Beale Street Caravan, the locally produced radio program which draws an estimated 2.5 million listeners each week, brought a few hundred Memphians to the New Daisy Theatre on Wednesday, January 17th, to celebrate its 10th anniversary at a three-hour filmed concert.
Jim, Luther, and Cody Dickinson's set included two takes of "Nighttime," Big Star's stirring, stripped-down homage to Midtown life, which singer Alex Chilton recorded with Jim Dickinson three-and-a-half decades ago. Afterwards, Stax alumnus William Bell strutted his stuff with The Bo-Keys, singing hits such as "You Don't Miss Your Water" as guitarist Skip Pitts, clad in jeans and a Hustle & Flow T-shirt, nodded and grooved behind him.
Sporting a velvet blazer and a U of M Tigers cap, rapper Al Kapone appeared next. "I come from the hip-hop side of the map," he informed the audience before bringing the Bo-Keys back onstage and name-checking B.B. King, WDIA, and songwriting team Porter and Hayes on "What About the Music," the ideal closer for a perfect night of Memphis music.
Now, Bo-Keys bassist Scott Bomar is headed to Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival, where Black Snake Moan premieres on Wednesday, January 24th. Bomar served as music supervisor for the film, written and directed by Craig Brewer, and at Sundance, he'll oversee performances by Bobby Rush, Kenny Brown, and Cedric Burnside, who will be playing a post-screening party at the Celsius Lounge.
"Al Kapone performed at Sundance for the Hustle & Flow premiere, and it was one of the wildest parties I've ever been to," Bomar recalls. "Even the Los Angeles premiere wasn't like that. [West Coast audiences] aren't exposed to much Memphis music. They'd never seen a rap show like Al's, and they've probably never seen a real blues show. Having Bobby Rush and Kenny and Cedric there is gonna add so much flavor to the party. It's like taking a piece of the South to Sundance."
"Forget the budget. The reason I don't shoot in Los Angeles or Canada or wherever is because I don't think anyone from central casting is gonna understand grooving to that beat the way we do in the South," says Brewer. "I can't help but want to create here."
Two days ago, the Black Snake Moan soundtrack, released by New West, hit store shelves. Laden with cuts from The Black Keys, Precious Bryant, and Jessie Mae Hemphill, plus recordings made expressly for the film (with star Samuel L. Jackson singing and backed by the likes of Brown and Burnside, Jason Freeman, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Big Jack Johnson) and samples of the score, as performed by Bomar, the Dickinson trio, and Charlie Musselwhite, it's a must-hear for fans of the Memphis and North Mississippi hill-country region.
This Friday, forgo the happy-hour drinking and head to Shangri-la Records at 1916 Madison. Last November, the record store inaugurated its indoor performance space with a free set by soul star Howard Tate, followed by The Wallendas, Harlan T. Bobo, Robby Grant & Alicja Trout, and Brooklyn UK.
"We've talked about it for a long time," says store owner Jared McStay, who inherited a long tradition of free outdoor concerts by the likes of Beat Happening, Guitar Wolf, and The Smugglers when he took over the business from Sherman Willmott in 1999.
"We do so many shows on the porch," McStay says, "and we wanted to do 'em without worrying about the weather."
Citing an unlikely windfall that came when Tower Records shut its doors and Nostalgia World deleted its vinyl stock, he says, "We got a lot of new racks, and at the same time, we expanded inventory to our back room, which made space for a stage."
McStay's running a 20 percent-off sale every Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., while the free music (this week, Monsieur Jeffrey Evans and Ross Johnson are playing) starts around 6 p.m. For more information, call 274-1916 or go to www.shangri.com.
Local rappers take note: The Southern Entertainment Awards are scheduled for the Grand Casino in Tunica this weekend. On Friday, January 26th, and Saturday, January 27th, there are several free components leading up to the main event. Don't miss the panel discussions, organized by Rap Coalition head -- and former Memphian -- Wendy Day, which will feature wisdom from locals such as MemphisRap.com proprietorM Town Luv, industry consultant Nam Moses, and K-97 DJs Lil Larry and Devin Steele. For more details, check out www.SEAPanels.com.