Memphians love to complain. One of our favorite old saws was about how all the live music in town was either party music, a usually awful knock-off of Memphis' classic recorded music, or got started about five minutes before dawn in some un-air-conditioned hell hole. For years, Memphis' music scene was awesome if you were still young enough to sleep it off the next day. If you had kids or a job, there wasn't as much for you. Lafayette's Music Room is designed to appeal to all of us.
The reincarnation of the early '70s music hall opened last week and set the stage for a new relationship between Memphis' musical talent and the busy people who've been missing out. Lafayette's opened with a strong showing of local greats. The Bo-Keys, vocalist Susan Marshall, bassist Sam Shoup, and Joe Restivo, and Marcella René Simien were among those who played. There's no angle to these bookings other than the fact they are great musicians. That's encouraging in Memphis' often scene-bound music scene.
We are adding some new writers to our music coverage. Below, Joshua Cannon takes a look at four national acts that are coming to Lafayette's this month. Look for expanded Flyer music stuff online, even if it starts at 6 a.m. on Monday morning.
— Joe Boone
- Shook Twins
Shook Twins: October 16th, 9 p.m. $5.
When Katelyn and Laurie Shook's voices come in on "What We Do" from their 2014 LP of the same name, their near-perfect harmonies are proof that the sisters share a bond unmatched by most bands. To call them a folk band would be selling the Twins short. Their sound ranges from blues to bluegrass, and their melodies are that of a pop band. The Shook Twins won't be confined to one genre, and no instrument is off limits. Banjo, electric and upright bass, acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, glockenspiel, ukulele and a slew of other instruments find their way into the Shook Twins' songs. While Katelyn sings through a repurposed telephone microphone, sister Laurie records ambient, vocal loops and does percussive beat boxing over different arrangements. There's something special about family bands.
Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics:
October 17th – 18th. $5. Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics have torn to the root of R&B. In the process, they've managed to write songs reminiscent of '60s soul while simultaneously cooking up fresh sounds. The group's debut album, It's About Time, is 10 tracks long, and each song showcases the diverse band's wide array of talent. On the opener"My Dear," Velle sings, "Only love will help us overcome everything," with such sincerity that it will tug at your heartstrings. The Soulphonics rhythm section will pull you on the dance floor, and their horns will keep you grooving through the entire set. The group has toured to SXSW and played with Kings of Leon and Kanye West.
October 21st, 8 p.m. $15. With a career spanning 10 albums, Junior Brown has followed the conventions of traditional country music in the most unconventional way. Brown is an outlaw who defies what country music was and what it has become. Under a wide-brimmed cowboy hat, he sometimes-sings, sometimes-speaks over his songs in a low baritone voice evocative of Merle Haggard. Brown wields what he calls his "guit-steel" — a double-neck crossbreed of an electric and steel guitar — moving his fingers like Hendrix having a psychobilly freak out. With songs like "Hang Up And Drive" and "My Wife Thinks You're Dead," he pairs tongue-in-cheek lyrics with an individualistic style of playing guitar, creating a sound that could be attributed to no one other than Brown.
Leon Russell: November 16th, 8 p.m. $50. At 72 years old, Leon Russell has spent most of his life shaping the music industry in ways that many musicians can only dream of doing. He's led a long career as a session musician, songwriter, solo artist, and producer, and he even started his own record label, Shelter Records. He's collaborated with musicians from Steve Cropper to John Lennon to B.B. King and even once found a hit with "Hummingbird," a song from his debut album that was first released in 1970. In April, Russell released Life Journey. The album features the seasoned musician singing a mix of new material and songs by other artists that have moved him throughout his life. Shelling out $50 for an evening with Russell is more than worth it.