Volume 3-2012



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The photograph used for the "Big Rock Candy Mountain" cover above is a 1940 publicity shot of Woody Guthrie and Burl Ives in Central Park. Their casual closeness mirrors the homoerotic storyline of the song, in which a burly bum recruits a young boy into an alternative lifestyle, at least for awhile.  Since first being released in 1928, everything about "Big Rock Candy Mountain" has been controversial, especially its liquor references and its cheerful championing of sloth and laziness. It has been released in many versions, and sanitized as a children's tune. In the bite of its true form it is a true product of the Depression Era, an artifact of a  yearning need to believe in a place of ease and plenty. In that, it is a story type as old as written language, represented by the mythical land of "Cockaigne" in Middle French. This may be why my generation has long wanted to believe that the real meaning of this "children's song" we all grew up with - we got the clean versions on daytime TV - was  that "big rock candy mountain" was code for cocaine. The true concept is far deeper than that, which is why it is this election cycle's offering. U.S. politics is a sort of Cockaigne that is offered up in a presidential election year, with hard choices related to both "the home guard" and "the union card".  Click on the cover above to have a listen and see if you don't think 1928 sounds a lot relevant in 2012.



Memphis Rock'N Soul Hall of Fame - A plea for good intentions

Tim Ryan - Tool Cool for Just One Band

Amy Lavere - Memphis Upright

8 Days to Amsterdam - Memphis Power Pop

Reba Russell - Memphis Queen Rips up "When Love Came to Town"

Matt Nathansan on the SF Links


Building a Cult Following

Were you under the impression that Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, The Grateful Dead, and KISS got to the top on sheer talent? Story on the Artist Management page.

Mawazine International Music Festival -

Do Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey and Jimmy Cliff know anything about the North African regime they are supporting? Story on the RCJ...









Learning from Jimmy Iovine

Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine was featured in a recent piece in Rolling Stone, and it was one of those rare celebrity interviews that actually yield insight and useful information for people interested in music production and engineering. READ MORE...



(Click here)

New Releases on RARadio: "We Are All Stone" and "Those Machines" by Outer Minds; "Another Dream" by MMOSS; "Susannah" by Woolen Kits; Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and other dead celebrities / news by A SECRET PARTY; "I Miss the Day" by My Secret Island,  "Carriers of Light" by Brendan James; "The Last Time" by Model Stranger; "Last Call" by Jay; "Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; "Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" from Actress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; "Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio; Apteka "Striking Violet"; Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along"; Dana deChaby's progressive rock




"The Musical Meccas of the World"









Original Musical Compositions and Select Covers

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Special Projects




“In Memphis, it’s perfectly acceptable if you want to wake up and drink a mimosa on your porch and then just stay drunk all day and have a social afternoon. It’s in no way looked down upon to truly relax here. It’s OK to just really enjoy life.” - Amy Lavere


Blues Crossing

Rock'n the Blues in Memphis











Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and the National Registry of Historic Landmarks. Photographer Jeremy Atherton captured this shot of Beale Street, showing King’s Palace Cafe, Beale St. Tap Room, and Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall.

In 1903, trumpet-player W.C. Handy was recruited to Memphis to lead the Knights of Pythias Band, suggested by Booker T. Washington, who was teaching out at  Tuskegee Institute. It was an event in a long string of events in Memphis that would include the "Blues on Beale Street", a golden age of NAACP-supported, Black-owned businesses, and the foundations of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the form of Beale Street Baptist Church. The Ida B. Wells anti-segregationist paper Free Speech was published from Beale Street. Beale Street Baptist Church, Tennessee's oldest surviving African American Church edifice built in 1864, was also important in the early civil rights movement in Memphis. Despite the history Beale Street was in blight by the 1960s, until the City began taking steps to revitalize the area in honor of its place in America's story. On December 15, 1977, Beale Street was officially declared the "Home of the Blues" by an act of Congress. The area continues to fight for its survival, with its own rich history its primary asset on which to anchor its survival.

Stores and clubs on Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee. Photographed 23 May 2006. © Jeremy Atherton, 2006.

First Class Announced

Memphis Rock'n Soul Hall of Fame

The Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, envisioned as a linchpin of the City's riverfront development, has bloated to become an inauthentic, over-weight roster of second tier performers. One worries that the new Memphis Music Hall of Fame, which has a legitimate provenance, has been launched to become the Tennessee version of that debacle.


Museums are for warehousing and displaying people and things whose useful lives have become symbols of some aspect of human endeavor or evolution. The "hall of fame" concept extends that museum's mission along lines of conceit that link inductees to their influences on the experiences of the "tourists" who get in to see the exhibits. Tourism is, after all, the other vital differentiator between legitimate museums, of antiquities for instances, and "hall of fame" operations. Tourism is the purpose of the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, which was funded as a foundation project for the city's riverfront development agenda, and that mission of tourism is the reason the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame is such a wretched operation. New members must be continually introduced to the Hall of Fame to keep the "institution" somewhat relevant to rapidly changing generations of music fans. It, after all, intends to be not so much a museum of history as a "Best of" exhibit of popular music. The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York is similarly afflicted, though it operates at a far greater level of discretion in its affairs, and maintains a decorum in its proceedings that makes the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame look like "Animal House", which it is.

The only thing that will keep people coming to a museum after its initial opening is to offer exhibits of unquestioned authority in the fact of their existence, and to display these powerful symbols and artifacts in ways that honor their places in the experience of human and non-human kind. These are the hallmarks of the world's great museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Hermitage Museum: they stand as humanistic edifices designed to honor and protect the greatest achievements of humankind, or at least the greatest they have been able to procure.

The new Memphis Music Hall of Fame arrives linked to one of the United States' premiere museums of history, the Smithsonian, which provides sponsorship of the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum. This is good and appropriate because Memphis, Tennessee is one of those perfect musical flares from which heat has been generated and important pop music styles forged. These have emerged from the furnaces of Sun Records (Producer Sam Phillips, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis), Stax Records (Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MGs, Isaac Hayes) and Hi Records (Al Green, producer Willie Mitchell), and these are all worthy of historical perspective and tribute.

Unfortunately, at least from my perspective, the crime prints of tourist marketing are all over the rollout of the Memphis museum.

  • There is an "initial class" of hall of famers, with plans for an additional 20 years worth of inductees, until finally there are 300 illustrious Memphis musicians on display. They didn't include in the first batch, for instance, Johnny Cash, whose legacy they are presumably counting on for future event ticket sales.
  • Events are being staged by Willy Bearden, who has been helming the Memphis Blues Music Awards for the past 15 years, and who is producing a documentary on the Memphis Museum. Bearden has previously produced documentary films on Memphis institutions like Overton Park and Elmwood Cemetery.
  • The induction ceremony was produced as a gala event, rather like a television show, but with low emphasis on acceptance speeches and big emphasis on live performances and video tributes to Memphis music. Hall of Fame Inductee Bobby "Blue" Bland performed as part of the theme-based tribute to Memphis music.
  • There will not actually be a brick and mortar museum until mid-2013, and then it will only be in shared space. The hope is to eventually have a stand-alone building.

The first 25 inductees features some legends, some acts not from Memphis, and some people few outside of Memphis will have ever heard of, to wit:

  • Estelle Axton and Jim Stewart

  • Bobby “Blue” Bland

  • Booker T. and The MG’s

  • Lucie Campbell

  • George Coleman

  • Jim Dickinson

  • Al Green

  • W.C. Handy

  • Isaac Hayes

  • Howlin’ Wolf

  • B.B. King

  • Jerry Lee Lewis

  • Jimmie Lunceford

  • Professor W.T. McDaniel

  • Memphis Minnie

  • Willie Mitchell

  • Dewey Phillips

  • Sam Phillips

  • Elvis Presley

  • Otis Redding

  • The Staple Singers

  • Rufus Thomas

  • Three 6 Mafia

  • Nat D. Williams

  • ZZ Top

Regarding the Estelle Axton and Jim Stewart's of the world, certainly a museum educating people to their largely unknown contributions to popular music would surely be a worthy mission, and so the Memphis Museum has such an education commitment.

On the other hand, as rich as Memphis music history is, are there really 300 people who can legitimately be presented as foundational to Memphis' contribution to popular sound? The answer to that, of course, is entirely subjective and in the hands of Rock 'n' Soul executive director John Doyle and his board. If they are curators, one will see this museum develop in a manner that truly honors Memphis' great legacy. On the other hand, if they are curators they will likely find their venture unsustainable, because no one treks to Memphis, Tennessee to immerse themselves in the steamy delta heat that gave birth to all of these soul shakers. That is for the sanitized tourist industry that is Graceland, and the cracker path rarely leads to Beale Street, where things get dark and threatening, like rock'n soul itself.

That said, the City of Memphis through the Beale Street Development Corporation (BSDC) has been active since 1973 in improving Beale Street, though a messy partnership arrangement with a property management operation (Performa) has denied any financial benefits to either BSDC or the City. That has derailed the development plans for Beale Street, though occasionally the area from Second the Fourth Street the scene of public events. During the Memphis in May celebration, the Beale Street Music Festival brings major music acts to Tom Lee Park on the Mississippi River. This kicks off a citywide celebration.

The Hall of Fame event was held at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, at 255 Main, which for the record is nowhere near Beale Street.

Perhaps my focus on Beale Street is inappropriate in a story about the new Memphis Rock'n Soul Hall of Fame, which begins life without any fixed location. Beale Street, on the other hand, feels to Memphis the way Treme feels to New Orleans, which is to say the heart and soul of a distinguishing city character. If one if going to celebrate Memphis music, isn't it rightly done in the soul of the beast? To do otherwise would be to pay tribute to Hollywood with an exhibit in Van Nuys, or to honor the Mersey sound with a tourist shop along the Seine. Or, now that I think of it, to place the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Moves like that last one are a dead give away that this here museum is more of a commercial exploitation than a legitimate tribute to music makers who largely had little connection to such filthy lucre. Let us hope the Memphis Rock'n Soul Museum goes the more honorable direction and follows the lead of the sponsoring Smithsonian.            112712

Antenna Shoes - "Wait"

Ardent Sessions Capture Abbey Road Vibe

Singer-Songwriter Tim Regan does a lot of bands. Regan and the circle of musicians who make up his various projects -- neo-psychedelic rock band Snowglobe; indie pop outfit Oh No! Oh My!; and Antenna Shoes. They are all ridiculously cool. This video of "Wait" has a particularly pleasing Beatles recording session vibe.


Upright Girl Amy Lavere

Singing Dark and Thoughtful

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana and a native of Bethany, Texas, Amy Lavere is a self-described “General Motors brat” whose father’s jobs kept her small family frequently on the move. Her life as a touring musician seems tailor-made for a woman who is seemingly one part upright bassist and another part gypsy. Of late, Amy says she’s been surprised at how much she’s enjoyed “nesting” in the Midtown Memphis home she shares with Paul Taylor, her boyfriend and collaborator. Typical afternoons have found her in between bursts of household chores, sips of warm tea, back-scratches for her lab mix, Charlie, and living-room band practice with Paul and guitarist Steve Selvidge. In the early evening, with the temperature hovering in the teens outside, there’s dinner as classical music plays underneath.


8 Days to Amsterdam

Power Pop from Memphis

Originally a six member group, 8 Days to Amsterdam gradually changed as the commitment to being a musician took it's toll on regular life. Lead singer and songwriter Jeff Crosslin, bassist Matt Meyer, and guitarist/vocalist Chris Grantham grew up together. Jeff met drummer Bill Reed while working together at a music store in Memphis. After recording a demo at Ardent Studios, the bnad received immediate airplay on 93X, Memphis' biggest rock station, and secured a huge Memphis fan base whose requests for our songs quickly got to an annoying level for the dj's. 8 Days to Amsterdam has a sizeable nationwide fan base through myspace, and are adding new fans daily. They were chosen to play the 2005 93Xmas concert with headliners P.O.D, Taproot, and Cold, and just a few weeks later, in July 06, we were featured on the CBS Early Show from New York in their Living Room Live contest.



Memphis Queen Reba Russell

"When Love Came to Town"


Reba Russell Band, with Reba Russell on Vocals, Wayne Russell Bass, Josh Roberts Lead Guitar, Robert Nighthawk Keyboard and Doug McMinn Drums

Somewhere between the full throated, gospel charged firepower of Bonnie Bramlett and the gentle, seductive soul of early Rita Coolidge, you'll find Memphis singer songwriter Reba Russell sitting pretty. Like Coolidge and Bramlett, she's made her name as backup singer providing aural ammunition for acts ranging from Jimmy Thackery, Johnny Cash and U2, to Tracy Nelson and Walter Trout. So, after taking part in hundreds of productions together with five solid solo records of her own, the fact that she's learned a thing or two along the way is self-evident with Broke Down. Subtlety and the school of less is more is a lesson learned from friend and Memphis-based mentor Jim Dickinson. It is what this release is all about as Russell showcases her own tunes, some of her band members and a blend of covers by EG Kight and William Lee Ellis. The result is a near-eclectic set of 13 songs that run the gamut of blues, R&B and everything -in-between, reflective of her chosen home town.

The Beale Street Flippers

Flipping entertainment as featured on "America's Got Talent".



Music News from Memphis


Ingram Hill

Memphis-based rock trio Ingram Hill released an acoustic album, “Blue Room Afternoon,” last June which is available physically at shows and on the band’s web store; iTunes is the exclusive download retailer for the album. Produced by lead vocalist/guitarist Justin Moore, the album is of the “living room sessions” sort – an intimate re-recording of past hits and fan favorites. “Blue Room Afternoon” followed on the heels of 2010’s “Look Your Best,” which was produced by Rick Beato (Billionaire, Michelle Malone, Flickerstick, Shinedown); the band had worked with Beato on their first full-length, 2004’s “June’s Picture Show.” The band was previously signed to Hollywood Records and released two albums on the label: the aforementioned “June’s Picture Show,” which boasted two Billboard charting Hot AC radio hits (“Will I Ever Make It Home” and “Almost Perfect,” both of which also appeared on “Blue Room Afternoon” in a new acoustic format); and 2007’s “Cold In California.” Ingram Hill has toured extensively and has shared stages with Maroon 5, Hanson, Sister Hazel, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Better Than Ezra. Ingram Hill is: Justin Moore (lead vocals, guitar), Phil Bogard (guitar), Zach Kirk (bass).


LISTING OF MEMPHIS MUSIC SPOTS (CLICK HERE) TO GO TO MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE. Excellent resource: Memphis Sound Entertainment, for complete event production: sound systems, stages, lights, power generators, chairs, tables, tentns, and more! Click here.


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©Rick Alan Rice (RAR), November, 2012