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Graham Winchester and the Ammunition Return with New Record
(image) The multi-talented Winchester may be the hardest-working man in Memphis music.

Graham Winchester may be the purest embodiment of what it means to be a Memphis musician. Hardworking (he currently plays anywhere from three to eight gigs a week with upwards of nine different bands) and immensely talented, Winchester has carved out a niche for himself in several corners of the city's often fragmented music scene through both relentless determination and his ability to charm almost anyone.

Though he's primarily known as a drummer with well-known local acts like the Shieks, Devil Train, and Jack Oblivian, Winchester is a capable multi-instrumentalist, proficient on at least 10 different instruments, and also something of an emerging presence as a singer-songwriter.

The success of his 2014 solo debut Graham Winchester and the relatively rapid ascent of his namesake group Winchester & the Ammunition are testaments to his sharp skills as both a songwriter and bandleader. Now he and the band are gearing up for the release of a follow-up (though technically the first using the Ammunition moniker) called Until the End, which is being released in digital formats this week by the label American Grapefruit. To celebrate, Winchester & the Ammunition will play a show Friday at 9:30 p.m. at Young Avenue Deli, along with guests Jana Misener and Victor Sawyer.

Flyer: What was your process for recording Until the End?

Winchester: I started at High/Low Recording in the summer of 2015 for this album. Toby Vest and Pete Matthews engineered it, and we were all a production team together. 

The two of them helped this record breathe and find itself. They helped sculpt every song. They are also amazingly aware of space. If you invite them into the production world of the songs, they will undoubtedly help in the best way.

How do you compare Until the End to your debut?

It's a little bit darker. The first album was more traditional, instrumentation-wise. Until the End uses more keyboards, especially synths. The lyrics ring in a little more personally. I don't know which album is better, but I know the second one feels better to play live in rehearsals.

You can and do play many of the instruments on your albums yourself; where does the band fit in?

The guys contributed so much — not only in terms of the playing and singing, but also in helping shape sonic landscapes on specific songs.

Is it ever difficult for you to make time for so many projects?

It can be strenuous, but I try to balance time with different bands and keep it all to a strict calendar. I like to explore different musical worlds, so that's the fulfilling reward of a tedious and busy schedule involving lots of different musicians.

Has starting a family affected your focus or availability for playing music?

I see making music as a natural act and one so important to my life. It's been really inspiring. Erica [Winchester's wife] and my son Everlee both love music, so we naturally have a lot of it in the house. I feel like I've slowed down my live shows maybe one gear lately to spend more time with family.

In recent years, you've become sort of famous for putting together lots of tribute and benefit shows around town.

I really enjoy putting together tribute and benefit shows and kind of just being a show booker of sorts. I breathed a huge sigh of relief that we successfully did a Talking Heads tribute when nobody had passed away. That's the plan from now on — try and [pay tribute to] people who are alive. Of course, if and when a true legend passes away, an honorable tribute is always a worthy remembrance.

To what do you attribute your ability to move within so many different sects of the local music scene? I just enjoy playing lots of types of music. Too much of anything gets boring to me. A lot of my close musician friends agree, and that's why we get along so well. I'm just happy musicians from a few different genres will put up with me!

Tobin Sprout and Elf Power Down By The River
(image) The 1990s lo-fi rock movement had its roots in Memphis and Ohio. All over the country, musicians were discovering the liberating power of the newly commercially available 4-track cassette recorders. An inexpensive Tascam, a couple of decent mics, and some persistence was all you needed to make a record—after all, The Beatles produced Sgt. Pepper with only four tracks. In Memphis, The Grifters and The Oblivians were creating new sounds by pushing the cheapo recording technology to its cacophonous limits. In Dayton, Ohio, disgruntled schoolteacher Robert Pollard was gathering his musician buddies in the house of Tobin Sprout, translating muscular, melodic rock into moody, intimate recordings. Guided By Voices albums like Bee Thousands and Alien Lanes sounded like transmissions from a radio station broadcasting through the static ether from a better timeline. The Grifters, touring in Ohio, hooked up with their musical compatriots and convinced them to hit the road. The first stop of the Grifter / Guided By Voices tour was in Memphis at Antenna club.

Tobin Sprout and Pollard parted ways in the late 1990s, transforming GBV from a group effort into a solo outlet for Pollard's impossibly prolific songwriting muse. Sprout embarked on a solo music career and pursued his muse into the fine art world. This Sunday evening, he returns to the city where GBV played their first out of town gig for a show in Memphis most unusual venue. The River Series, coordinated by Goner Records' Zach Ives, brings selected acts to the Harbor Town Amphitheater, tucked away in the Wolf River Harbor with a fantastic view of Downtown Memphis.

Joining Sprout will be Elf Power, an Athens, Georgia combo working within the lo fi constraints pioneered by Sprout and company.

The show starts at 3 PM on Sunday, May 21 at the Harbortown Amphitheater.
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":

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.
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.

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.

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