Paul Snowflake Taylor celebrates both a new EP and a new recording persona, Friday night. Under the nom de plume New Memphis Colorways, he's debuting a six-song release called Old Forest Loop via a free cipher and community jam session at Crosstown Concourse's Central Atrium.
Taylor has been an artist-in-residence at Crosstown Arts since March.
Old Forest Loop is mostly instrumental, with the exception of the second track. The EP's origins lay, says Taylor, in a previous EP, Old Forest Trail, which was released in fall 2015. "When my dad [Memphis musician Pat Taylor, a veteran of numerous bands including the Breaks and the Village Sound] was sick, I was playing acoustic guitar by his bedside, and when he passed in early 2015, I was spending a lot of time in the Old Forest in Overton Park. Old Forest Trail came out, and within about four months, I realized that the signage that had been there my whole life had been replaced with these totem pole-like signs."
The change was jarring for Taylor. "I stewed on it awhile," he says. "And then, I thought, 'What if I make an electric guitar psychedelic update of Old Forest Trail and call it Old Forest Loop?'"
That was the original concept, but instead, Taylor wound up creating an entirely new, stand-alone record that marked another passing — the death of his dog, Owl Jackson Jr., who had accompanied him on thousands of walks through the Old Forest.
"I decided I should do something more off-the-cuff, and this EP is it," Taylor says. "It's really a palate cleanser, both from old associations and from old records of mine. It's homemade and light-hearted, and I see it as kind of a start-over for me. This is music I deliberately made for people to take summertime drvies to — they can grill to it or swim to it. I won't get my feelings hurt if people talk over it."
More substantial than most summery confections, Old Forest Loop has the citrus punch of an orange sherbet popsicle. Mastered by IMAKEMADBEATS, it will be released on most online music outlets, including Spotify and Bandcamp, at midnight on Friday. The free concert in Crosstown's Central Atrium will run from 6 to 9 p.m.
"It's going to be a loose improv jam session," Taylor says. "I've invited rappers, jazz musicians, dancers, and artists. Hopefully, it will be really chaotic!" Taylor has two months left in his residency at Crosstown, which is where he mixed Old Forest Trail. "Besides mixing that project, I've been hosting and recording other bands," he says. "I'm working on a duo project with Jimmy Crosthwait, and I'm doing an interview series with hand-held mics. So far, I've interviewed Eric Gales, Luther Dickinson, Jimmy, and some horn player friends. The plan is to edit the interviews into long versions I can use as podcasts and short versions I'll release as videos. We're also all building a collaborative piece of music — kind of like an Exquisite Corpse."
For fans of Memphis music, Taylor's aural interpretation of the surrealist game is a fascinating conceit. He's laid down guitar tracks, Dickinson added bass, Gales contributed a drum track, and on it goes.
Meanwhile, on Saturday night, Taylor will appear with Merry Mobile, his band with bassist Daniel McKee and drummer Brian Wells, at Dirty Crow Inn. Despite having spent more than 20 years in the Memphis music scene, which began with his partnership with Luther and Cody Dickinson in the group DDT, Taylor is enthusiastic about the current landscape.
"It's easy to be a sideman," he says."But when it comes to my own stuff, I'm meant for a smaller or more left-bent audience. I have a lot of really positive energy in my life right now. I feel like I fit in."