Music » Music Features


A quick look at the Memphis music scene.


Archer Records, the Memphis Acoustic Music Association, and Otherlands Café are celebrating the release of Sid Selvidge¹s new live album this weekend. On Saturday, June 4th, at 8 p.m., Selvidge will reprise the 14 songs recorded at Otherlands last fall. His CD/DVD set, Live at Otherlands, is the first live album in a career that spans more than three decades. The CD includes crowd pleasers such as ³Boll Weevil² and ³Kassie Jones Part 1,² spare, aching covers of Eddie Hinton¹s ³Every Natural Thing² and Fred Neil¹s ³A Little Bit of Rain,² and one yodeling original, ³The Outlaw,² while the DVD features interviews and concert footage filmed by Live From Memphis¹ Christopher Reyes. Tickets for Saturday¹s show are $12, available in advance at Otherlands or Davis-Kidd Booksellers.

Late last month, filmmakers (and Commercial Appeal staff photographers) Alan Spearman and Lance Murphey recorded tracks for their documentary Steel to Sea at Ardent Studios. The duo chose musician Ron Franklin to score the film, which has been four-and-a-half years in the making.
Franklin gathered percussionist John Argroves, The Charlie Wood Trio, and The Rising Star Fife and Drum Band drum corps for an all-day session in Ardent¹s Studio C, where they synched their performances to specific onscreen scenes.
³Ron just seemed like the right guy to work with,² Spearman says. ³He really understands what the project is about. It¹s a river movie, and he combined a Mark Twain element ‹ using mandolins ‹ with a raw guitar sound. I don¹t know exactly what all we¹re going to use from the session, but in the studio, Ron was really intuitive. He nailed it every time.²
³We¹re still doing a lot of editing,² Murphey adds, explaining that the music is mandating the film¹s rhythm. ³By composing music unique to the project, Ron opened the right doors,² he says. ³It¹s really unbelievable how he fit it together.²
Right after the session ended, Franklin departed for Europe. While he¹s gone, Spearman and Murphey will continue the editing process, then all three will make necessary adjustments for the final cut. Soon after, Steel to Sea will be making the competition rounds. It¹s already gotten favorable reviews from the likes of Hustle & Flow creator Craig Brewer and 21 Grams director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and production designer Brigitte Broch, who viewed a rough cut in Morocco last spring.

While I¹m not usually a proponent of musical showcases purporting to launch the next blockbuster act, Disc Makers¹ Southeast Independent Music World Series seems like a valid opportunity for bands looking for a shot at the big time. Industry stalwart Billboard magazine will provide the judges selecting the region¹s top six independent acts, which will then compete at Atlanta¹s Hard Rock Café this August for a slot in the national contest, with $35,000 in instruments, gear, and prizes going to the winners.
What does this mean for Memphis musicians? Well, those willing to send in three original tracks on a CD ‹ and a $20 processing fee ‹ could be tapped to compete against bands from surrounding states in front of label reps from Warner Bros., Capitol, Columbia, Universal, and Atlantic, as well as indies such as Thrill Jockey and Waterdog Music. Sure, it¹s a long shot, but you¹ll receive a copy of Billboard¹s indispensable Musician¹s Guide to Touring and Promotion for entering. Go to for details. Entry deadline is June 10th.

Corrections Dept.: Last week, I erroneously reported that The Reigning Sound have a track on Ed Porter¹s Loverly ¹05 CD compilation. Actually, former Reigning Sound organist Alex Greene has a track on the album, along with Trey Harrison, Lamar Sorrento, Ross Johnson, The Grundies, New Car Smell, La Paloma, and a cut from the mysteriously monikered Nick Name, which features Doug Easley on guitar. Meanwhile, the Reigning Sound¹s Home for Orphans, outtakes from the band¹s ¹04 release Too Much Guitar!, will be out on Sympathy for the Record Industry in July.

Brass note for Little Jimmy King: Daniel Gales, twin of the late Manuel Gales, aka Little Jimmy King, one of this city¹s greatest blues guitarists, reports that the powers-that-be on Beale Street recently unveiled a brass musical note in his brother¹s honor. ³Tommy [Peters, B.B. King¹s Blues Club founder] suggested we install it after the Memphis in May festivities,² Gales says. Manuel Gales ‹ who took his stage name in honor of guitarists Jimi Hendrix and Albert King ‹ was just 34 years old when he suffered a heart attack on July 19, 2002. 

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