Music » Music Features

Sound Advice

The Flyer's music writers tell you where you can go.

Chicago's Califone was born from the disintegration of mid-'90s indie rockers Red Red Meat, a band whose peculiar notion of "blues rock" amounted to what might be called post-punk field recordings. With Califone, the Red Red Meat sound has morphed and expanded, the new group's interest in arty-yet-rootsy sonic textures becoming something like a Midwestern post-punk version of Los Lobos side-project the Latin Playboys. (And, in case you're wondering, that's a compliment. A big one.)

The band is perhaps best heard on last year's Quicksand/Cradlesnakes. But though the recent Heron King Blues isn't quite so captivating as its predecessor, it's still a useful extension of (or introduction to) the sound that makes this band unique.

You can check out that sound in person this week when Califone, or at least a portion of the band, plays following an art opening Friday, February 27th, at the Butler Street Bazaar. There will be a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. for the exhibit, curated by local photographer Robin Salant and featuring the work of Califone singer Tim Rutili and local artist Mike Brown. Rutili and company will play an acoustic set following the reception.

A modern-day soul man who hearkens back to such down-home '70s artists as Bill Withers and Bobby Womack, Anthony Hamilton's profile rose last year when he provided the vocal hook for Nappy Roots' hit "Po' Folks," which led to his partnership with Atlanta producer Jermaine Dupri.

Dupri released Hamilton's current album, Comin' from Where I'm From, on his Arista imprint So So Def, and the result is, hands down, one of 2003's best R&B records. A native of North Carolina, Hamilton brings a bit of Southern flavor to his idiosyncratic, humble, and personal brand of soul music, a feel that you can hear on the playful "Cornbread, Fish & Collard Greens."

With organic keyboards and horns brushing up against hip-hop beats and production, Hamilton looks backward and forward at the same time and ends up with one of the freshest neo-soul sounds around. He's especially affecting when reminiscing on his hardscrabble upbringing in Charlotte, as on the title track and on "Mama Knew Love," which flips the script on the Temptations' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and breathes life into an increasingly familiar genre (the "Mama" song) with memorable lyrics such as: "Mama knew love like the back roads/Used to fall asleep daily in her work clothes/Mama knew love like the back streets/Used to wipe pee just to make the ends meet."

Hamilton returns to Memphis after a performance at Isaac Hayes late last year, this time playing the Holiday Inn-Select airport location Sunday, February 29th. Showtime is 8 p.m. with regular admission tickets $30. --Chris Herrington

Poor Sadie Hawkins. Her daddy was the richest man in Dogpatch, U.S.A., and she still couldn't find herself a feller. Al Capp's Li'l Abner comic strip launched an honest to gosh folk tradition in the 1930s when he told the story of a foot race where Sadie got to keep whatever boy she could catch. So, ladies, get your running shoes on, and, boys, commence to hide, because Midtown's indefatigable music promoter Misty White has put together a Sadie Hawkins Dance on Friday, February 27th, at the Hi-Tone CafÇ. The lineup includes Greg Hisky, The Subteens, and a mystery band from Heber Springs, Arkansas, called Grand Serenade. Hisky's retro repertoire runs the gamut between Chuck Berry and Hank Williams, while the Subteens make good-humored parking-lot punk geared toward adolescents of all ages. Both of these artists are well known around town. But if their live show is anywhere near as good as their homemade CD (which I can't stop spinning), Grand Serenade might just steal the show. Heck, they might just steal your date. This aptly named group cleaves to the melodic and romantic end of the garage-rock spectrum. Giant, crashing chords and big beats give way to tight Kinks-style pop and epic Smiths-inspired ballads about aching teen-age love. Catch this band before they get old and jaded. --Chris Davis

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