At the Hi-Tone Café this week, a couple of notable names in local music make a return with record-release shows on back-to-back nights.
On Thursday, December 4th, the band Good Luck Dark Star celebrates the release of their album You'll Need It. The band, named after the John Carpenter film Dark Star, is led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Bret Krock, who fronted energetic local faves Eighty Katie at the beginning of the decade and, more recently, was seen alongside several of the city's most prolific musicians in the bar band The Lights.
According to Krock, You'll Need It evolved out of an aborted Lights album project.
"That band dissolved over the course of a year while I was writing new songs to round out the album," Krock says. "I was ready to start recording, and they were losing interest."
The album was abandoned for a while and then restarted as a solo project, with Krock adding new songs to a few leftovers from the Lights repertoire. The final product is a departure from the energetic, more retro rock sound of Krock's last recorded incarnation, Eighty Katie, where everything seemed like an encore from Cheap Trick's Live at Budokan. The new music is slower, more melodic, and more textured though still very much in a classic-sounding rock vein.
"I guess I felt that if you weren't playing big rock songs you would lose people's attention," Krock says of the change. "It took me awhile to get out of that mindset. I got a piano and started writing on it. I really loved being in Eighty Katie, but I wanted to do something different. My tastes have also changed as I've gotten older. I'm not as scared of non-guitar songs. Basically, I went from writing a song I wanted to play live to something I wanted to record."
Nevertheless, Krock did get the itch to play live again, which led to recruiting a new batch of musicians to translate You'll Need It to the stage, including Preston Todd on drums, Johnny Guttery on guitar, and Dirk Kitterlin on bass.
"I've always been uncomfortable with putting my name on it," Krock says on converting what was essentially a solo project into a full-fledged band. "I like being in a band. It's much more fun. I like writing with other people and the camaraderie."
Good Luck Dark Star plays the Hi-Tone Thursday, December 4th. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $5.
The next night, one of the city's longest-running rock bands, punk-rock stalwarts Pezz, will return with their first batch of new recorded music since 2001 in the form of a split album with like-minded locals While I Breathe, I Hope. The record is being released by Makeshift Music.
Pezz, a Memphis music fixture for nearly 20 years, retains original members Marvin Stockwell and Ceylon Mooney, currently joined by now-longtime fixture Christian Walker and relatively recent addition Anthony Siracusa. Pezz's half of the 11-song split disc is inspired by Mooney's recent political activism, including trips with peace delegations to Palestine and Iraq. Some proceeds from sales of the record will go to the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. The band plans on recording a new full-length album next spring.
Pezz and While I Breathe, I Hope play the Hi-Tone Friday, December 5th, with Antique Curtains and Streetside Symphony also on the bill. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $5.
"Soul Cities" Premiere
The Memphis entry in the VH1 Soul television series Soul Cities debuts Tuesday, December 9th, at 8 p.m. Prominent music writer Nelson George hosts the series, which has already featured New Orleans and Philadelphia.
The Memphis installment visits such obvious attractions as the National Civil Rights Museum and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music but also makes less expected stops at places such as the Fourway Grill restaurant, Shangri-La Records in Midtown, and the Hattiloo Theatre. Among the interview subjects are Shangri-La Projects owner Sherman Willmott, filmmaker Craig Brewer, and soul singer (and Flyer staff member) Tonya Dyson, who performs. For more information, see blog.vh1.com/tag/soul-cities.