If VH-1's Best Week Ever did a Memphis music episode, then this week the Hi-Tone Café would clearly be having the best week ever, with four compelling, disparate touring shows to choose from.
Thursday, June 24th, sweet-voiced indie-folk troubadour Mary Lou Lord hits the club. To these ears, Lord has never topped her mid-'90s debut single for the Kill Rock Stars label, "Some Jingle Jangle Morning (When I'm Straight)," but she's also never made a bum move, as attested by her lovely new studio album, Baby Blue. Lord will be performing the great Bob Dylan outtake "Up to Me" at a Blood on the Tracks tribute concert in New York at the end of the month. Hopefully, she'll give local audiences a sneak preview. Jeff Klein and E.J. Friedman open.
The next night --Friday, June 25th -- the club will be invaded by Rancid side-project Lars Frederiksen & The Bastards. I haven't heard the band's new album, Viking, which is due at the end of the month, but the band's eponymous debut was one of my favorites from 2001 and holds up great --anthemic, class-conscious gutter-punk with nostalgic undercurrents and Frederiksen's marble-mouthed roar leading the way. The Horrorpops open.
Following Frederiksen Saturday night is Yellowman, one of the key figures in Jamaica's post-Bob Marley transition from reggae to the more aggressive, hip-hop-oriented sounds of dancehall.
Finally, on Wednesday, June 30th, Austin's Spoon hit the club. Driven by percussion (drums, keyboards, piano, and tambourine), chalk-dry guitars, and the calculated catch in lead singer Britt Daniel's voice, the band's last album, 2002's Kill the Moonlight, is the rare indie-rock record that swings. Can they duplicate the effect live? Only one way to find out. Garage-rockers Thee Shams, newly signed to Fat Possum Records, open the show. -- Chris Herrington
The first rule about Shabbadoo is that nobody talks about Shabbadoo. Or something like that. For several years now, some of the smartest, mellowest, most bittersweet pop to come out of Memphis has been available only to those lucky few who knew how to find a mystery man who goes by the name Joey Jo-Jo Jr. Mini-Van Records' Joey Pegram began playing music in Memphis with hippie-punks 611, the first band to record for Shangri-La. He's since played with the Bum Notes, Apocolax, the Bottom Feeders, Professor Elixir's Southern Troubadours, the Joint Chiefs, and the Paper Plates. Blending melancholy keyboard soundscapes, fuzzy electric guitars, and sharp, introspective lyrics, Pegram's longtime recording project -- Shabbadoo -- sounds nothing like any of his previous bands. It's a gently psychedelic tonic custom-made for rainy days or long drunken nights that accidentally spill over into morning. Until now, there was only one way to hear Shabbadoo. You had to run into Pegram during the Christmas holidays when he hands out homemade discs as gifts to anyone who wants to listen. But on Sunday, June 27th, at the Hi-Tone Café, some of Memphis' finest musicians will take the stage with Pegram, and Shabbadoo will be a real band at last. It's about time.