Unveiling Something Bigg At The African Place

New photo by John Shaw / Google Photos
New photo by John Shaw / Google Photos
New photo by John Shaw / Google Photos
New photo by John Shaw / Google Photos
New photo by John Shaw / Google Photos

My homeboy Otis Logan is one of Memphis’ best young drummers, so when he told me he would be playing for a singer named Bigg Smith at The African Place, I was intrigued, as I didn’t know the singer or the venue, but I made plans to attend. As it turned out, The African Place is the former Cafe 581 which had an extremely brief run about four years ago, and it is not usually a music venue, but rather more of a shop/gallery for imported African goods. All the same, the place was packed to overflowing, with a very small space for the band. The show opened with a few songs from an R & B singer named Lamar, but Bigg Smith proved to be an amazingly talented singer, with a warm voice that exudes confidence, and the backing band was first-rate as well. Smith’s repertoire included some originals, as well as covers ranging from Aretha Franklin to Jeffrey Osborne. All too soon it was over, but it was a Friday evening well-spent.


New Meets Old at the Plexx

1981 LA & Otis Logan1989 Otis Logan1983 4 Soul Band1986 Otis Logan1988 Jewel Jones1987 Jewel Jones1990 Otis Logan
Dr. Alfred Brown’s club called The Plexx in an old decrepit shopping center on E. H. Crump Boulevard in Memphis is one of the few places in the city where authentic old-school live blues and soul can be heard, but on the Friday night before Halloween, things took a slightly different turn, as veteran blues singer Jewel Jones was backed by the 4 Soul Band, consisting of some of Memphis’ best young musicians, including Lloyd Anderson on bass and drummer Otis Logan. While it’s common to think of there being something of a musical divide between young and old, the consummate talents of these young musicians enabled them to fit in perfectly with the older blues and soul offerings of Ms. Jones. Veteran Memphis drummer Willie Hall was in the crowd as well, and it was a great night of Memphis music off the beaten path and away from the tourist crowd

Showcasing Memphis’ Music Talent at On Location: Memphis

043 Jason Da Hater044 Jason da Hater045 One Word Band046 One Word Band047 One Word Band048 One Word Band050 One World Band051 One World Band052 One World Band053 One World Band054 One World Band055 Tori WhoDat056 Tori WhoDat057 Tori WhoDat058 Tori WhoDat059 Tori WhoDat061 Tori WhoDat062 Tori WhoDat063 Tori WhoDat066 TRDON067 Preauxx069 Otis Logan074 4 Soul Band075 4 Soul Band076 Otis Logan077 Tonya Dyson078 Otis Logan080 4 Soul Band081 4 Soul Band1815 Jason Da Hater1817 One Word Band1816 One Word Band1820 Tori WhoDat1823 Preauxx1824 Preauxx1826 Otis Logan1825 Otis Logan1827 4 Soul Band
While the annual Memphis Music and Heritage Festival was going on downtown, the On Location: Memphis Film and Music Festival was also taking place in Overton Square and in the Cooper-Young neighborhood. The music showcases were held in the basement of Cooper-Walker Place, and featured great Memphis musicians from all genres. Memphis hip-hop star Jason da Hater was on stage when I arrived, followed by a new local rock band called One Word. Then Tori WhoDat performed, along with Preauxx and other members of the TRDON camp. Perhaps the highlight of the afternoon showcase was 4 Soul’s performance, with Otis Logan on drums, and extraordinary Memphis vocalist Tonya Dyson fronting Memphis’ premiere neo-soul band. Over at Studio on the Square, a large crowd was watching a preview screening of an upcoming movie called The Man in 3B, with the filmmaker present. Altogether it was a great year for On Location: Memphis on its first Labor Day weekend.









Checking Out Memphis’ All-New Soul Band @TheObjekt12 at Memphis’ All-New Red Zone Sports Bar in Binghampton

028 Red Zone Midtown029 Objekt 12030 Objekt 12031 Objekt 12032 Objekt 12033 Objekt 12035 Objekt 12036 Objekt 12
I had read on the Memphis Flyer‘s website that a soul band called Objekt 12 would be playing at the new Red Zone Cigar and Sports Bar in the Broad Avenue Arts District, so when I left Havana Mix downtown, I headed that way, and could hardly find a place to park. The new Red Zone is a branch of the one on Winchester in Hickory Hill which has been open for several years. I have never been inside that location, but the new one (which is somewhat misleadingly called Red Zone Midtown) is quite elegant and comfortable inside. The live music was outside however, on a patio which was packed with people despite the heat and humidity. The band, Objekt 12, was not exactly what I was expecting in the way of a “soul band”, but might be better described as a “soulful” indie rock band. They were talented musicians however, and did some originals as well as covers. It’s always good to discover new Memphis musicians, and I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more from Objekt 12 in the future.

Red Zone Cigar and Sports Bar
2583 Broad Ave
Memphis, TN 38112
(901) 324-3102

Keep up with Objekt 12:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Objekt-12/347356182116173


http://www.objekt12.net

Mellow Cigars and Mellow Music at Memphis’ Havana Mix Cigar Lounge

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The
Havana Mix in downtown Memphis is primarily a cigar lounge, but occasionally books live music, often on Friday evenings. So when my drummer friend Otis Logan told me to come down because he was playing there, I did. The band was billed as the Havana Mix Band, and did a series of neo-soul and R & B classics for the ample crowd inside. Of course, as one would expect with a cigar bar, the place is not for those who don’t enjoy plenty of smoke. But the atmosphere is elegant and refined, and the music (when they have it) is first-rate.

Havana Mix Cigar Emporium
250 Peabody Pl #105
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 522-2909

The Cassie Bonner Band on the Square in Holly Springs

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Although the Delta of Mississippi is known as “The Land Where Blues Began”, the area to the east known as the Hill Country produced a unique style of blues that has become famous around the world. This subgenre of blues was especially prevalent in Marshall and Benton Counties, so it’s not surprising that Holly Springs, the county seat of Marshall County, is a town that emphasizes its blues heritage. The county was home to Junior Kimbrough and R. L. Burnside, and each Thursday night during the summer, Holly Springs sponsors a weekly live music concert called Blues in the Alley, which is held directly on the courthouse square. On July 9, the featured artist was the Cassie Bonner Band, a group from Oxford that I was not familiar with. Cassie Bonner proved to be a keyboard player and a singer, and while the group’s style was more neb-soul than blues, I was quite impressed with them, particularly the young drummer. There were also food vendors and a DJ, and a crowd of several hundred people, as well as a number of motorcyclists, and a camera crew filming a documentary about Holly Springs and David Caldwell, the owner of Aikei Pro’s Record Shop. I also ran into Hill Country Blues legend Little Joe Ayers on the square as well.

Keep up with Cassie Bonner:
https://www.facebook.com/cassie.bonner.9
https://www.facebook.com/cassie.bonner.33

https://myspace.com/cassiebonnersoul








Joshua McCain and the Soul Seven at Los Cabos in Hickory Hill

001 Soul Seven002 Soul Seven003 Joshua McCain004 Soul Seven005 Soul Seven007 Gerald Bailey & The Soul Seven008 Gerald Bailey & The Soul Seven009 Gerald Bailey010 Gerald Bailey011 Gerald Bailey012 Gerald Bailey & The Soul Seven015 Gerald Bailey & The Soul Seven016 Gerald Bailey017 Los Cabos018 The Soul Seven Band
A year or so ago, Joshua McCain & The Soul Seven were playing every week at a place in Hickory Hill called El Toro Loco, but were left without a regular home when that place quit booking live music. Now they have ended up right around the corner at Los Cabos on Quince, where they hold forth every Tuesday night. Featuring vocalist Gerald Bailey and keyboardist Joshua McCain, the Soul Seven performs a mix of instrumental originals and covers from Memphis’ favorite R & B artists, such as Bobby Womack, Willie Hutch, Frankie Beverly and Michael Jackson, and usually draws a crowd anywhere they play. With two birthday parties on this particular night, the audience was even larger than usual.

Keep up with Joshua McCain:

Los Cabos Mexican Bar & Grill
6542 Quince Rd
Memphis, TN 38119
(901) 433-9083



A Soulful Sunday in Southwind with the Prime Cut Band #LiveFromMemphis

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Audie Smith has been well-known around Memphis as an extraordinary keyboard player, so when I saw that his band Prime Cut was playing at the Southwind location of Huey’s on Sunday night, I made plans to go and check them out. Although Audie’s background is jazz, Prime Cut plays primarily neo-soul and R & B, although in a rather jazz-inflected way. His keyboard skills are absolutely tremendous, and the band featured a really soulful singer as well. Particularly impressive were jazzy takes on “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Help It”, neither one of them tunes usually associated with jazz. The music was great, and a decent crowd was in the house as well.



The Soulful Sounds of Tawanna Campbell at the Afterthought in Little Rock

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I was really not familiar with Tawanna Campbell at all, but I was in Little Rock on business, and saw that she was performing at the Afterthought Bistro and Bar, which is Little Rock’s oldest jazz club, and that her drummer was Cliff Aaron, so I decided to swing by and check out the show before driving back to Memphis. The band was first rate (Cliff is an amazing drummer) and Tawanna Campbell proved to be a great vocalist and an exquisite show personality on stage. The crowd was engaged through both sets, and unlike so many neb-soul shows, I was amazed at how diverse the crowd was- young and old, Black and white. The Afterthought is a wonderful venue, and this particular Friday night show was worth coming from Memphis to see.







Keep up with Tawanna Campbell:
https://www.facebook.com/tawanna.campbell?fref=browse_search

Keep up with The Afterthought Bistro and Bar:
http://www.afterthoughtbistroandbar.com
https://www.facebook.com/afterthoughtbistroandbar
https://www.reverbnation.com/venue/afterthoughtbistrobar