InLOVE Memphis is one of Memphis' most elegant clubs, but it is not usually the venue for any kind of rap music, so I was somewhat surprised when I saw that a rap concert called Fall In Love Memphis was being held there. But it was also no ordinary rap concert, as the rappers were to be backed by the Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, Memphis' superb dub band. The show was hosted by Memphis comedian/rapper/actor Elliot "Hardface" Nelson, and opened up with a rapper named Fuller's Back, who did a couple of songs. Memphis hip-hop artist CBeyohn was next, featuring the Chinese Connection's drummer Donnon Johnson on an amazing solo at the front of one of the songs. But the headliner for the night was Memphis veteran Jason Da Hater, well-known for his unique image and "hater" persona. Despite being introduced as the "worst MC in Memphis" and his appearance on stage being greeted by a chorus of boos (per his instructions), Jason is actually one of the city's most gifted MC's, and demonstrated that fact during his fairly brief set of some six or so songs. It was a night of great lyrics and great musicianship in an upscale, grown-folks environment.
A year or so ago, Joshua McCain & The Soul Seven were playing every week at a place in Hickory Hill called El Toro Loco, but were left without a regular home when that place quit booking live music. Now they have ended up right around the corner at Los Cabos on Quince, where they hold forth every Tuesday night. Featuring vocalist Gerald Bailey and keyboardist Joshua McCain, the Soul Seven performs a mix of instrumental originals and covers from Memphis’ favorite R & B artists, such as Bobby Womack, Willie Hutch, Frankie Beverly and Michael Jackson, and usually draws a crowd anywhere they play. With two birthday parties on this particular night, the audience was even larger than usual.
Keep up with Joshua McCain:
Los Cabos Mexican Bar & Grill
6542 Quince Rd
Memphis, TN 38119
The building had once been a Pig N’ Whistle barbecue restaurant, and later a rough-around-the-edges club called Two For One, but Curtis Givens’ latest venture, In LOVE Memphis is possibly the hippest and most elegant new venue in the city. The building is unrecognizable compared to its former self, and the decor inside is upscale and cozy. But the reason I came was the reason I usually go anywhere, live music, which at LOVE takes place on Mondays and Thursdays. On this particular Thursday, the featured artists was a singer named Marcus Scott, with whom I wasn’t familiar, although I soon learned that I should have been. Scott is a consummate showman, with a fine voice, ably assisted by the Deep Soul Band, which contained some faces I recognized, including Marless Flowers on drums and the incomparable Jackie Clark on bass. The show consisted mostly of soul and R & B covers, but Scott performed one original, “Sow A Seed”, a clever prod to get the crowd feeding the tip bucket for the musicians. And amazingly, all of this great live music was available without a cover charge, at least on this particular night.
Back in February, a new restaurant called Prive’ opened in the former Cooker/Smokey Bones building at Winchester and Riverdale in Hickory Hill, owned by a group of people that was said to include Memphis rap star Yo Gotti, On Tuesday, July 1, I finally had an opportunity to visit the new restaurant, as I went out to check out the superb 4 Soul Band, one of Memphis’ premiere neo-soul, smooth jazz and funk bands, as they kicked off a Neo-Soul Tuesdays event that is scheduled to continue each Tuesday for the foreseeable future. As for Prive’, it is a lavish and upscale atmosphere for “grown folks”, with a dress code that forbids athletic gear and tennis shoes. The menu is limited, but the food is decent, if a little expensive, and steaks seem to be the specialty of the house. Neo-Soul Tuesdays feature the 4 Soul Band with their vocalist Shenea from 7-9 PM, and Prive’ also features live music on certain other nights as well. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Memphis is literally loaded with incredible soul and funk bands, and occasionally local restaurants and clubs feature some of them. Joshua McCain and the Soul Seven have recently started playing every Tuesday night at El Toro Loco in Hickory Hill from 7-9 PM, with singer Jay Bailey as their featured vocalist. I like to come out and support live music, and it is especially enjoyable to have a live music event early in the week.
Memphis drummer Otis Logan is one of the best young drummers in the city, and for several years has been leading a band called 4 Soul that occasionally plays around town. So when he told me that his band would be playing a Friday night set at a local bar called the Pulse Lounge in Hickory Hill, I had to go and check them out. 4 Soul is a trio of musicians on keyboard, bass and drums, backing a female singer named Shenea who proved to be a young and talented singer, and their mix of original tunes and familiar covers kept things jumping for the crowd, who had turned out in some numbers despite the heavy rain outside. The band played one all-too-brief set, and was followed on stage by a comedian, but we can expect to hear more from 4 Soul in the coming months.
Veteran Memphis drummer Mike Mosby has one of Memphis’ best soul bands, the Hard Hitters, and on Sunday night, December 22, 2013, they kicked off the week of Christmas right with an event called Locked and Loaded at the Zodiac Restaurant and Lounge on Mount Moriah Road in Hickory Hill. The band amazed the standing-room-only crowd with funky instrumentals, vocal tunes, and a hip-hop performance from Memphis’ most soulful rapper, Soulman Snipes. As the old folks used to say, a good time was had by all.
Last Saturday night, December 14, I was invited out to the all-new Deuces Bar and Grill on Winchester Road next to Hickory Ridge Mall to see a performance by two of Memphis’ best-known female vocalists, Carmen Hicks and Stefanie Bolton. They were backed by a first-rate band, anchored by drummer Taz Fields, and despite the venue’s newness, it was packed to overflowing. Deuces is located in the strip mall where Pop Tunes record shop was years ago, near the corner of Winchester and Hickory Hill roads. The club is comfortably equipped and spacious enough to accomodate even large events.
Deuces Bar and Grill
5959 Winchester Road
Memphis, TN 38115
Every other Monday the Memphis Music Commission sponsors a Memphis Music Monday event at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street, and the first one of the summer featured a Memphis soul singer named Rodney Ellis, who had first gained some attention singing hooks for rappers Eightball & MJG. His performance was quite good, so when he announced that he would be performing again out at the Daq, a new nightclub in Hickory Hill, I decided to go out there.
The Daq was located at Hacks Cross Road and the Bill Morris Parkway, and proved to be a large and sleekly modern venue, with an ample area for bands to play against the north wall. The place was actually really crowded for a Monday night, and as I arrived, one band was taking down so that King Ellis’ band could set up. Club nights of any sort are fairly rare on Mondays, so it was great to see a singer working with a live band on a Monday night here in Memphis
Memphis drummer Michael Mosby returned to Memphis after a stint in Atlanta, and has since put together one of the city’s best bands, the Hard Hitters. Last night, at the Zodiac Restaurant and Lounge in Hickory Hill, the Hard Hitters and their vocalists, Brittany Shelby and Cameron Bethany provided the entertainment for a birthday party/event called the Princeton Experience, ably abetted by other rappers and singers, including a great singer named Angela Holmes that I had not heard before. By the end of the evening, the venue was standing room only.