Believe it or not, even if you're not a blues fan there are still plenty of solid live-music options around town this week.
Start with neo-soul duo Floetry, who canceled a local gig last month due to a family emergency but return this week -- Thursday, May 22nd, at Isaac Hayes' Peabody Place restaurant --to make it up. The duo of Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart first formed in London as a songwriting team but are now based out of the neo-soul capital of Philadelphia. In recent years they've been at the forefront of the burgeoning genre, penning hits for Jill Scott, Glenn Lewis, Bilal, and even Michael Jackson. The duo stepped out as performers with last year's Floetic. Balancing the sung vocals of Ambrosius with the raplike spoken word of Stewart, the result is smooth neo-soul with a hip-hop tinge. Stephanie Bolton and A-440 open.
For something completely different, you might check out Robbie Fulks, one of the best and most distinct songwriters to emerge from the '90s alt-country scene. Whether attacking his subculture in punk-rock fashion on "Roots Rock Weirdos," writing ace straight-country songs ("Parallel Bars," "I Just Want to Meet the Man" ), paying tribute to pop-culture heroes ("Jean Arthur," "That Bangle Girl"), or twisting the knife (the atheist's hymn "God Isn't Real"), Fulks is a sharp, memorable voice sure to outlive most of his contemporaries. He'll be at the Hi-Tone CafÇ Friday, May 23rd, with Joy Lynn White.
Oldies fans can catch popular late-'70s R&B group The Brothers Johnson, who perform at Handy Park Saturday, May 24th, with comedian Shun Paul hosting and Bolton and A-440 opening.
And those wanting a taste of local music have a couple of compelling but quite different events to choose from Friday, May 23rd. At Shangri-La Records, rapper Chopper Girl will perform, along with some special guests. And, over at the Stax Music Academy, the kids will show off their developing skills at the SNAP! After School Spring Recital. Both performances are scheduled for 6 p.m.
-- Chris Herrington
Many people come to me and say, "Hey, how can you call yourself a Memphis music writer if you hate the blues?" To which I respond, I don't hate the blues, only contemporary blues which: A) originates from the West coast; B) originates from above the Mason-Dixon line; or C) originates from below the Mason-Dixon line but substitutes an excess of soul-food references where actual lyrics should be. Other than that, I'm quite cool with the blues and reasonably excited about the lineup at this year's Handy Awards. But I'm especially excited about Baton Rouge bluesman Larry Garner, who will be playing Silky Sullivan's on Friday, May 23rd, and Saturday, May 24th. Garner is at once a singer and a storyteller. The music is almost secondary to the experience of watching Garner perform. On a good night he can be hypnotic.
On the country end of the spectrum, Jerry Jeff Walker, a patron saint of Austin's outlaw country scene, will be at the great Southern Food Festival on Saturday, May 24th. -- Chris Davis