McLane as the drummer of HEELS and as one of the regulars from the popular "You Look Like A" comedy shows, further blurring the line between music and comedy on this bill.

Though there is a cornucopia of homegrown talent on display, the real gem of the night is headliners Fides. The band self-released their second full-length album, Across the Yard, last July, and on the strength of that record alone, they are well worth the price of admission.

Four years after the release of their self-titled first EP, Fides is a tight unit, and it's clear their time spent in the trenches of restaurants and bars in Mississippi has served them well. Tommy Bobo, Reed Smith, and Cody Sparkman recorded Across the Yard with Jacob Lifsey at the Delta Music Institute, (but I can't help but wonder what they would do in the hands of someone at High/Low or the Old Vacuum Shop, formerly Rocket Science Audio). The new 12-track album flows along dreamily, with powerful instrumental interludes resolving (I wanted to type "coalescing," as if there were some powerful occult chemistry at work) into breezily melodic verses. The ease with which the unsigned band manipulates the nuances of their songs bespeaks a lot of time spent playing together. Fides lists Colour Revolt as a major influence, and it's no surprise, given that both bands are based in Mississippi and Fides formed about the same time Colour Revolt signed, briefly, with Fat Possum Records. And I can't help but think that Fides owes some thanks to bands like Yo La Tengo and Television for their crisply melodic, dark-but-gentle sound. "Brain" is the stand-out track of Across the Yard, at times tender, at times strong and insistent, as chiming guitars give way to the swell of drums and tastefully applied keyboards.

On the comedy side of the bill, headliner Katrina Coleman is the reason to stick around. For a more in-depth look at the comedian, see Coleman's 2015 interview with the Flyer's own Fly on the Wall, or you can just trust Sechler when he says that Coleman is Memphis comedy royalty. As an integral part of the Memphis Comedy Festival and the "You Look Like A" comedy shows, Coleman has been making Memphis audiences laugh for years.

"It's going to be fun," Sechler says, "and that's what I want."

Unapolagetic
(image) IMAKEMADBEATS aims to break the Memphis hip hop mold

"Throughout my life, a lot of people have called me obsessive," says IMAKEMADBEATS. "If I took interest in something, it wasn't just 'I like that.' If I liked something, I usually went way deeper into it. Music was one of the first."

Back in the day, IMAKEMADBEATS was a kid from Orange Mound named James Dukes. Now, he's Memphis' most sought-after hip-hop producer and guru of Unapologetic, which he calls "A label? A collective? Maybe all of those things."

IMAKEMADBEATS got his musical start from his family. His father was an avid record hound with an encyclopedic soul, blues, and R&B collection. But in the car, he listened to just jazz — "the most artistic, calm, riff-changing, random jazz. That had the biggest influence on me," the producer says. "About a month ago, I asked him, 'Hey dad, why did you listen to jazz only in the car?' He said, 'That's because Memphis drivers can't drive. I needed something to calm me down.' ... Jazz was like music that was how my brain works. I liked how randomness didn't feel so random."

As a teenager, his musical tastes ranged from Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, and Gang Starr to Detroit techno, trip-hop, and rock. "If it sounded like magic, I loved it."

But he quickly found his eclectic taste marked him as an outsider. "When I got on the Orange Mound bus to go to school ... I'll never forget that. I had to be playing Three-Six, or nothing. If it ain't that, you're either gay or white or weird."

"I started making beats on a computer we found on the side of the street," he says. "My first group that I was in in high school was called The Strangers. We were called The Strangers because we felt like strangers in our own community. I lived here, I know every street here, I know your grandmother. But everyone tells me I act and sound like I'm from somewhere else."

IMAKEMADBEATS moved to New York quickly after he graduated from White Station High School and eventually became an engineer at Manhattan's Quad Recording Studios, where he worked with Talib Kweli, Common, Missy Elliott, Musiq Soulchild, Ludacris, and Solange Knowles, and many others. In 2009, he got a break to record his own album The Transcontinental with Roc C. He moved into lucrative soundtrack work and corporate jobs, and returned to Memphis in 2011 for family reasons, where he spent most of his time in his sound lab. Finally, a friend dragged him out of his solitude to see a show with Cities Aviv and PreauXX, and he found kindred spirits. "PreauXX, being the most popular guy ever, eventually pulled me out of the cage. He got me working with artists again and making my own music."

Better Left Unsaid is a seven-song EP of cut-up instrumental hip-hop IMAKEMADBEATS recorded in 11 days. Like the works of Madlib and Donuts-era J Dilla, the work defies conventional genre labels. Suffice it to say that IMAKEMADBEATS can do literally anything in a studio. After shopping the record to indie labels for a time, he decided that no one knew how to do the record justice but himself, so he founded Unapologetic. The album comes on a USB drive shaped like the IMAKEMADBEATS logo: a giant afro surrounding the artist's signature mask. There's also a comic book drawn by Gift Revolver to dramatize the story behind the track "Mother Sang to Us" and an animated video.

Unapologetic is just getting started. IMAKEMADBEATS is planning four more releases this year, including Stuntarious Vol. 2 compilation in May, gospel singer/songwriter Cameron Bethany in July, and hip-hop duo Kid Maestro and A Weirdo From Memphis' Enter Weird Maestro in September. The aim is to tap into the creativity of the dispossessed Memphis artists. "Unapologetic is my stand against being what you're supposed to be, externally, and just being what you are, which is what you're supposed to be."

To those who think Memphis, and the world, isn't ready for these new sounds, "The punch you didn't see coming is the one that hurts most."

Memory & Identity at the Elite Tombs of Amarna

 Please join the Egyptology Graduate Student Association on Tuesday evening, February 21st, in the University Center Theater (rm. 145), on the main campus of the University of Memphis, for a FREE public lecture by Dr. Gay Robins. A reception to meet the speaker will precede the talk.

Dr. Robins is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Art History at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She is also faculty consultant for ancient Egyptian Art at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory.  She will share her insights on how the art of the Amarna period tombs helped to perpetuate the identity and memory of the dead.

For more information, visit the IEAA web site at http://www.memphis.edu/egypt/events/#robins or contact the IEAA at 901.678.2555.

This special event is sponsored by the EGSA, the Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology, and Department of History of the University of Memphis.

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