Paint It Black: Even before the Rolling Stones roared that directive, the visual arts and rock-and-roll music had borrowed the other's energy, power, and sense of timing. This weekend, Eric Saxon is hanging his own rock-inspired paintings at Goner Records in Cooper-Young. This will be the last local show for the Memphis native, who's moving to San Francisco this year. "I'm calling the show 'Primordial Soup' because it's a stew of forms," Saxon explains. "These paintings are mostly black, which makes me feel like I'm exhuming something out of a tar pit. It's rich, fertile stuff that I'm excavating.
"I listen to all sorts of stuff, but Memphis is this creative, cultural milieu. You can't avoid it, and it would be stupid to try," Saxon says of the influence Memphis music has on his work. Stop by Goner Records after 6 p.m. Friday, April 8th, for the opening, where Saxon will also be playing video loops of an old puppet show called Vegetable Soup, or drop in during regular business hours to view the show, which will be up for the next few weeks.
Paint It White: Yep, that was Jack White you saw stomping around town last month: Ardent Studio's Jody Stephens confirms that the Detroit rocker visited the studio twice in March, first to mix an album by the Raconteurs, a new group featuring Greenhornes/Loretta Lynn alum Patrick Keeler.
"Halfway through, Jack looked over to [Ardent engineer] John Hampton and said, 'What are you doing in a month? I've got another project.' So he came back, and we mixed the new White Stripes album," Stephens says. "Easley-McCain Studio had a big role in Jack coming here. After cutting White Blood Cells and mixing Van Lear Rose there, he was familiar with the city."
Unfortunately, Stephens isn't part of the Memphis music contingency headed to London for this month's It Came From Memphis festival. Tav Falco, Jim Dickinson, Sid Selvidge, Jimmy Crosthwait, The North Mississippi Allstars, and The Tearjerkers are anchoring the festival's "Ardent Night" at the Barbican. But Stephens has plenty in Memphis to keep him busy: In a few months, Rykodisc is releasing a brand-new Big Star album, while Jonah 33 and The Gamble Brothers Band are currently in the studio.
Well, it's official: The Reigning Sound are no longer a Memphis band. Frontman Greg Cartwright -- who relocated to Asheville, North Carolina, last year -- confirms that the band's appearance at Chicago's Blackout Festival next month will be the last performance with Memphis bassist Jeremy Scott.
"We tried to do the long-distance thing for a while," Cartwright says, "but last year was one of the most unproductive years I've ever had. Jeremy's pretty busy playing with Harlan T. Bobo, and it seemed like a good time to make a clean break."
Cartwright has recruited bassist Dave Gay for what he calls "the Reigning Sound Mach II." The trio, which includes drummer Lance Wille (who replaced Memphian Greg Roberson), has plans to hit the recording studio with blues great Eddie Kirkland, while Live at Maxwell's, cut at Hoboken, New Jersey's famed venue last year, and Home for Orphans, an album of outtakes and alternative versions of songs originally slated for the Too Much Guitar! album, are both scheduled for release this spring.
They're not from Memphis, but maybe they should be: Meet Hillstomp, Portland, Oregon's hill-country blues duo. Halfway through a month-long U.S. tour -- which stops at The Buccaneer Saturday, April 9th -- guitarist Henry Kammerer and percussionist John Johnson are stoked to be headed south. "Playing down there is something we've dreamt about," Kammerer says. "It's one thing to play in Portland and get a good reception and another thing to play [hill-country blues] in Memphis or Mississippi. It's exciting and daunting, at the same time."
Judging by the music on One Word, Hillstomp's self-released debut, these boys have their act down pat. Covers of R.L. Burnside's "Goin' Down South" and "Long Haired Doney" sound like they've been filtered through John Fahey's supersonic skull, with a dose of Bob Log III's growling impudence thrown in for good measure. "I don't know why I've gravitated toward the hill-country sound," Kammerer says, "except that it's the most honest, steady, trancelike music I've ever heard in my life."
R.I.P. Billy Bass: Local garage-rockers are mourning the death of Japanese musician Hideaki Sekiguchi, aka Guitar Wolf's Billy Bass. Ten days after Guitar Wolf's last Memphis gig, Sekiguchi suffered a heart attack. He was just 38 years old. n