I suppose I had vaguely heard of the Magnetic Zeros before, but I certainly had never heard any of their music, and probably wouldn’t have made a point of going to see them if they hadn’t been on the same showcase line-up with the Hot 8 Brass Band. That being said, I was both impressed and amazed with the performance by Magnetic Zeros’ drummer Crash and other members of the band informally playing at the SXSW Hackathon. The songs were melodic and showed the influence of a number of American roots genres of music. Again, I was disappointed at how empty the hall was given how great the music was.
The first night of showcases for the Midatlantic Music Conference took place on three stages, with rock and folk acts on the two indoor stages at the Chop Shop, and the urban and hip-hop acts a block away at the Roux Bar behind Boudreaux’s at 36th and North Davidson. Both were well-attended, although Roux is a small venue, and it was hard to walk around in due to the crowd.
Originally from the New York area, blues-roots singer Shannon McNally has lived a little bit of everywhere, from Austin to New Orleans, before choosing to settle down in North Mississippi. She has garnered national attention for her most recent release Small Town Talk, an album which celebrates the late Louisiana songwriter Bobby Charles, and has been extremely active in both the Memphis and North Mississippi music scenes. Her appearance at the 40th Anniversary concert of the Memphis Recording Academy chapter included a rousing rendition of “Ain’t No Love In The Heart of the City” and a couple of Bobby Charles compositions from her recent album.
Memphis indie rocker Holly Cole has been fairly well-known in Memphis for several years, but this year has been the real break-out year for her latest venture, the trio with Jana Misener and Krista Wroten known as the Memphis Dawls. The Dawls, judging from their performance at the Levitt Shell for the Recording Academy shindig, bring a punk/indie sensibility to the kind of country/folk ethos that fueled Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. But there are tinges of jazz and soul as well, and appearance-wise, the trio cultivates a decidedly late-1940’s aesthetic. Certainly we’ve been hearing more about them this year, and from what I heard at the Shell, with good reason. All their recorded music can be mailordered by going to http://thememphisdawls.storenvy.com/, or it can be purchased for download at their Bandcamp site.
On Tuesday June 25, 2013, a large number of Memphis musicians and fans of Memphis music came together at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park to celebrate the life and legacy of the late Sid Selvidge, a singer/songwriter from Greenville, Mississippi who came to Memphis in the late 1950’s and had a profound impact on the city’s music scene, both as a songwriter and solo artist, and also as a member of the supergroup Mudboy and the Neutrons, along with Jim Dickinson, Jimmy Crosthwaite and Lee Baker. Despite the hot weather, the Levitt Shell was filled with as many fans as I’ve ever seen, and the evening’s festivities were started off by a folk group known as Crawpatch.
Mississippi artist Jimbo Mathus first came to prominence as a member of swing revivalists Squirrel Nut Zippers. As a solo artist, he straddles a number of genres, with the musics of white and Black Mississippians as the main influences, so he often performs a heartbreaking country ballad followed by a driving funk tune or a Southern rock song.
Friday night, Mathus opened up the Horseshoe Blues Tent at the Beale Street Music Festival with his band the Tri-State Coalition, featuring mainly songs from his new Fat Possum release White Buffalo, including “Tennessee Walking Mare” and “In The Garden”, the latter a philosophical look at sin entering the Garden of Eden. After the set, the hard-working Mathus and his band left Memphis for a show in Greenwood, Mississippi on the same night!