In 1993, then (and still largely) unknown Mary Lou Lord released what I still insist is one of the dozen or so best singles of the '90s with a little 7-inch for Olympia indie Kill Rock Stars. The sweetly verbose originals "Some Jingle Jangle Morning (When I'm Straight)" and "Western Union Desperate" consciously evoked Dylan and the Byrds while the fuzztone guitars and iconoclastic setting cut against whatever precious folkie vibe the songs might have had. It was an absolutely perfect record. A few years later, those songs saw their first CD release with Lord's major-label debut, Got No Shadow, but in a recorded form that slicked them up for a radio bid that never came. The whole album disrupted the easy intimacy that had previously been Lord's calling card, making her seem like just another folk-pop hopeful, albeit one with better taste in material than the norm.
Lord's most recent record, last year's City Sounds, returns to her intimate roots as a street musician, recorded by Lord herself during solo acoustic performances on the streets of her native Boston. It's basically a covers record, but it's a great one due to both Lord's smart, breathy interpretive singing and positively inspired taste in material, tackling ace songs from the likes of Springsteen, Dylan, Alex Chilton, Stephin Merritt, and Richard Thompson. Lord performs at Young Avenue Deli Saturday, May 17th, with Cory Branan and show organizer Eric Jay Friedman. This is one show that singer-songwriter fans won't want to miss, and if everybody plays solo-acoustic, I say feel free to shush noisy folks at the bar and at the pool tables. -- Chris Herrington
There was supposed to be a Grifters reunion at the Hi-Tone CafÇ on Friday, May 16th, but thanks to Joe Perry (you know, Aerosmith guitar player Joe Perry) that's just not going to happen. I can honestly say that is not a sentence I ever thought I would type. It seems Perry has his own line of guitars coming out and Memphis' Porch Ghouls (a band Perry has taken under his wing) are scheduled to play the "How do you like my guitar?" party. And that means Grifter Scott Taylor, aka Porch Ghoul Slim Electro, will be hanging with Perry. That's good for the Ghouls (who recently played on an unlikely bill opening for Godsmack at the Cajun Dome) but bad news for Grifters fans excited about hearing all their favorite songs again. But there is hope yet. When the gig officially fell through, Grifters co-frontman Dave Shouse booked the date for his current project, The Bloodthirsty Lovers. Local electro-rockers The Pelicans, originally scheduled to open for the Grifters, are still playing, but The Paper Plates, an indie-pop group which includes the Grifters' innovative bass player Tripp Lampkins, has also been added to the bill. This lineup would be good enough on its own, but word on the street (which could turn out to be completely false, of course) is that Lampkins plans to join the Bloodthirsty Lovers onstage for a few songs. Might those be Grifters songs? One can only hope. Between the Porch Ghouls' major-label shot, the popularity of the Bloodthirsty Lovers, and the potential shown by the Paper Plates, who knows when we'll get to hear these songs again? -- Chris Davis