The 1990s lo-fi rock movement had its roots in Memphis and Ohio. All over the country, musicians were discovering the liberating power of the newly commercially available 4-track cassette recorders. An inexpensive Tascam, a couple of decent mics, and some persistence was all you needed to make a record—after all, The Beatles produced Sgt. Pepper with only four tracks. In Memphis, The Grifters and The Oblivians were creating new sounds by pushing the cheapo recording technology to its cacophonous limits. In Dayton, Ohio, disgruntled schoolteacher Robert Pollard was gathering his musician buddies in the house of Tobin Sprout, translating muscular, melodic rock into moody, intimate recordings. Guided By Voices albums like Bee Thousands and Alien Lanes sounded like transmissions from a radio station broadcasting through the static ether from a better timeline. The Grifters, touring in Ohio, hooked up with their musical compatriots and convinced them to hit the road. The first stop of the Grifter / Guided By Voices tour was in Memphis at Antenna club.
Tobin Sprout and Pollard parted ways in the late 1990s, transforming GBV from a group effort into a solo outlet for Pollard's impossibly prolific songwriting muse. Sprout embarked on a solo music career and pursued his muse into the fine art world. This Sunday evening, he returns to the city where GBV played their first out of town gig for a show in Memphis most unusual venue. The River Series, coordinated by Goner Records' Zach Ives, brings selected acts to the Harbor Town Amphitheater, tucked away in the Wolf River Harbor with a fantastic view of Downtown Memphis.
Joining Sprout will be Elf Power, an Athens, Georgia combo working within the lo fi constraints pioneered by Sprout and company.
The show starts at 3 PM on Sunday, May 21 at the Harbortown Amphitheater.