Dual Drive Celebrating The Memphis Music Legacy at @SpinStreetMusic

Memphis guitarist Garry Goin is a fairly well-known figure in the local music scene, who often appears at Memphis Grizzlies games at Fed Ex Forum, or at the annual Stax to the Max Soulsville Festival at the Stax Museum in South Memphis. Memphis saxophonist Pat Register is also very well known around town, and when he and Goin came together, the result was a band called Dual Drive, whose debut album The Memphis Project was recently released on Memphis-based blues label Icehouse Records. The album celebrates the Memphis music legacy, with new smooth-jazz-leaning arrangements of classic Memphis soul songs like “Take Me To The River” and “Dock of the Bay”, and on Tuesday July 1st, Garry and Pat were at Spin Street Music in Memphis to play a few of the songs from the album and to sign copies of it for enthusiastic fans. The crowd that gathered included a lot of Memphis musicians and music industry people, from Johnny and Jeff Phillips of Select-O-Hits, to Jack Cooper from the University of Memphis, and drummer James Sexton, who played on the recording.

Getting Ready for @HAYSTAKMAK and @JellyRoll615 “Business As Usual” Album Out Tomorrow

The long-awaited new collaboration between Nashville rap veterans Haystak and Jelly Roll drops tomorrow. Entitled Business As Usual, it is coming out on Haystak Entertainment and being distributed by Memphis-based Select-O-Hits Music Distribution. To get you ready for it,  in addition to the authorized single leak above, here are some videos of Jelly Roll discussing the new album and of behind the scenes footage.

Saturday Morning Panels at @A3C @melia_atlanta #A3C2013

The panel I was a part of at A3C was called “Monetizing Your Message”, and it encompassed distribution, publishing, social media, marketing and more. I was one of two representatives of distribution companies, the other being a guy from Ingrooves/Fontana, and there was a filmmaker, a social media expert and more. Despite its fairly early start time, our panel was actually well attended, and there were lots of conference attendees out and about throughout the Melia Hotel.

Launch of #TMXMemphis @TheMixtapeMag at the Sahara Cafe and Grill

The first record pool in Memphis in many years was launched last night, February 27, at the Sahara Cafe and Grill on Ridgeway. It’s called The Music Exchange, or TMXMemphis, and it’s being sponsored by The Mixtape Magazine. Last night’s hosts were Edward “Big Ed” Gardner and DJ Kojak, with music provided by Hot 107’s DJ J-Rock, and a lot of other DJ’s were in the house, including Memphis’ legendary DJ Care Bear, strip club DJ Herschel B, and DJ Bay. Memphis-based Select-O-Hits was also present, as well as a number of familiar and not-so-familiar Memphis artists. TMX Memphis offers artists a chance to get their music exposed to and critiqued by DJ’s, as well as a chance to network with industry movers and shakers and other artists. This event will be held six times a year in Memphis.

Jukin’ in North Memphis: The Anti-Beale Street

Once Beale Street had been cleared of nearby residents and had its traditional ambience removed so that it could become a tourist mecca, those who used to party there had to find other places to kick it, and the place they seemed to choose was North Thomas Street in North Memphis. The area is off the tourist maps, and probably with some reason, since it’s a fairly rough area, although the historic American Sound Studios once held forth at the corner of Thomas and Chelsea, and the original store, warehouse and studio of Select-O-Hits was literally a stone’s throw away at 605 Chelsea. But what keeps Thomas Street jumping these days is a strip of classic juke joints that routinely fill to overflowing and occasionally get out of hand, particularly if the police come to shut down the party because there’s just too many people in the joint. CC’s Blues Club, painted in the Packers-loving owner’s favorite colors is the most well-known and venerable of the spots. It’s a virtual monster of a club, a whole city block long, and worlds of fun, particularly when there is a live band. And despite the large size, the club often fills to standing room only on weekends. Not all the establishments on Thomas feature live bands, but Mack City (the former Hughes Uptown) occasionally has been known to. One Block North, just off of Thomas on Marble Avenue has been misrepresented on the internet as a place where live music goes on. It isn’t that, but it is a neighborhood bar with incredible blues and soul records playing on weekends. If you’re ever in Memphis looking for a more authentic blues experience, forget Beale Street and head to North Thomas Street. You’ll spend less, meet some authentic Memphians and enjoy better music.

“Blackrock” was the name of an incredible band that appeared for a short time on the Memphis scene, first appearing it would seem at the 1970 Memphis Country Blues Festival at what was then the Overton Park Shell, sharing the line-up with artists such as Sid Selvidge, Electric Blue Watermelon, Furry Lewis and Bukka White. Formed by two session musicians from Stax Records and two session musicians from Hi Records, Blackrock recorded two incredible sides of a 45 single for the Select-O-Hits label in North Memphis.  “Yeah Yeah” was an amazing slab of funk with a rock-hard foundation of drumming provided by Cornell McFadden, a sometimes session drummer for Stax who had recorded on albums by John  KaSandra. The flip side, “Bad Cloud Overhead” was more dark and foreboding, with lyrics about the drug culture and “getting busted.” Both singles were edited out of a longer, continuous performance that had been recorded.

     Although what in Memphis was called “Black rock” would later be called funk (and the Bar-Kays would name an album “Black Rock” later that same year of 1971), the single was perhaps ahead of its time, and generated little interest, at least until the 1990’s, when crate-digging DJ’s discovered the A-side “Yeah Yeah”. A crew of Memphis DJ’s known as Memphix included the song on an underground compilation of funk known as “Chains and Black Exhaust.” Soon after that, copies of the 45 began to sell on eBay for $35, then $60. When Select-O-Hits began the process of restoring the tapes recently, they discovered the existence of other songs besides the two that saw release in 1971. They provide a remarkable glimpse into the way that soul transformed into funk, at least in Memphis, Tennessee.

 Purchase “Yeah, Yeah” on iTunes here:http://itunes.apple.com/album/blackrock-yeah-yeah-single/id560221632?v0=9989&ign-mpt=uo%3D1.

Purchase “Bad Cloud Overhead” on iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/album/bad-cloud-overhead-single/id560228135?v0=9989&ign-mpt=uo%3D1.