Great news for audiophiles and fans of classic guitar pop: Peter Holsapple is on his way to Memphis to play an intimate show at Otherlands Coffee Bar on Friday, December 14th.
Holsapple's name may not be a household word, but it should be. In the 1980s, as the bed-headed and bespectacled singer/songwriter for North Carolina's The dBs, Holsapple bridged the gap between Big Star's lush power pop and the Replacements' thoughtfully ragged barroom rock. Cliché terms like "jangle pop" and "jangly guitars" were practically invented to describe Holsapple's sound, as well as the sound of his kindred spirits in R.E.M.
The dBs' commercial success never matched the band's influence, and when the group broke up in 1988, Holsapple hooked up with R.E.M., whose career was just beginning to take off. In addition to playing guitar and keyboards, he helped to write several songs on the band's major commercial breakthrough, Out of Time.
After parting ways with R.E.M., Holsapple worked as a sideman for Hootie & the Blowfish and played with The Continental Drifters, an underappreciated superband featuring Vicki Peterson of the Bangles, as well as Robert Mache and Mark Walton of the Dream Syndicate.
Holsapple returned to North Carolina after Hurricane Katrina, and in recent years he's regrouped the dBs for a handful of shows. Hopefully, his Otherlands set will include some vintage material as well as a sneak preview of what the dBs will be doing next. Locals Van Duren and Dan Montgomery open the show, which starts at 8 p.m., with Holsapple scheduled to perform at 10 p.m. Admission is $5.
— Chris Davis
The most underrated local album of the year? Probably World Wide Open, the second album from hip-hop trio Tunnel Clones — DJ Redeye Jedi and MCs Bosco and Rachi. Rather than just a nice change of pace from the standard-issue style of most Memphis rap, World Wide Open (like the band's debut, Concrete Jungle, only more so) is a strong, confident record — densely musical (opening with Steely Dan, closing in Africa, supplying considerable funk in between) with smart, grounded flows and terrific backing vocals. Tunnel Clones play a Christmas show at the Hi-Tone Café Friday, December 14th. Doors open at 9 p.m.; admission is $10.
The party spills over the next night at the Hi-Tone, when Shangri-La Records will throw its annual Christmas party. Garage-rock heroes Jack Oblivian & the Tennessee Tearjerkers will headline the show, which will also feature a performance from Those Darlin's, a female bluegrass trio from Murfreesboro. Resident Shangri-La DJs Buck Wilders & The Hook-Up will keep things moving between sets. Admission is $5 with a nonperishable food donation to the Memphis Food Bank. The Shangri-La Christmas party is at the Hi-Tone Saturday, December 15th. Showtime is 9 p.m.
— Chris Herrington
Riffs: On December 10th, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music opened a new exhibit, Otis Redding: From Macon to Memphis, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Redding's death. Culled from the personal collection of Redding's widow, Zelma, the exhibit will run through April 30th. ... Congratulations to Kirk Whalum and Three 6 Mafia, who were among the Memphis-connected artists to receive Grammy nominations last week. Saxophonist Whalum, currently artist in residence at the Stax Music Academy, was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album for Roundtrip. Three 6 Mafia was involved in the writing and producing of UGK's "Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)," which was nominated for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. ... The dates have been announced for the seventh annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which will take place June 12th-15th in Manchester, Tennessee. ... Congratulations to frequent Flyer contributor Andrew Earles, whose prank-call comedy discs Just Farr a Laugh Vol. 1 and 2, which he produced with New Yorker Jeffrey Jensen, will be re-released by venerable New York indie label Matador Records on February 19th. It's been awhile since I've listened to any of this stuff, but I still recall with great glee such sublime moments as the attempt to book a Jermaine Stewart tribute band ("Bedroom ETA") on Beale Street and a post-Bonnaroo call to a Birkenstock vendor of some sort ("You're Harshing My Trip"). More on this in February. — CH