The Coach & Four/Arma Secreta show that's scheduled for The Vault Friday, March 10th, is more than just a regular weekend gig. Shortly after unplugging his guitar and leaving the stage, Coach & Four guitarist Brad Stanfill will board a plane headed west, to his new home in Hawaii. It will be the group's last show for a while: Although Stanfill confirms plans to return to Memphis at some point, he can't commit to a date.
Right now, Stanfill and his bandmates -- co-singer and guitarist Luke White, drummer Daniel Farris, keyboardist J.D. Lovelace, and bassist Tony Dixon -- are cloistered inside Midtown studio Unclaimed Recordings, putting the final touches on an EP that they plan to release on the Makeshift label in late summer.
"It's the first time we've been able to go into the studio with someone else footing the bill," Stanfill says, "which is really nice."
The past couple of months have been active for the Coach & Four: Their 2004 debut disc, Unlimited Symmetry, is slated to go into a second pressing, and tracks from that album were picked up by XM Radio and broadcast via its (un)Signed station, Channel 52. The band recorded a cut, "Hearts & Arrows," that was included on the Makeshift #4 compilation released in February. And Stanfill recently released Nest, a disc of home recordings from his side project with collaborator John Garland, which is currently available at Shangri-La Records.
"People called and e-mailed us from all over the country after hearing us on XM," says White. "It was an amazing response, considering that because of school and work schedules, we never got out on the road."
"Every band has dreams of doing the whole tour thing -- the stadium dream," Stanfill says, "but all of us are ordinary working people who can't afford [the luxury of] playing music for a living."
Still, the Coach & Four managed to parlay the satellite radio airplay and MySpace networking into a bona fide success story, selling 1,000 copies of Unlimited Symmetry to a national audience.
While the band's on hold, White says that he plans to refocus his attention on a solo career and collaborations with other musicians on the Makeshift roster, including a possible songwriters tour similar to the Undertow Orchestra (featuring Vic Chesnutt, David Bazaan, Mark Eitzel, and Will Johnson) that hit the Hi-Tone Café last month.
"My agenda is completely open-ended," Stanfill says of his Hawaiian sabbatical. "I'll be blowin' in the wind, so to speak."
Mark your calendars for Monday, March 20th, the next meeting of the Musicians' Advisory Council, a spin-off of the Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission. While the MSCMC has proven wholly ineffectual, MAC -- led by chairman Richard Cushing, frontman for FreeWorld -- has managed to provide a positive forum for local musicians since its inception in early 2004. So far, the organization has run circles around its bogged-down-in-bureaucracy, government-subsidized counterpart, establishing a free parking initiative for Beale Street musicians, building a functioning Web site (at Memphis-Musicians.org), and launching a summer concert series in Court Square.
Attend MAC's monthly meetings, held in the boardroom at Emerge Memphis (516 Tennessee St.), and you can help pound out the details for the 2006 Court Square concert series, plot the creation of an annual, local music-awards show that will supersede the Premier Player Awards, and rub shoulders with industry professionals like Nashid Madyun, executive director of Discoveries of Gibson, a nonprofit division of Gibson Musical Instruments. Madyun will be delivering the details on an upcoming educational outreach program geared toward local players.
For more information, go to the MAC Web site or check out its MySpace page, http://groups.MySpace.com/MemphisMusicians.
After a successful first month, Hope Clayborn and the Broken String Collective are continuing their Thursday night residency at the Full Moon Club. Hip-hop group the Tunnel Clones, neo-soul singer Valencia Robinson, Solstice/Public Enemy guitarist Khari Wynn, and jazz-meets-soul vocalist Lynn Cardona have all jammed with Clayborn in sets that start at 9:30 p.m. For details, visit MySpace.com/HopeClayborn or BrokenStringRecords.com.