Since 2004, Chris Milam has lived the life of the itinerant musician, playing more than a hundred dates a year, traveling, in the words of his song "Any Day Now," "From California/To Carolina/Surfing couches/And chasing gold." But, right now, Milam's thoughts aren't of the road. He is anxious for people to hear his new EP, Young Avenue.
"I'm just chomping at the bit," Milam says. "I'm very happy with it. I'm really proud of it. And I am thrilled with the job that everybody did on it."
The five songs, which were written over the course of a year, mark a significant transition for Milam, from solo singer-songwriter to bandleader. "I was doing a lot of stuff solo acoustic, and I guess it was folky. But now, I'm playing with a full band, and things are a little more rock leaning," he says.
Milam refuses both the folk and rock labels. "I consider myself a pop singer," he says. "In my mind, pop's not a dirty word. When I say pop, I'm thinking music from generations past — melody-based music." His musical imagination is firmly rooted in the music he grew up listening to: Simon & Garfunkel, Motown, Stax, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan.
Young Avenue features an all-star Memphis lineup, including bass ace Mark Stuart, Kevin Cubbins (who also produced) on guitar, Chris Thomasmeyer on drums, vocal support from the Memphis Dawls, and Al Gamble on keys.
"I love coming in with a song thought out and executing it. That's a great feeling," Milam says.
"But the best feeling in the studio is when I come in with an idea of how it's going to be, and we get started, and somebody else has a better idea, and we let the song grow. There's nothing like getting a really talented group of musicians in a room and just letting them go."
Chris Milam's Young Avenue record-release party will be Friday, September 21st, at the Hi-Tone Café. Mark Stuart, Al Gamble, Kait Lawson, and the Near Reaches open. Doors open at 9 p.m. $5.
Introducing the Gloryholes
Punk has always been the music of the outcast, but it has not always had a comfortable relationship with homosexuality. Gays have always had their own subculture and didn't need or want to wear safety pins and mohawks.
But none of that matters to the Gloryholes, Memphis' first all-gay punk band.
"We would like to show that the LGBT community can rock with the best of them," says guitarist Harry Manhole, who, along with bassist Gaycey Slater and drummer Tripod Rod, has set out to change that with ragged, raucous punk.
"I get asked a lot if I like certain acts that are popular with the gay community," Manhole says. "And when my response is no, I usually get, 'But why not? You're gay. You should like it.' I don't get why I have to like certain things because I'm gay. Why would anyone want to be a label or stereotype? I just wanna like what I like and do my own thing. I don't think I should have to be up with what others tell me."
The Gloryholes' meat-and-potatoes punk ranges from fast, Memphis-y garage to Bad Religion-inspired hardcore chunk.
"We try to have fun," Manhole says. "That's where it all really comes from. We've been accepted very well by the LGBT community, which has been awesome. Without their support, we wouldn't have gotten as far as we have in some aspects. We're glad we're an act that can entertain most any audience," Manhole says.
The Gloryholes play at the Hi-Tone Café on Thursday, September 20th, with Special Victims Unit, singer/actress/tattoo artist Ivy McLemore's new band, and the Bombay Alleys. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $5.