Like his fellow Bluff City Backslider Jason Freeman, Mark Lemhouse plays a style of blues that sounds contemporary and painstakingly traditional all at once. Mixing up ragtime, rockabilly, and North Mississippi trance blues, his infrequent sets are a history lesson in Memphis music before 1960. His no-holds-barred interpretation of "One Hand Loose" won't make you forget Charlie Feathers, but it will make you mourn the great rockabilly blues man's passing all over again. Lemhouse's solid, good-natured vocals are buoyed by his ringing slide guitar and an abundance of energy. He'll be at the Young Avenue Deli on Friday, April 30th.
Joining Lemhouse is the always entertaining Bo-Keys. Led by bassist Scott Bomar and featuring several former Stax recording artists, the Bo-Keys play a laid-back and downright raunchy version of retro Memphis soul. They have backed such local legends as Rufus Thomas and Sir Mack Rice and do a mighty fine job all on their own. The Bo-Keys are without a doubt a band for all occasions and always worth a listen. The band will be celebrating the national release of its debut, The Royal Sessions, which hit the racks locally late last year but is getting a major national push this month.
You can read all about Makeshift Music in this week's special music issue, but the locally based label/collective radiates even further than the four artists that showed up on this year's poll. On Sunday, May 2nd, a quasi-local member of the Makeshift family, The Passport Again, will celebrate the release of its new EP, Hold On to the Memory, at the Hi-Tone CafÇ. The Passport Again is the collaboration of former Memphians J.D. Reager and Tommy Bateman, who are now based in Murfreesboro and Knoxville, respectively, and is tuneful indie-pop in the tradition of Makeshift stalwarts Snowglobe. Snowglobe's Brad Postlethwaite and fellow Makeshifter Blair Combest will also be performing.
Over at the Young Avenue Deli this week, post-rock notables Tortoise will be playing on Monday, May 3rd. But I say get there early to catch one of the openers, Beans, an underground rapper formerly of the group Antipop Consortium. Now solo, Beans splits the difference between the futuristic weirdness of Dr. Octagon and the middle-class keeping-it-real of the nation's backpack-rap masses. -- Chris Herrington