Considering the close distance between Holly Springs, Mississippi and Memphis, it is strange that blues legend Duwayne Burnside doesn’t appear more often in Memphis. In fact, I only recall seeing him perform at the Beale Street Music Festival or the Levitt Shell, usually with Kenny Brown or the North Mississippi All-Stars, so when I saw that he and his band had been booked to play the new Lafayette’s Music Room, I made it a point to go. Duwayne is a first-rate guitarist, of course, and he performed with his brother Garry Burnside as well, featuring a number of classic blues songs, some from the Hill Country tradition of his Dad R. L. Burnside and the late Junior Kimbrough, others from Elmore James and other sources. Duwayne performed two long sets of great blues, and brought the house down. I definitely hope we’ll see more of him here in Memphis.
On Friday, November 14, 2014, the good folks at Brister Street Productions (the people that bring us BristerFest each year) sponsored a Memphis Music Industry Mixer at Juicy Jim’s on the Highland Strip near the University of Memphis campus. It was originally scheduled to be held at Newby’s, but had to be moved after the latter institution was padlocked. The event featured information and sales tables from a number of local music and clothing firms and organizations, as well as great live music from the Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, backing a number of rap artists, including C Beyohn, Quentin “Rico” Fields, Preauxx and Suavo J. Throwing a cloud over the evening was the unexpected death of Memphis rapper Fathom 9 AKA Avenging Wind, who was repeatedly commemorated during the event. But for the most part, everyone had a good time.
I had been at Duwayne Burnside’s birthday event at the Blues Shack earlier in the evening, and he had mentioned that drummer Kent Kimbrough was also having a birthday party at Junior’s Juke Joint #2 in Holly Springs, so when Duwayne’s event seemed to be calming down, I drove back to Holly Springs to check out the other event. Junior’s Juke Joint was clearly packed to the rafters, and I had trouble finding a place to park. A rather loud argument was going on in the parking lot when I arrived, but I went on inside, where a DJ was spinning blues and southern soul. At one point, a singer named Benny Moore got up to perform, and the club’s house band, known as the Holly Springs Rhythm Section, backed him up. Although I had not heard of him before, he was a decent singer. After his performance, with the DJ providing the music, a woman who said she was one of the late R. L. Burnside’s daughters pulled me onto the dance floor. I’m not a dancer by any means, but it was fun anyway.
Wednesday night is not usually a big entertainment night in Memphis, but on October 29, many of Memphis’ best industry figures came together at Purple Haze downtown to celebrate the release of veteran rapper Frayser Boy’s new album Not No Moe on the Phixieous label. Frayser’s own DJ Bay was on the ones and twos, and Tune C, DJ Zirk, Miscellaneous,Carlos Sargent, DJ Care Bear, Lil Wyte, Snootie Wild, Jason Da Hater,Suavo J, Louis Goggins of the Memphis Flyer and Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell of the Recording Academy and Royal Studios were among the attendees. Frayser Boy, Lil Wyte and Miscellaneous performed a few songs from the album toward the end of the night, and the event was all love, fun and food.
Keep up with Frayser Boy: Tweets by FrayserBoy
Keep up with Lil Wyte:
http://wytestore.com Tweets by Lil_Wyte_
Keep up with Phixieous Entertainment: Tweets by PhixieousEnt
Every once in awhile, a corporation does something worthwhile, and certainly Red Bull’s Sound Select tour with Run The Jewels fits the bill. Run the Jewels is a collaboration between Killer Mike and El-P, and when my homeboy Matt Sonzala told me to come out to Minglewood Hall in Memphis to check them out, I invited my homeboy Tune C and we headed down there. To my amazement, the place was absolutely packed, and many of the people there were like a who’s who of the Memphis recording industry, including rappers Ify, Tori WhoDat and Jason Da Hater, singer Tonya Dyson, and legendary engineer and producer Boo Mitchell. The opening act was a thoroughly gangsta crew from Dallas known as the Outfit, and for a gangsta-style group, they were decent. But it was the Run The Jewels performance that everyone came for, and it was very impressive indeed. Tune and I had hung out with Mike in Atlanta last year, and we got a brief chance to catch back up with him after the show. It was truly a momentous night for Memphis hip-hop.
Keep up with Run the Jewels:
https://www.facebook.com/therealrunthejewels Tweets by runjewels
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/run-the-jewels-2/id927052864 Tweets by killermikegto
http://killermike.bandcamp.com Tweets by therealelp
The second and final outdoor show at the A3c main stage on Saturday was billed as a Pimp C Memorial Concert. As such, it featured an all-star cast of rappers who had known Pimp C, worked with him, or been influenced by him, from relatively new Texas rappers like Doughbeezy and Killa Kyleon, to legendary artists like Twista, TMo Goodie, Bigg Gipp, Eightball & MJG, Trae The Truth and Bun B himself. Most of the artists performed their classic and well-known material, and that was especially true of Eightball & MJG, who did classic material from their first album Coming Out Hard. I also noticed that the DJ played Playa Fly’s “Getting’ It On” at the beginning of the event.
P. Dibiase was the last artist to appear on the Fresh Out The Box showcase at A3C, and the only one on the lineup that I had ever heard of. That being said, there’s not a whole lot of biographical information out there about him, other than his being from Chicago, and a lot of videos, songs and mxtapes, the most recent of which is called the Steve Jobs Mixtape. Like all the performers I heard, Dibiase is extremely talented, and perhaps more lyrical than some of the previous artists, and has definitely garnered a little more attention from the blogs and websites. P. Dibiase may be positioned to be the next big thing from Chicago.
Keep up with P. Dibiase: Tweets by PDibiase
Weasel Sims has a famous (or infamous) name in Chicago, a name that belies his young years. His dad, Rufus “Weasel” Sims, also pursued a rap career, but was better known as one of the city’s most notorious drug lords, once allegedly purchasing a mansion with solid gold plumbing fixtures. Now the young Weasel Sims and his rap group the RAN Nation are poised to take Chicago’s rap scene by storm, and they certainly shook up the Fresh Out The Box showcase at the Music Room in Atlanta during A3C, showing more energy than just about any other act I witnessed on that stage. While I’m not always a fan of hardcore street rap, I couldn’t help but admire the stage command and level of enthusiasm they showed. Weasel Sims and the RAN Nation are definitely a group to watch in the future.
Chicago’s Saint Millie began rapping at age 8 while living in a gritty West Side neighborhood and dealing with his mother having been sent to prison. Since he felt he was “living in hell”, he chose the name Saint Millie, and has proceeded to release two highly-acclaimed mixtapes. He has also performed at South By Southwest in 2013, and his style of rap shows a strong difference from other artists, even artists from Chicago. Millie places more emphasis on inspirational stories of struggle and success, and is definitely one of the Second City’s rising stars.
Young Chicago artist Chi City chose music as a way to avoid the gangs and drugs around the area where he grew up at 45th and Drexel. Beginning to write at 11, he eventually got an opportunity to tour with Freeway, contributed to songs by other artists, and has now for the last four years started getting the attention he deserves as an artist in his own right. His performance at A3C this year was definitely impressive.