Music fans might want to bypass the record-shop aisles for a stop at the bookstore this week: The Oxford American's seventh annual music issue is on the stands now, with none other than a duck-tailed Elvis Presley on the cover. Inside, readers will find plenty of pieces on influential Memphis music makers, including the King (former Tracks editor Alan Light penned the story, while the accompanying CD features a six-minute version of "Suspicious Minds"), Al Green, Cowboy Jack Clement, blues queen Bessie Smith, and Erma Franklin, Aretha's big sis.
Shangri-La Projects founder Sherman Willmott recently teamed with local garage-rock historian Ron Hall to produce the 2006 Memphis Music Calendar, an astonishing 365-day reminder of everything that makes this city's music great, including Isaac Hayes' birthday (August 20th), the debut of Dewey Phillips' TV show (August 25th), and the date when three locals were arrested at Forest Hill Cemetery for attempting to steal Elvis' body (August 29th). Artwork includes archival photos of Sid Vicious, Furry Lewis, Eddie Bond, and Booker T. & the MGs. For more info, visit ShangriLaProjects.com.
Oregonian blues collector John Tefteller has compiled his own 2006 calendar, composed of circa-1920s advertisements touting 78-rpm releases on the Paramount and Vocalion labels. Sensational illustrations plug obscure sides like Leroy Carr's "Christmas in Jail" and Charley Patton's "Love My Stuff," all compiled on the calendar's companion 16-track CD. Tefteller also made eBay news last week when he placed the winning bid on "Boogie in the Park"/"Gotta Let You Go," by Memphis one-man-band legend Joe Hill Louis. The final price on the shellac 78, originally released on Sam Phillips' own Phillips label? A cool $8,300.
Vanderbilt University Press published Lost Delta Found on August 5th. Memphis author Robert Gordon and Murfreesboro-based musicologist Bruce Nemerov edited the tome, which compiles long-lost research papers by Fisk University scholars John W. Work, Lewis Wade Jones, and Samuel C. Adams Jr. The African-American authors toiled alongside Library of Congress ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax in Mississippi, discovering Muddy Waters and documenting various church services, prison songs, and children's games. But Lomax took all the credit for the project, excising nearly every mention of his cohorts a half-century later when he published The Land Where the Blues Began, an account of his time in Mississippi.
Jones' paper was unearthed from the back of one of Lomax' file cabinets. Unlike Adams' manuscript, which Gordon (who immersed himself in the library's vaults when he wrote Can't Be Satisfied: The Life of Muddy Waters) found strewn about the archives, it was in one piece. After Work's original text was similarly discovered, Gordon and Nemerov decided to publish the documents as Lost Delta Found, which paints a compelling portrait of the Mississippi Delta in the 1940s.
Late last month, inmate Patrick Houston - aka Memphis rapper Project Pat - was released from the Federal Corrections Institute in Greenville, Illinois, after serving a three-year sentence for parole violation. While in the pen, Houston achieved platinum sales for the album Mista Don't Play, released in 2001. And now, says Hypnotize Minds publicist Ché Harris, Project Pat - the artist behind "Chicken Heads," which can only be described as a Dirty South update of Otis and Carla's "Tramp" - is hard at work on a new album at Three 6 Mafia's studio.
Project Pat is free, but the penal system is claiming another hip-hop artist: Former Cash Money rapper Tab "Turk" Virgil, held at the downtown jail since January 2004, was found guilty of three felony charges last week. The Crescent City musician was living with his girlfriend at Hickory Villas in southeast Memphis when a SWAT team stormed the apartment on a drug raid. During the ensuing gun battle, Shelby County sheriff's deputy Chris Harris was struck three times. Jurors deliberated three hours before deciding Turk's fate. He will be sentenced October 26th.
Meanwhile, former Three 6 affiliate Mr. Del - who moved from secular to gospel music in 2000 - has released his major-label debut, The Future, on EMI Gospel. Signs bode well for The Future. Earlier this year, Mr. Del received a Grammy nomination for the song "Shake 'Em Off," included on the EMI compilation Holy Hip Hop: Taking the Gospel to the Streets Vol. 1. For more information on Mr. Del or The Future, go to HolySouth.com.