There are a lot of good neighborhood festivals in Memphis, but perhaps none boasts such consistently compelling music as the Cooper-Young Festival, which will be held in and around that Midtown intersection from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, September 18th. Music this year is presented by the local chapter of the Recording Academy and features a mix of pretty much every style happening in Memphis -- blues, jazz, hip-hop, soul, classical, rock, Latin, reggae, etc. Acts range from (yet another) 50th Anniversary of Rock-and-Roll tribute, this one featuring Billy Swan, Jim Dickinson, and J.M. Van Eaton, to young up-and-comers such as Free Sol and Candice Ivory, both of whom should be busy in the coming months.
Free Sol released their debut, 11:11, locally a few months ago, but now listeners around the country should soon get the chance to hear it. Young Avenue Sound and Memphis Records owner Don Mann says that Memphis Records has secured a national distribution deal for 11:11 with Redeye Distribution. The projected national release date for the record is October 16th, with an initial focus on the Southern and Western regions where the band has been touring.
Ivory, who released her solo debut, Path -- Undefined, in January, promises to be back with a follow-up soon, with a possible October release date. Ivory was putting the finishing touches on the record in New York last month before heading home to Memphis for the fall. She says that the album is more electronic and more rock-oriented than Path, which was rooted in vocal jazz.
The full music schedule for the Cooper-Young Festival is as follows:
Main Stage: University of Memphis Faculty Jazz Ensemble with Kelley Hurt, 12:30 p.m.; Yamagata, 1:30 p.m.; Rob Jungklas, 2:30 p.m.; Symbiosis, 3:30 p.m.; Free Sol, 4:30 p.m.; 50th Anniversary of Rock-and-Roll Tribute with Billy Swan, J.M. Van Eaton, Jim Dickinson, and the Sun Studio Rhythm Section, 5:30 p.m.
First Congo Stage: Rhythm Realm Drumming, noon; Lily Afshar, 12:30 p.m.; Goin' Home, 1:30 p.m.; Cooley's House, 2:30 p.m.; Candice Ivory, 3:30 p.m.; Sons of Soil, 4:30 p.m.
East Stage: Skinny White Chick, 12:30 p.m.; Okra Boy, 1:30 p.m.; Blue Jazz, 2:30 p.m.; Carlos Ecos Band, 3:30 p.m.; YesNoMaybe, 4:30 p.m.
Local Music News and Notes: Betsie Brown of Crows Feet Productions, a promotion and publicity company specializing in roots music, has been booking music at downtown's Bon-Ton Café over the past few months, with performers including Billy Gibson (who hosts all the shows), Candice Ivory, and Eden Brent. Brown's latest booking, Los Angeles-based bluesman Carlos Guitarlos, could be a real treat. Guitarlos' most recent album, last year's Straight From the Heart, is one of the best contemporary blues records I've heard over the past few years, though the label "blues" might be too limiting. In the tradition of artists such as Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Los Lobos, Guitarlos' music eradicates genre barriers, mixing house-rocking blues with deep soul, early rock-and-roll, and Cajun stomps. The record features cameos from such Cali alt-rock luminaries as Mike Watt (the Minutemen), Dave Alvin (the Blasters), and John Doe (X), so you know right there this isn't another Blues Brothers retread. Guitarlos performs at the Bon-Ton Wednesday, September 22nd, at 8 p.m. Local singer Dani opens. For more information on Crows Feet, see crowsfeet.biz On Thursday, September 16th, at South Main jazz club Cafe Soul, a fund-raiser will be held by the nonprofit arts group Humble Hearts Foundation to start an annual scholarship for local music and arts students. The scholarship is in the name of longtime local musician and city-schools band director Emerson R. Able Jr., and the event will also serve as a tribute to Able, with many of his former students performing. Will Graves & Soul headline the show, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Next month, The North Mississippi Allstars will release their first live album. Due October 12th and titled Hill Country Revue, the set was recorded this summer at the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee, and features such Allstars co-horts as R.L. Burnside, Jim Dickinson, The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band, the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson, and Widespread Panic's JoJo Hermann. The Allstars will perform at The Library in Oxford Thursday, September 23rd Applications are currently being accepted for this year's Mid-South Grammy Showcase, which will take place at The New Daisy Theatre on Friday, November 5th. Last year's competition gave winner Free Sol a considerable boost. The showcase is open to unsigned artists in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and, of course, West Tennessee and will be judged by panels of music-industry professionals. The winning act will receive a performance slot at next year's Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival as well as studio time and an "artist development package." The submission deadline is Monday, September 27th. For more information, e-mail email@example.com or call (901) 525-1340. •