Midtown institution Shangri-La Records throws down at the Hi-Tone Café this weekend for its annual Christmas party. Headlining the show on Saturday, December 13th, will be Mouserocket, the local indie-rock group that pairs ace individual record-makers Alicja Trout (River City Tanlines) and Robby Grant (Vending Machine). Mouserocket's Pretty Loud is one of the year's very best local albums, so if you haven't heard gems like "Never Stand a Chance" and "On the Way Downtown" live, this would be a good time to check it out.
Rounding out the three-band bill are a couple of attractions you don't get a chance to see often. Trout will join Lori McStay in their terrific but rarely seen cover band, The Ultracats. Trout and McStay normally perform as a duo but will round out the lineup with Grant and McStay's husband, Shangri-La owner Jared McStay.
Finally, Impala and Papa Top's West Coast Turnaround guitarist John Stivers will present Stiverspace, where he'll be joined by the McStays and bassist Tripp Lamkins (Grifters, Dragoon). Between sets, Shangri-La in-house DJs The Hook-Up and Buck Wilders will keep the music flowing.
Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $5 with a food donation to the Memphis Food Bank.
The previous day, Friday, December 12th, Shangri-La will host an in-store performance from Makeshift regular (and Flyer contributor) J.D. Reager, who'll perform songs from his new album, The Repechage. The free show starts at 6 p.m., and everything in the store will be 20 percent off between 5 and 7 p.m.
Memphis music history is littered with curious, compelling stories, among them that of Robert Johnson. No, not that Robert Johnson. A white guitar hotshot who cut his teeth in local bands and recording sessions in the early '70s, the other Robert Johnson ended up playing for Isaac Hayes and the Who's John Entwistle and auditioning for the Rolling Stones in 1975 (a guitarist spot vacated by Mick Taylor that ultimately went to Ron Wood) before making his own mark as a solo artist.
Thirty years after Johnson's power-pop debut, Close Personal Friend, hit the racks, the album has been reissued by the British label Angel Air. The new release, which includes Johnson's Memphis Demos album as bonus material, was released in Europe in October, but the U.S. release was Tuesday, December 9th.
Close Personal Friend put Johnson on the road with fellow new-wave/pop-rock acts like the Police and the Knack in the late '70s, but label and management issues shortened the album's initial shelf life despite good press.
Now, with a re-release of the Ardent-recorded Close Personal Friend to promote, Johnson seems to have the itch again, telling the Flyer via e-mail that he's working on a new record to be released next year featuring former Stones guitarist Taylor and Memphis singer Jimi Jamison.
Also in record stores this month is the newest from Memphis rockers Saliva, Cinco Diablo, set for release on December 16th. The album was preceded by its first single, "Family Reunion," which currently sits at #14 on the Billboard "Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks" chart.