Memphis Punk Godfathers The Modifiers Honored With Memorial Show at The Hi Tone on Saturday

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The Modifiers' Bob Holmes (lower left), Milford Thompson (center), and Dave Catching (upper right) circa 1983.
  • The Modifiers' Bob Holmes (lower left), Milford Thompson (center), and Dave Catching (upper right) circa 1983.
Ask anyone on the scene in the early 1980s, and they will tell you The Modifiers was the best Memphis punk band you've never heard of. Founded by Bob Holmes and Milford Thompson, their shows at the Antenna club were unpredictable, and awesome. They were live legends, but despite flirting with numerous record labels, their pioneering punk music never got the national recognition it deserved.

Front man Milford Thompson died of a heart attack in the 1990s, and guitarist Dave Catching went on to be a founding member of Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal. Co-founder Bob Holmes, who was one of the greatest guitarists this city ever produced, returned to Memphis and lived here in obscurity until passing away from cancer just days after the Antenna historical marker was unveiled on Madison Avenue in October, 2019.

J.D. Reager, whose father John Paul Reager was The Modifiers on again, off again bassist, has organized a tribute show in honor of the legendary band for Saturday, March 7th at the Hi Tone. Among the performers will be Panther Burns drummer and noted raconteur Ross Johnson playing with Richard James; Billie Dove, featuring Memphis guitarist Jim Duckworth, who was also a Modifier (there were a lot of people in the Modifiers over the years); The River City Tanlines; Tape Deck; a Modifiers tribute set; and finally J.D. Reager and the Cold Blooded Three.

In 2012, the documentary I directed about the Antenna club and the vibrant music scene which sprang up around it premiered at the Indie Memphis Film Festival. It had a successful festival run, but a commercial release of Antenna has been repeatedly delayed by music rights issues. With the help of J.D. Reager, we managed to convince Bob Holmes, who had become something of a recluse, to do an interview for the film. For three hours, he regaled us with some of the wildest Memphis music stories I have ever had the good fortune to hear. In order to honor the passing of a Memphis musical genius, I have uploaded the Modifiers segments from Antenna to YouTube and present it here for the first time since 2012.



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