Adam West, who played Batman in the 1960s TV series, was remembered June 10 at the 901 Comics Anniversary Celebration. West died June 9 at age 88.
The week-long celebration of events, which commemorated the first year anniversary of the store at 2162 Young Avenue, included performances by Shamefinger, Gloryholes and The Turn It Offs June 10 in the gazebo at the corner of Cooper and Young. The event coincided with the Blythe & Young Block Party, which included Goner Records and other participating businesses.
The members of Shamefinger wore DC Comics superhero masks in honor of West.
“We’d already planned to dress up as superheroes in some form, but we decided to go with DC superheroes for Adam West,” said bass player Farmer Zanath.
Their costume was “a little $5 cardboard mask pack that we bought at Party City. It was a pack of Justice League superheroes.”
Who wore the Batman mask? “That would be me,” Farmer said. “I wanted it, but I left it up to the band.”
Asked why he was selected to be Batman, Farmer said. “I tend to write the darker, faster songs for the band, I guess.”
The band members didn’t wear the masks during the entire set, which opened with Nerf Herder’s theme for TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” “We found out the masks muffled our voices for the mike. (We) took off the masks and played the rest of the set.”
The 901 Comics store owners Shannon Merritt and Jaime Wright learned about West’s death from a customer. “I just thought how big of an impact he was on my life,” Shannon said. “I used to come home from school and watch Batman. And my friend across the street and I would grab towels from the linen closet and run around and play Batman. We didn’t have capes, so we would take towels and we’d safety pin a blue towel and a yellow towel on our shirts so we’re like Batman and Robin.”
One of the 901 Comics events was a show featuring art work by Memphis artist Dean Zachary, who drew Batman in “Batman: Day of Judgement” in 1999 for DC Comics. “I’d been working toward drawing Batman ‘cause that’s always been my favorite character,” said Dean, 54. “I’d done work for DC along the lines of Green Lantern and Superboy. Various showcase pieces.”
Asked why he liked the Batman character, Dean said, “The fact that individual was self disciplined and focused. And sort of that idea of someone who was not a superpower like a lot of the other heroes in the Spandex universe.”
Batman was “a good guy who trains constantly and stays on that level of excellence as far as training physically and mentally and keeping on the edge of technology. What attracted me was he was just a human being trying to make a difference. Protecting the innocent, putting the bad guys away.”
Dean was a fan of the Batman TV show. “I loved it. I was a little kid then. And that was my first introduction to superheroes. I would watch it on a black-and-white TV in my room. And when you would see that flame come out of the back of the batmobile and they slid down the bat pole, jumped in and drove off - I knew it was campy and silly then, but when you’re 5, you don’t really care.
“I thought Adam west brought a charm to the role. A playful, suave, lighthearted charm not unlike Roger Moore did in the Bond films. He was lighter and more playful, but he managed to ground the character enough to where, as a grade schooler, I was impressed and excited and entertained, but I thought it was the right look for Bruce Wayne and Batman.”
And, he said, West “had this unforgettable voice. You always knew when Adam West was talking. A singular voice very much like William Shatner. Not question who it its. For the time and for the stylization of that particular incarnation of the character, he was perfect.”
Rodney McDowell kicked back in a red plastic Adirondack chair at the Fourth Bluff Beer Garden, part of the Fourth Bluff Fridays weekly gathering. The Sheiks band was about to play at Memphis Park, formerly-named Confederate Park.. Other people staked out chairs or lolled on the grass under shade trees.
Fourth Bluff Fridays wasn’t the first time Rodney had been to the park. “I used to come down here before they ever had it when I was a little boy,” he said. “We’d ride down here on a bicycle.”
Fourth Bluff Fridays, which began last year, started the 2017 season in May and will conclude June 30.
“Fourth Bluff Fridays is part of the national initiative Reimagining the Civic Commons,” said Fourth Bluff Project programming curator Andria Lisle. “In Memphis, the project scope is four blocks of Downtown, including Cossitt Library, Memphis Park, Mississippi River Park and the promenade behind the University of Memphis Law School.”
The event includes games, food trucks, the TapBox beer trailer and bands. “All local bands and all local vendors,” said Blake Lichterman, who is managing Fourth Bluff Fridays.
Fourth Bluff Fridays is sponsored by Downtown Memphis Commission, Riverfront Development Commission, Innovate Memphis and the Mayor’s office.
Fourth Bluff Fridays is for people to “just just join for a common, peaceful event,” Blake said. “Essentially, this is just a party.”
Graham Winchester brought 200 little bits of paper to his band’s album release party May 26 at Young Avenue Deli. The paper included the download code for Until the End, the new album by Graham’s band, Winchester and the Ammunition.
“Each one had a picture of the album cover and it had just a little code written on it that you punched in on line to get a free album,” Graham said.
By the end of the concert, 180 of the little sheets of paper were gone, he said.
Graham, who said he had a blast at the concert, was impressed with the audience’s reaction. “Three out of the 10 songs on the album were kind of slower or more medium paced. To be able to play those kind of songs in a rowdy Friday-night bar and have everybody listen and absorb the music was really refreshing. I felt like people were listening closely.”
Graham described the band as “very sort of late ‘60s early ‘70s style with multiple layers of instruments. We’re definitely influenced by the latter era Beatles album and Beach Boys albums and Harry Nilsson. Stuff like that. Solo George Harrison. Stuff that’s got a big production going on. Even sometimes strings and horns.”
Graham has been in “about 40 bands” since he began playing drum at age 12. “It was just the instrument that matched my energy levels,” he said.