The service region for the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy also includes Shreveport, which is a city with a recording past and which seems to be experiencing something of a musical rebirth since the opening of Brian and Brady Blade’s Blade Studios. Black Water Bride is one of Shreveport’s hot up-and-coming new bands, blending elements of country, rock, soul and other Louisiana music styles, and they were a natural opening act for our Recording Academy party at the Old Mint.
Memphis indie rocker Holly Cole has been fairly well-known in Memphis for several years, but this year has been the real break-out year for her latest venture, the trio with Jana Misener and Krista Wroten known as the Memphis Dawls. The Dawls, judging from their performance at the Levitt Shell for the Recording Academy shindig, bring a punk/indie sensibility to the kind of country/folk ethos that fueled Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. But there are tinges of jazz and soul as well, and appearance-wise, the trio cultivates a decidedly late-1940’s aesthetic. Certainly we’ve been hearing more about them this year, and from what I heard at the Shell, with good reason. All their recorded music can be mailordered by going to http://thememphisdawls.storenvy.com/, or it can be purchased for download at their Bandcamp site.
Quietly and methodically over the last several years, Mobile artist Sonny Bama has been building a following and creating a body of unique rap songs that incorporate country and rock influences, and now he’s ready to release his new album The Long Way Home this spring. In the meanwhile, he has dropped a video with Nashville rapper Jelly Roll for the song “Let’s Go”, featuring some great videographic work and some absolutely beautiful scenes of Mobile Bay.
Mississippi artist Jimbo Mathus first came to prominence as a member of swing revivalists Squirrel Nut Zippers. As a solo artist, he straddles a number of genres, with the musics of white and Black Mississippians as the main influences, so he often performs a heartbreaking country ballad followed by a driving funk tune or a Southern rock song.
Friday night, Mathus opened up the Horseshoe Blues Tent at the Beale Street Music Festival with his band the Tri-State Coalition, featuring mainly songs from his new Fat Possum release White Buffalo, including “Tennessee Walking Mare” and “In The Garden”, the latter a philosophical look at sin entering the Garden of Eden. After the set, the hard-working Mathus and his band left Memphis for a show in Greenwood, Mississippi on the same night!
Indie bluegrass band Son Volt emerged from the ruins of Uncle Tupelo, so I was thrilled when their new album Honky Tonk came across my desk. Upon putting it in my car stereo, I was immediately greeted by the cheerfully upbeat opener “Hearts and Minds” whose lyrics speak of “looking for love outside of danger” over a sunny, Cajun-like waltz. The rest of the album is a far more somber affair, with a typical country sound that is constantly being subverted by odd turns of poetic phrase in the lyrics. “Brick Walls” speaks of a relationship where “there’s more brick walls than bridges on the way to your heart”, and even “Wild Side”, a tribute to a gracious rebel reminds us that “we’ll all be tested anyway.” “Bakersfield” seems to be more about a location in the soul than a location on the map, and “Angel of the Blues” offers an ever-so-slightly more modern sound, which isn’t the blues per se but has quite the melancholy mood. “Seawall” seemingly carries forward the album’s underlying theme of divisions and barriers that was first introduced in “Brick Walls” and is also referred to in “Barricades.” Honky Tonk is an album firmly planted at the intersection of bluegrass, folk and Americana, a beautiful juxtaposition of traditional music with exquisite poetry.
Unfortunately, the end of the Colt Ford show was marred by a violent incident in the parking lot that led to a youth being taken to the hospital, Jackson TN, 9/20/12