'From Memphis to the Mersey' forges trans-Atlantic bonds


Memphis & Liverpool on the board of the Cotton Exchange - THE COTTON MUSEUM
  • The Cotton Museum
  • Memphis & Liverpool on the board of the Cotton Exchange
Memphis has long figured in the musical imagination of Liverpool, England. One need only visit the Cotton Museum on Front Street to see the more fiduciary connections, as commodities made their way from the Mississippi shores to British ports for hundreds of years. But with the bills of sale went less mercantile influences, including songs and eventually records carried by seamen between such ports of call. The Beatles, especially George Harrison, were famously obsessed with Carl Perkins, Elvis, and other giants of Sun Records; they also nearly recorded Revolver at Stax Records, hoping to adopt the snap and crackle of the drums captured on McLemore Avenue.

But this fascination ran both ways. Nearly every guitar group springing out of Memphis was spurred on by the Beatles and other Merseyside groups. Certainly the Beatles loomed large over classic records by Tommy Burke and the Counts and, later, Big Star. Within the span of three years, Bobby Whitlock moved from recording handclaps during Stax sessions to contributing nearly all of the organ heard on Harrison's All Things Must Pass.

Thus, it's appropriate that these deep, soulful connections be recognized in a new program for songwriters called “From Memphis to the Mersey,” arising from a partnership between the local Memphis Music Exchange and Liverpool's Monkey Mind Productions. Described as “a songwriters’ exchange that will select two emerging artists from each city for an immersive cultural and creative experience on both sides of the ocean,” the program invites songsmiths to submit their work for consideration. They must be at least 21 and not currently signed to a label.

The lucky four judged most promising will work with Grammy-winning Stax legend William Bell and jazz singer/producer Susan Marshall from Memphis, and with Garry Christian and Joey Ankrah of The Christians, a Liverpool group that scored chart-toppers in the 80s and 90s. This August, spending three days in each city working with such legends, the winning contestants will gain a deeper insight into their craft and into the commonalities of their shared history. Each city visit will culminate in the songwriters presenting their work in concert.
Paul McCartney & Carl Perkins
  • Paul McCartney & Carl Perkins
“Hands across the water (water)/Heads across the sky!”, as Paul McCartney famously sang in “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.” Now's the chance, thanks to these nonprofits and the support of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau and Arts Council England, to reach out and make that connection more real than ever.

Interested parties should apply at the link below by 6 pm, Monday, July 26.

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