From Punk Fest to Italian Fest


Scotty Theunissen, Daniel Felts, Logan Dickerson, Kristen Marchese and John Kelton at Memphis Punk Fest 5. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Scotty Theunissen, Daniel Felts, Logan Dickerson, Kristen Marchese and John Kelton at Memphis Punk Fest 5.

More than 50 bands and five venues took part in Memphis Punk Fest 5, which began June 1 at the Hi-Tone and ended June 4 at Growlers.

“It’s more like a gift I do for the Memphis community,” said founder Tyler Miller. “Just bring people together to see what we can accomplish when we work together.”

Tyler is the one-man band who keeps everything running smoothly. “The entire festival is done by myself except for friends who give me rides and let me borrow stuff here and there.”

He credits Bristerfest founder Jack Simon for giving him the idea for the festival. They were hanging out at Jack’s house listening to punk rock when Simon said, “Man, you should have your own festival like Bristerfest and call it ‘Punk Fest,’” Tyler said.

About 20 bands were featured at the first festival, which was held over two days at the old Memphis Rehearsal Complex.

Tyler made up “Memphis Punk Promotions” as the “organization” putting on the festival. It later became a reality. “It just became an underground DIY booking company,” Tyler said.

This year will be the last Punk Fest - at least with Tyler at the helm. “I’m a musician at heart and I never get to work on my own craft. I play in a couple of bands here and there, but I never get to do my own songwriting or go on the road much at all.

“After this, I’m trying to chase the dream. I’m going to sign myself up to to play with a bunch of bands in a bunch of cities as a fill-in musician and travel the country in the next couple of years.”

He’s putting a team together to continue Memphis Punk Promotions to keep doing year-round booking.


Barrett Folk at Memphis Italian Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Barrett Folk at Memphis Italian Festival

“Penne Hardaway” was a Memphis Italian Festival team that obviously included basketball fans.

“It was either ‘Penne Hardaway’ or ‘Rigatoni Allen,’” said team member Barret Folk.

“We were one of two new teams,” Barret said. “We got a bunch of buddies that live in the neighborhood. It’s walking distance. We wouldn’t have to drive anywhere.”

Former Tiger Penny Hardaway and Memphis Grizzlies player Tony Allen probably would be honored to be part of one of the newest teams at the three-day festival, which ended June 3 at Marquette Park. Guests, including singer Lil Wyte, stopped by, DJ dudecalledrob (Rob Graham) kept the music going at night and chef Cole Jeanes, chef/owner of Preacher & Hunter caterers, cooked the spaghetti.

A graduate of L’Ecole Culinaire who worked at Porcellino’s Craft Butcher and Acre, Cole made a “classic Bolognese” spaghetti gravy. “But instead of white wine I used red wine and I used venison - local deer meat,” Cole said.

Red wine? “I like the richness it gives to the venison gravy. Then I added a sachet of rosemary and sage.”

Cole wished he had time to let the sauce sit for a day. “Something that simmers - a sauce or a gravy or short ribs - when you have the mirepoix - the carrot, celery and onions - with all that juice and herbs, if they sit for a day in the cooler temperature I feel like everything comes together and it’s a whole different experience.”

Penne Hardaway team members Joel Moss and Deven Onarheim - won first place in the grape stomping contest.

Joel credits their win to Deven, a University of Memphis graduate and former Tiger football player who played five years. Deven wears a size 15 shoe. “So, he pretty much cleared that bucket for me,” Joel said. “He’s six-foot seven. We each had to stomp for one minute and they measured how much juice was produced. He went first and made it very easy for me to win.”

“That was the first time I’ve ever done a grape stomp,” Deven said. “It felt good. I liked it. It was super hot outside. The grapes were nice and cold so it cooled me off a little bit.”

Asked how long it took him to stomp the grapes, Deven said, “It didn’t take me long. It’s almost like I’m cheating with these size 15 feet I’ve got.”

Sarah and Zach Nicholson at Lucky Cat Ramen - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Sarah and Zach Nicholson at Lucky Cat Ramen


Zach Nicholson is one lucky cat. His Lucky Cat Ramen, which opened to the public June 2, was a hit. Including the soft opening on June 1, the restaurant at Cooper at Peabody drew “in the neighborhood of 500, 600 people,” Zach said.

“Honestly, I was surprised. I knew that we had a strong following, but I did not expect us to have such a strong opening weekend. There are such popular competitors in the area. I thought we would do OK, but I think we surpassed our expectations.”

Actually, it’s not really luck; Zach has worked for chefs, including Erling Jensen, and at restaurants in Austin as well as Memphis during his almost 10-year career. He and his wife, Sarah, served ramen at their pop-up restaurant for several months at The Cove.
Their brick-and-mortar restaurant is Lucky Cat Ramen’s temporary location until the permanent Lucky Cat Ramen restaurant opens around November or December in Crosstown Complex.

The present location is open 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays and 5:30 until 11 p.m. or later on Fridays and Saturdays. The current menu includes pork bowls: spicy tan-tan, bacon shio, shoyu and miso, and the yuzu- veggie bowl. They also served steamed buns: grilled eggplant with nori yogurt and Memphis barbecue with sesame slaw.

So, how much ramen did Zach serve last weekend? “The ramen noodles are 5 ounces per serving. So, doing that math, we served about 150 pounds of noodles.”

Jordan Tubbs at Trashion Show - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Jordan Tubbs at Trashion Show


Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure. That was evident at the 2017 Trashion Show, held June 4 at - appropriately - ER2 - Electronic Responsible Recyclers. Clothing modeled at the Memphis City Beautiful Commission event was made from bottle caps, rubber tires, soft drink cans and plastic shopping bags.

About 40 artists, including students and professional designers, created clothing for the show, which drew more than 300 people.

“I thought it was better than ever,” said Memphis City Beautiful Commission executive director Eldra White. “Better than any of the shows we’ve had so far. It’s continued to grow.

“I think folks loved the venue once they got there. And the designers and the participants continue to wow the folks that attend. It’s amazing how much creativity we have in the city. And the willingness of the designers to to go to the extent they do to make things for us is amazing. They aren’t just paper doll creations; they are elaborate outfits that are made from all sorts of materials.”

Trashion Show did a great job of getting folks "to think about what they throw away, which is the main goal.”

“When they asked us to host this, we couldn’t say, ‘Yes,’ fast enough,” said ER2 CEO/co-owner Chris Ko. “It fit very well with us.”

His company is “focused on making a positive impact in the community.”

Memphis City Beautiful is “a light in the community we can highlight and support.”


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