Tonight marks the unleashing of a project that has been years in the making, with scores of Memphis players. Linda Heck is practically a Bluff City institution, though she now lives in Sewanee. Indeed, she embodies the old Antenna Club scene when, in the wake of punk and new wave, things got weird. Linda Heck and the Train Wreck were fixtures on that scene, and even at that youngish age, Heck made her mark as a deft wordsmith with beguiling melodies and changes, delivered in a unique voice with theatrical aplomb.
She laid low for a spell, but in 2012 Heck released Transformed
, a tour de force
that boldly announced her return to music after many years of experimenting with adulthood. And it expressed that adulthood with a well-chosen cast of players: Doug Easley, John McClure, Kurt Ruleman, Jimi Inc., Jim Spake, Jim Duckworth, Rick Steff, Greg Easterly, and Jonathan Kirkscey all contributed.
Not long after that album, Heck took up even more experimentation, with any even larger cast of players. She became a regular on the local scene again, often with a sketchbook and ideas for fresh collaborations. Recording on the fly became her modus operandi — house sitting or couch surfing with microphones strung through people's living rooms, or showing up on porches with her laptop and a guitar. “Hi, let's do something for my Experimental Connections in the Memphis!” she'd say. And who could refuse? (Full disclosure: I certainly couldn't). From there, the songs would develop whichever way the wind blew.
The years of carpeing
have finally come to fruition with Heck's album release show tonight at Bar DKDC. It's an early one, perfect for those still experimenting with adulthood. And it will bring many of the best players in town together to recreate her most eclectic work. Experimental Connections in the Memphis
, or ExCITM
, goes even further afield than Transformed, featuring hip hop beats one minute, the live drumming of NOTS' Charlotte Watson the next; acoustic, electric, and treated guitars; synths, reeds, and children's voices; and a rotating circus of players and collaborators. “Poor Little Stray,” co-written with Greg Cartwright, is a standout track. All the tunes benefit from the creative, polished production (and musicianship) of Alan Hayes, whose House of Hayes studio has been a hidden gem of midtown for years.
But then, production is neither here nor there: when it comes to a live performance, Heck is sure to re-imagine every song in a fresh way. Yes, the band has been rehearsing, but her singing and playing can't help but spring from the moment. Check it out live tonight to see what surprises she has in store. There will also be a “Way Of The Memphis” sound installation made from field recordings and conversations with the late Rick Ivy, Ross Johnson, Don Share, Corey Mesler, and Nick Canterucci.
ExCITM album release party, Sept. 20 at Bar DKDC, 7:00 pm.