Earlier this year, Memphis road warriors Dead Soldiers announced an indefinite hiatus after five-and-a-half years together. Michael Jasud, singer and guitarist for the raucous folk-rock band, says it wasn't an acrimonious breakup. "People were being pulled by life in ways it made it hard to keep doing it like we'd been doing it. People grow, people change. For the most part, it's a better and healthier place that people are in now."
No one is ruling out reuniting in the future, but "there's no plan. If there was a plan, I'd be thinking about that and not devoting the time and energy to the thing I'm trying to do now."
That thing is a new album he's writing. "It's funny to say 'solo project.' It's really just me writing songs. You say 'Michael Jasud Project' and it sounds like a prog-rock band."
He's recording the album with producer Toby Vest at American Studios. "It's nice," he says, "because we've been working on it in real time. If we're about to start sketching out a song that I've been working on, there's a good chance that I might have heard something the day before that will influence the way we go today. You can get so hung up in creating proof of your genius that you forget that you're just making a document of where you are at that point."
The rough mixes expand on the Dead Soldiers' eclecticism, which seems consistent with Jasud's state of mind, which he described as sometimes Springsteen, sometimes "thinking about mass shootings and listening to electronic music."
To shock himself further out of his comfort zone, Jasud has put together a show at the Memphis Music Mansion with two of his friends in the American Studios circle.
He'll be trading songs with Marcella Simien. "Marcella has a record that is totally finished," Jasud says. "If it comes out this year, it's going to be the best record of 2018. If she doesn't release it until next year, it's going to be the best record of 2019."
Simien demurs. "He's such a smooth talker."
Her new album, which should see a first single released in the early fall, is called Got You Found. "It probably took 10 years for me to write all the songs on it. I never really, until recently, had that drive to sit down and really work on a song, like a real songwriter. It's only been in the last year, after I finished this record. I've written like 50 songs since then. I don't want to stop. ... And the way it came together was just magical, with all of the people who came together to play with us."
Simien says she will perform songs from Got You Found as well as material from her post-recording creative burst. She might even strap on a guitar. "I never really play guitar in public, but it was one of the first things I learned to play as a kid."
The third name on the bill is Blair Combest, who has largely disappeared from the Memphis stage in recent years. Jasud says Combest inspired him as a young musician. "There was a moment when I was really getting into the poetry and art of songwriting, and I saw Blair play. I thought, this guy is really in control of his medium. I'm excited for people who have never seen Blair perform before. This is one of the great singer-songwriters in Memphis."
Simien agrees. "Blair needs to be doing more shows, and people need to hear his songs." She says she's excited to be sharing a stage with Combest and Jasud. "They both have great voices, and they're really textural. They sing to you, not at you. You feel like you're hearing something from a deep place."