In the mid-'60s, with his now-iconic Rickenbacker 12-string, a whole bunch of Dylan covers, and his bandmates in the Byrds, Roger McGuinn invented "folk-rock." These days the rarely seen Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer seems devoted to folk without the rock catalyst. McGuinn's latest record, last year's Grammy-nominated Treasures From The Folk Den, is an acoustic songbook that demonstrates the basic folk repertoire. The new McGuinn will be in Memphis this week for In Their Own Words: American Troubadours, a song swap at the University of Memphis' Michael Rose Theatre sponsored by the Bornblum Solomon Schechter School. The concert will be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday, February 17th, with McGuinn joined by other mid-'60s folk-revival icons Melanie, Tom Paxton, and Tom Rush. Tickets are $39 and inquiries can be made by calling 272-9471 or 747-2665. -- Chris Herrington
Brooklyn (by way of Michigan) indie rockers The High Strung are one of any number of bands to crop up in recent years that desperately want to be the post-Revolver Beatles. You can hear traces of the Fab Four in every harmony, lurching melody, and sudden time change. Chant-like backing vocals of "la la la" and "love, love, love" might as well be samples from Magical Mystery Tour. While this kind of sonic appropriation can be tiresome (a theory local Beatle-ites like Richard Orange and Carson & Poole continue to prove), the High Strung do it absolutely right. It's more homage than imitation and, considering they only claim to be influenced by the "raw core energy of Detroit Rock & Roll," it might even be unconscious. But that's doubtful. Vocals by front-guys Mark Owen and Josh Malerman out-Lennon-and-McCartney Lennon and McCartney on every track of the group's fine if seemingly unfinished EP Soap. The High Strung will be playing a Sweetheart's Ball with Memphis' glorious VU standard-bearers American Deathray Music (who seem to be using the handle "Viva l'American Deathray Music" these days) on Thursday, February 14th, at the 2B Gallery (directly behind 656 Madison, off Orleans). The lineup also includes a DJ who goes by the name of Steve "Scratch" Perry. That has had me giggling all week long.
I'm working under the assumption that nobody needs to tell all you musically savvy folks out there to go see Merle ("boy, have I lived up to my name") Haggard at the Horseshoe Casino on Friday, February 15th. Hag may look like he was run over by some large earth-moving vehicle but he sounds better than ever, and his most recent songs stand up to Strangers classics from the '60s and '70s. The bottle may let you down sometimes, but ol' Hag just keeps getting better and better. -- Chris Davis