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Two Shades of Memphis

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This week at the Hi-Tone Café you will have a chance to take in the present and future of the city's roots scene, as Americana siren Amy LaVere is paired with the up-and-coming local outlaw country outfit Dead Soldiers.

LaVere is stopping back home in the middle of a nationwide trek that will take the talented singer-songwriter/upright bassist and her stellar backing band up and down both coasts and across points in-between. Because of her busy tour schedule, Tuesday's appearance at the Hi-Tone will likely be LaVere's last local date of the summer.

But the main attraction could just as well be the support act Dead Soldiers.

The band is a Memphis-metal super-group of sorts featuring members of notable heavy bands the Unbeheld and Cremains. But make no mistake, Dead Soldiers is a bona-fide country band.

"I want to emphasize that we're not a metal-country or country-metal band in any sense of either of those two horrible sounding hyphenated words," singer/guitarist Michael Jasud says. "We're not necessarily even a straight country band, although I think outlaw country is one of the bigger influences. You know, we all grew up in the South, and I think there's a lot of that in there too. It does a kind of crooked take on a lot of American music and occasionally has some gypsy kind of baroque stuff in there as well. Hopefully, it makes people want to dance and stomp their feet."

Dead Soldiers just digitally released an excellent five-song debut EP currently available via the group's Bandcamp site (deadsoldierstn.bandcamp.com) and will have CD copies available at Tuesday's show.

"The transition from heavy music to playing more laid-back country stuff wasn't as difficult as you would think," singer/guitarist Ben Aviotti says. "Most of these songs came naturally to us. All of us have a pretty wide range of musical preference and ability."

Amy LaVere and Dead Soldiers perform Tuesday, July 3rd, at the Hi-Tone Café. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $7.

Buck Wilders Hits the Road

This week the Memphis music scene will lose one of its most vital contributors and supporters as the multi-faceted Andrew McCalla packs up and leaves town after more than a decade of involvement in the scene at different levels.

McCalla is perhaps best known as the popular soul-spinning DJ Buck Wilders. But he is also both a highly sought-after producer/engineer for many Memphis acts (and out-of-towners) and a talented drummer/musician, having played in the Perfect Fits, Manatees, and, most recently, Naan Violence. McCalla has also hosted WEVL's weekly radio program The Memphis Beat, regularly runs sound at the Hi-Tone Café, and works behind the counter at Shangri-La Records.

That all comes to an end this weekend, when McCalla relocates to another music mecca, Austin, Texas.

"It's definitely a big change," McCalla says. "I'm both excited and nervous. I've lived here for 32 years, my whole life. But I feel like if I don't do it now, I never will."

McCalla will soon assume soundman duties at the well-established Austin venue Red 7 thanks to a hook-up from friend and fellow Memphis ex-pat Dan Holloway. He's also got a weekly DJ gig on the books and is looking into finding a space for his studio gear.

More than anything, McCalla attributes his decision to move to Austin to the vibrancy of the city's music scene.

"I'm not a big fan of South By Southwest or anything, but Austin has an insanely fruitful music scene," he says. "Everything is such a battle here. I'm tired of having to worry if my job will be here tomorrow. I just want to enjoy being a part of it again. I'm not a big fan of Texas, either. It's probably my least favorite state. But Austin is an oasis. The whole town really has it's shit together. And I like the tacos."

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