"It seems like people forget about it when there aren't stories being written," says Brad Postlethwaite of Makeshift, the musical collective cum indie label he co-founded six years ago. "But we haven't gone anywhere."
Two years after gracing the cover of the Flyer's annual music issue, the Makeshift army is back with its fourth compilation album (see review, page 28), a 46-song, two-disc opus that documents at least one significant slice of the Memphis music scene circa 2006. Makeshift will celebrate the release of Makeshift 4 with a series of CD-release concerts this week.
For Makeshift, the compilation, as well as high-profile recent releases such as The Glass' Hibernation and Augustine's Broadcast, marks a step forward from the label's handmade, underdog origins on 2000's The First Broadcast.
"We've gone from being a collection of musicians to being more of a business. We're a more traditional record label now," says Greg Faison, who interned for Makeshift as a University of Memphis music business student and who recently joined Postlethwaite and investor Jeremy Graham to incorporate Makeshift as something more than the handshake indie it once was.
The label ("We even use contracts now," says Faison) has also partnered with a recording studio, Unclaimed Recordings, a partnership of Graham and longtime Makeshift cohort J.D. Reager. Unclaimed Recordings has emerged as a homebase for Makeshift with what Reager estimates as about a third of the Makeshift 4 contributions recorded there as well as several recent and upcoming Makeshift albums, including last year's debut disc from Faison's band, Antique Curtains.
The next step for Makeshift and Unclaimed Recordings could be a combined office/studio space.
"Makeshift desperately needs it," Postlethwaite says of the possibility of a physical space. The label has been approached by organizers of the current Broad Street redevelopment campaign about setting up shop in the hopefully resurgent neighborhood, and according to Postlethwaite, Makeshift is investigating the opportunity.
As for the label's immediate future, a week full of compilation concerts will be followed by national releases for the Glass' and Augustine's highly successful local discs, with national print ads, radio promotion, and distribution. And there are a series of other projects on tap for the label, including sophomore solo discs from Postlethwaite and Blair Combest and albums from Jeffrey James & The Haul, Antique Curtains, The Coach & Four, and Holly Cole.
"It grows along with the indie scene," Faison says about Makeshift's endurance as a local institution. "New people come in, some people leave."
"I never really expected it to stop," Postlethwaite, now an unlikely elder statesman on Memphis' indie scene, says. "It's great to see younger bands excited about working with Makeshift."
Makeshift will hold three CD-release parties for Makeshift 4 this week. Issen, Esque, and The Six-String Jets play the Hi-Tone Café Thursday, February 23rd. "The Makeshift Mambo" at the Hi-Tone Friday, February 24th, will feature The Brad Postlethwaite Band, Jeffrey James & The Haul, Jung Shin, Holly Cole, The Feeling, J.D. Reager, and Imagination Head. The Glass, Augustine, and Blair Combest will play Young Avenue Deli Saturday, February 25th.
Return of the Poll
After taking a year off in 2005, our Local Music Poll will return in this year's special music issue of the Flyer, Thursday, May 4th. Each year we've asked those involved in the local music scene to list their favorite artists and records of the past year and tell us about them. The poll is open to anyone with a direct connection to the local music scene in ways other than being a musician. We're looking for writers, bloggers, and photographers; radio programmers and record-shop employees; club bookers, studio people, and others who pay a lot of attention to the local music scene. If you fit this description and want to receive a ballot for our Local Music Poll, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call
575-9428. Ballots will go out sometime next month.