by Chris Shaw
This weekend two hometown heavyweights, The Barbaras and the Oblivians, will reunite for the final concert at the iconic Hi-Tone music venue. But as with most heavily anticipated musical events in Memphis, a pre-party is in order.
Fortunately, the newest watering hole in Cooper-Young, Bar DKDC, has your pre-game rituals covered. Reigning Sound founder/ Oblivians member/one-time Memphian Greg Cartwright kicks off the weekend festivities tonight with a solo performance at DKDC (formerly DO sushi). Known for inserting his southern drawl amidst carefully crafted garage-pop songs, Cartwright’s solo performances are as captive as the full-band experience he produces with the Reigning Sound. Here’s a video of Greg performing solo at last years “Atlanta Mess Around,” an annual garage rock festival that takes place further down south.
Keeping with the tradition of homecomings and reunions, ex-Hi-Tone sound man/former Manatees member/Shangri-La Records guru Andrew McCalla returns to Memphis and joins forces tomorrow night with Eric Hermeyer to re-form Buck Wilders and the Hookup, the DJ duo that was responsible for many late-night dance parties around the Midtown area several years ago. McCalla moved to Austin last year to pursue a career in sound engineering. We caught up with him and asked him how he felt about returning to Memphis and to recall some of his favorite memories of the Hi-Tone.
Flyer: It seems like when you lived in Memphis, you lived and breathed music, working at a record store during the day and running sound at night. On top of that you recorded bands on the weekend. Do you miss that? How sustainable is that kind of lifestyle in Austin?
McCalla: Actually, it sounds like I might be getting a job at a record store here, so I might be getting right back into that. I’ve also been recording John Wesley Coleman (Goner Records) almost every week. I totally do miss Memphis for how laidback it was. In Austin, there’s just so many bands and so many people recording and playing in bands. It seems like I’m getting back into doing exactly what I was doing in Memphis. It’s just taking a little bit longer to get back into that routine.
How long have you and Eric been spinning records together, and how long has it been since you and him worked together? Anything special planned for tomorrow night that you wouldn’t normally do?
Nah, there’s nothing planned that we normally wouldn’t do. I honestly can’t think of what year he moved here, but I know I started DJ-ing with him shortly after he moved to Memphis, which means we’ve been working together for at least eight years. Last time we spun together was at my going away party last summer.
As a former employee of the Hi-Tone, you’ve probably seen some crazy stuff go down over the years. Are there any performances or events that stick out in your mind?
I’ll definitely never forget the Question Mark and the Mysterians show, and seeing Blue Cheer there was pretty awesome too. Everybody always talks about Elvis Costello as the most memorable show, but I didn’t care for that at all. Billy Bob Thornton played the Hi-Tone once and Jerry Lee Lewis came and watched and left in the middle of it. I was working security that night, and they had to have me walk Jerry Lee Lewis through the whole building so he could get out the back. I had to escort him, and it was pretty funny saying, “Coming through, it’s Jerry Lee Lewis, get out of the way!” One of the most ridiculous things I did was light my crash cymbal on fire while the Oh Sees played on the floor a couple summers ago.
What are you expecting Saturday to be like? I’m predicting lots of glitter and maybe a little blood during the Barbaras? Any predictions?
I think people are going to have a good time. There’s going to be some emotional folks in there for sure. People have already told me it’s going to get emotional. I don’t know how other people are taking it, but the people who are there all the time and the employees will probably get a little emotional. The Hi-Tone was a big part of those peoples' everyday life. I mean, it sucks its closing but it was bound to happen, so if they’re going to go out, might as well go out with the Oblivians.