Last Saturday morning, shortly after sunrise, Robert Gordon commandeered the Lamplighter, the tiny Madison Avenue bar sandwiched between Zinnie's and Zinnie's East. Cameras were set up, lights were adjusted, and decorator Melissa Dunn arranged the set just so. Then, around 10 a.m., Gordon lifted a gourd megaphone to his mouth and began instructing the packed house to dance in their seats.
Author-turned-director Gordon was shooting a music video for Cat Power's "Lived In Bars."
The occasion was an auspicious one for Cat Power's Chan Marshall, who had not returned to Memphis since cutting The Greatest at Ardent Studios last year -- although she was slated for an appearance with her Memphis Rhythm Band at the Gibson Lounge in February. Citing Marshall's ill health, Matador Records pulled the plug on that gig and a subsequent tour. Last month, however, local musicians traveled to Arizona for rehearsals and a string of West Coast dates that included a stop at Coachella.
Extras for the video included Memphis Rhythm Band members Teenie Hodges, Steve Potts, Doug Easley, Rick Steff, Susan Marshall, Queen Ann Hines, Jim Spake, Scott Thompson, and Dave Smith, Gordon's daughters, Hodges' grandsons, and a handful of local luminaries, including Tom Foster, Charlie Miller, and Ross Johnson.
Tanned and lithe, Marshall shimmied and sang her way through the all-day shoot, which followed a segment shot at photographer William Eggleston's home the night before.
This week, the Memphis Rhythm Band accompanies Cat Power to Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Following a Late Show with David Letterman appearance on Tuesday, June 13th, the band will perform at Bonnaroo before flying to London to play at the Barbican Arts Centre later this month.
They said it couldn't be done: Last month, local group the Hometown Nobodies defied naysayers and blew past their self-set goal of recording 52 songs in 52 weeks. Now the band, anchored by guitarist Aaron Brame and drummer Justin Burks, has booked its first gig, slated for Murphy's this Wednesday, June 14th. Download their latest tunes at MySpace.com/HometownNobodies.
Soul music fans, take note: Concord Music Group, the company that purchased Stax/Fantasy last year, has issued new collections by Rance Allen, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Otis Redding, Albert King, Eddie Floyd, the Staple Singers, and Booker T. & the MGs. The single-disc compilations, dubbed "Stax Profiles," are curated by the likes of Steve Cropper, Huey Lewis, Elvis Costello, and Deanie Parker. Look for 'em at your favorite record store or drop into the gift shop at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
While you're digging through the bins, check out these other regional releases: Souvenir Satellite's Lucky Peso, featuring Meikle Gardner, sexy saxophonist Suzie Hendrix, and guitarist William Lee Ellis, on Electric Room Productions. There's a release party scheduled for Marshall Arts this Thursday, June 8th; Automusik's Hound Dog EP, released on the Austin-based label Chicken Ranch Records; the Persuaders' Forced To Fuck anthology on Shattered Records; Canadian duo the Leather Uppers' Bright Lights on Midtown imprint Goner Records; and the Bottle Rockets' Zoysia, produced by Jeff Powell at Ardent. Self-released efforts include garage-rock group 1057 Walker's 8 Screams; one-man band Johnny Lowebow's latest CD-R; Kazalok's Law of the Coyote; Michael Hurtt & His Haunted Hearts' Come Back To Louisiana, recorded at Scott Bomar's Electraphonic Studio; and P. Moses' new mix tape CD Pimpin' Pretty Vol 1. Meanwhile, Shout Factory's Forever Neil Diamond covers comp includes the Box Tops' version of "Ain't No Way" and Elvis Presley's take on "And the Grass Won't Pay No Mind."
Hot on the heels of Back 2Da Basics, Yo Gotti joins forces with Atlanta's red-hot beat maker DJ Drama for the I Told Ya So mix-tape CD, released last week on the Gangsta Grillz label. Weighing in with a hefty 23 songs, the album features Da Block Burnaz on "Work Hard, Play Hard," Nashville rappers Young Buck and Allstar on a thumpin' remix of "Gangsta Party," former Three 6 Mafia femme fatale La Chat on "Drop It Off," and a chilling remake of "Lean On Me" ("Just call on your homie," goes the chorus of this updated version) with Slim Thug and Lil Keke.