MemphisMusic @ SXSW at the Dirty Dog

20 03 2009

Yesterday over 700 SXSW registrants attended the  Memphis Music @ SXSW Day Party in Brush Square Park. It was a fabulous afternoon of Music. Two Way radio kicked things off.  Kate Crowder’s melodic voice filled the tent as attendees tasted Memphis BBQ from pitmaster John Wheeler. (Wheeler smoked the meat all night to prepare for the party)

Jump Back Jake and Dave Cousar also gave show stopping performances. The Hill Country Revue wrapped up the party with some real blues boogie that had people dancing outside of the tent. They were so energized by the performance that the band moved over to the trade show booth and knocked people out again with a short, acoustic set. 

The night time showcase took place on 6th Street’s Dirty Dog Bar. We had a solid crowd from start to close. The audiences changed with the styles but the fervor for Memphis music was the same.

sxsw-bar-kaysOur night showcase at the Dirty Dog was packed most of the evening to capcity. Jack O kicked it off right and The Bar Kays closed out the show. There were tons of Memphians in the house from Memphis College of Arts a-rctstudents who drove down to Music Commissioners and Craig Brewer.

Still, there’s a lot of good music left, with the Ardent, Goner and MusicMemphis showcases still to go!


Another piece of the Memphis Music Story – St. Blues Guitars

19 03 2009
st-blues-anniversary St. Blues Guitars was born in the heart of the Delta, where country tangled withe the blues and spawned the true birthplace of Rock & Roll, Memphis.

On the street now called Elvis Presley Boulevard, across the way from Graceland, Mike Ladd and Tom Keckler were doing something magical with guitars at Mike Ladd’s Guitar City.

Seems whenever these boys laid hands on someone’s guitar (such as Jimmy Page’s), the guitar just played a whole lot better. Hell, they even built one for the King. You can see him play it in “Aloha from Hawaii”.

In 1978, Keckler joined Tom Anderson and David Schecter out in California to turn Schecter Guitar Research from a parts supplier to a guitar company.

But anyone who’s ever lived in Memphis knows you can’t stay away long and in 1983 he came home and formed St. Blues Guitars with the founders of Strings and Things.His first creation was the “Bluesmaster”. Sometimes you hit it just right. He came up with a unique guitar that stands up to any classic guitar ever designed and it’s still being produced and played today. People who know a great guitar were quick to notice, and soon you would find a Bluesmaster in the hands of Eric Clapton, Bono, Albert King, Elliot Easton, Marshall Crenshaw, Glenn Frey, Billy Gibbons…. We could go on (we really could) but this isn’t a book.In 1989, St. Blues took a break, but like Memphis itself, you just gotta come back to a good thing. Players and dealers alike wouldn’t let it go, so in 2006 St. Blues was reborn with Keckler back at the wheel. Today every St. Blues guitar is finished and set up right here in Memphis and will always have its roots in this hallowed ground.

Introducing Dave Cousar

18 03 2009


See David Cousar at the Memphis Music @ SXSW Day party and the Six Degrees of Memphis day Party (3/20 at Shangrila).

There are thousands of artists today clamoring for space on internet blogs, constantly posting youtube videos, desperate to reach out to music lovers and grab their attention.  This works for many of them, but there are other musicians, like David Cousar, who remain truly underground, virtually hidden. An artist who has shunned the personal spotlight, he has avoided notoriety not out of ignorance or lack of ambition, but out of a desire to continually grow and craft a body of work.

At heart Cousar is a raconteur, and like any good storyteller, his material often dramatically shifts structures during live performances.  Equally comfortable with acoustic and electric guitar, he will seem to fearlessly direct a song in a new direction upon a sudden whim.  Over the last few years he has kept a weekly residency at the Buccaneer Lounge in midtown Memphis, a bar known for booking eclectic acts (boogaloo/soul one night, punk the next).  The atmosphere there sparked something and became a big part of how Cousar allowed his songs to progress.  “They are constantly evolving,” he says thoughtfully, “….virtually everything seems unfinished because I never play the song the same way.  Sometimes I will change the key just to make it sing differently.”

A roamer by nature, David has lived a lifetime full of lifetimes.  Over the course of the years he played and toured around the globe with artists from Jim Dickinson to Rufus and Carla Thomas, studied classical guitar theory, and recorded with the likes of Al Green, Willie Mitchell, and Memphis chanteuse Susan Marshall (backing vocalist for Cat Power’s The Greatest).  In addition to his regular gigs at “The Buc,” he can occasionally be spotted playing with Marshall, Star and Micey (Ardent Records), and his friends in Lucero.  Each of these experiences added a rich subtext to the way he hears music in general, especially his own.  “I played with in lots of different formats, as a journeyman guitarist…. but playing solo allows me to explore the guitar in a different way…. I like so many different kinds of music from chamber music, prepared guitar music to rootsy to beautiful pop songs.”

Recently signed to Archer Records in Memphis, Cousar spent a few weeks last fall putting his debut album on tape at their midtown studio.  The yet-to-be-titled record is a vibrant and stunningly textured journey that charges through a series outstanding new works.  With a deep vocal delivery often compared to Nick Cave and Tom Waits, Cousar’s rough growl commands attention, whether inhabiting wailing psychedelic rock or over hushed and haunting finger-picked melodies.  In addition to the original compositions, Cousar also breathes new life into songs like Lee Hazelwood’s “Some Velvet Morning”, with labelmate Amy LaVere guesting on the ghostly duet.  Be looking for the album later this spring or early this summer from Archer.

Flipside Memphis

18 03 2009

flipside_trailer1Flipside Memphis is a new web-series by Live From Memphis, the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau (MCVB), and MTV New Media.  Currently, there are 35 episodes in the works that are slated to premier along side Craig Brewer’s “Five Dollar Cover.” Flipside is about Memphis – cool stuff, cool people and cool place.

Watch the trailer

Flipside Memphis is a sponsor of the Memphis Music Foundation Presents Memphis Music @SXSW

Memphians Take BBQ Very Seriously

18 03 2009

john-wheelerIn Memphis we take our BBQ seriously. So seriously that for our Memphis Music @ SXSW Day party we have a pitmaster. 

Big John Wheeler enjoys a near celebrity status while traveling through the BBQ competition circuit. Fans lavish him with the appreciation typically reserved for TV chefs! In addition to his World Champ status, John has also trained the kitchen at New York City’s famed Rack and Soul Restaurant.


John’s Championships include:

· Memphis in May World Champion 2008
· Big State Festival BBQ Grand Champion
· Two time Memphis BBQ Association Team of the Year
· State Championships from Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Missouri, Virginia,
· New Jersey, New York and Texas
· Big Apple BBQ Block Party Top Selling Pitmaster
· 54 BBQ Contest Grand Championships
· Memphis BBQ Network certified judge and on MBA advisory board
· Over 25 First Place Sauce Awards
· More than 250 First Place Awards
· Winner of the Memphis in May Cook Off of Champions

Read more anout Big John.

Different kid of Q&A with Jake Rabinbach from Jump Back Jake

16 03 2009



We sat down with Jake Rabinbach from Jump Back Jake for a few not so serious questions. Here’s what he shared.

1) Tell me how many instruments you have in your home? 

2) What’s your favorite breakfast meal?
The blood of my enemies

3) Do you like a dog or a cat?
I have a dog named Jim.  He’s a bad man.

4) Tell us about one of your worst habit or quality?
Being in bands

5) What would be your first question to the people of Antarctica?
Which one of you drugged me and brought me to this cold, cold place.  

6) Which is your favorite language other than your native language?
German.  I’m a big fan of of the collaboration between Kurt Weil and Bertolt Brecht in the 20s and 30s. 

7) Mention some incidents when you laughed out loud
Once I laughed into my beer so hard that it splashed me in the eye.  .




See Jump Back Jake at the Memphis Means Music @SXSW Day party on March 19, Memphis Music @ SXSW booth between noon and 1:00pm on Friday or at Mother Egan’s friday night at 7:00pm.





First Band to Sign to Relaunched Ardent Label – Jump Back Jake

16 03 2009


See them Live: Thursday, March 19 at Memphis Music@SXSW Day Party  or Friday, March 20 at Mother Egan’s at 7:00pm

 While the name Jump Back Jake is directly aligned with lead singer/guitarist/lyricist Jake Rabinbach, the band is no one-man act. Instead, the quartet (and sometimes sextet) prides itself as being a group of players along the lines of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section or the Hawks. To cement that fact, lead guitarist Jake Vest, bassist Brandon Robertson and drummer Greg Faison, were all doing time in other successful bands (The Third Man, Snowglobe, and Antique Curtains, respectively) when they were approached to join JBJ. All it took was hearing the heavy grooves and hooks Rabinbach brought with him to Memphis from Brooklyn to convince his brethren in soul to take up the cause. It was a sound both familiar and new that the others were excited to explore. The concept behind the band was pretty simple; in terms of what they didn’t want to do. They did not intend to record music on computers, they were dead-set against overdubbing their vocal harmonies, and they did not want in any way to resemble your standard over-blogged indie rock. Alternatively, the plan has always been to bring their lean, muscular swamp–boogie sound to dives, roadhouses, frat bars, and rock clubs throughout the mid-south to continue to develop and expand their musical chops with each show.

Formed in 2006, Jump Back Jake plays raw soul-flavored rock and roll with dance grooves and horn lines that tout a modern writing approach.

Their debut record, “Brooklyn Hustle / Memphis Muscle,” produced by Pete Matthews at the legendary Ardent Studios, is the first release from Ardent Music, the newly reactivated Memphis label that launched power-pop pioneers Big Star.