Reigning Sound ringleader Greg Cartwright played an impromptu acoustic set at Goner Records Friday, November 30th, in part to celebrate the completion of the band's most recent album. The former Memphian, now comfortably ensconced in Asheville, North Carolina (asked before his set if he were tempted to move back, he charitably responded that he loves visiting Memphis), played with his band at the Gibson Beale Street Showcase over Thanksgiving weekend, then spent the following week holed up at Ardent's Studio C, with Doug Easley engineering.
The newly bearded Cartwright said during his Goner set that the new album would be released via the In the Red label in late spring. After spending time in the past year backing up (and, in Cartwright's case, producing and writing for) former Shangri-Las singer Mary Weiss and keeping the Reigning Sound section of record-store racks stocked with outtakes (Home for Orphans) and live (Live at Goner, Live at Maxwell's) discs, this will be the band's first album of new material since 2004's Too Much Guitar.
The Reigning Sound isn't the only high-profile Memphis-connected band that's been in the studio working on an early-2008 release. The North Mississippi Allstars have announced that their next album, titled Hernando, will be released on January 22nd. The band's first studio album since 2005's Electric Blue Watermelon, Hernando will also be the first released on the band's own label, Sounds of the South. The album was produced by Jim Dickinson in September at his Zebra Ranch studio.
If you missed ambitious local rock band The Third Man's record-release party for its new album Among the Wolves at the Hi-Tone Café, you can make up for it this week, when the band plays an early-evening set at Shangri-La Records. The Third Man is set to play at 6 p.m. Friday, December 7th, and it'll be interesting to see how the band's epic, guitar-heavy sound translates to a more intimate setting.
The Memphis Roller Derby will take over the Hi-Tone Café Saturday, December 8th, for their second annual "Memphis Roller Derby Ho Ho Ho Burlesque Show." In addition to skits featuring the Derby gals, there will be plenty of musical entertainment as well. Longtime local-scene drummer/commentator Ross Johnson, fresh off the release of his "career"-spanning Goner compilation Make It Stop: The Most of Ross Johnson, will be backed by an "all-star" band he's dubbed the Play Pretteez. Johnson also will retreat back behind the drum kit alongside Jeff Golightly, Lamar Sorrento, and Jeremy Scott in a British-invasion style band called Jeffrey & the Pacemakers. Rounding out the music will be electronic dance act Shortwave Dahlia and DJ Steve Anne. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $10.
Australian Idol winner and MemphisFlyer.com celebrity Guy Sebastian has released his Ardent Studios-recorded debut The Memphis Album, crafted with MGs Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn headlining a terrific Memphis studio band. Sebastian clearly loves Memphis soul, but his take on the genre is too respectful and too unadventurous for his own good. He sings only the most identifiable hits ("Soul Man," "In the Midnight Hour," "Let's Stay Together," etc.) and mimics the original recordings too closely. Still, it's a better Memphis tribute than actor Peter Gallagher's. Sebastian will be taking the core of his Memphis band — Cropper and Dunn along with drummer Steve Potts and keyboardist Lester Snell — on an Australian tour starting in February.
The Stax Music Academy's SNAP! After School Winter Concert will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, December 8th, at the Michael D. Rose Theatre at the University of Memphis. Stax Music Academy artist-in-residence Kirk Whalum will be performing alongside the kids, as will soul singer Glenn Jones. Tickets to the SNAP! concert are $5 and are available through the Soulsville Foundation development office. Call 946-2535 for details.
Finally, congratulations to the New Daisy Theatre's Mike Glenn, who is the only Memphian receiving a Keeping the Blues Alive award from the International Blues Foundation this year. The awards will be presented February 2nd during International Blues Challenge weekend.