Of course with South By Southwest going on, Austin is filled with members of various chapters of The Recording Academy. So the Texas Chapter has always sponsored an outdoor party during the festival, behind the Four Seasons Hotel along the shores of Lady Bird Lake. Well-known Texas rap artist Paul Wall is almost always there, as he has been a president of the Texas chapter, and there is always good fun, good food and great music.
New Orleans hip-hop artist and activist Truth Universal may not be one of New Orleans’ most popular rap artists, but he is certainly one of the best. He appeared at the Recording Academy celebration in conjunction with cultural guardian and percussionist Luther Gray and with notable New Orleans DJ E.F. Cuttin. His amazing show opened with a libation ceremony for the ancestors, including poet Amiri Baraka who died recently.
Robin Barnes is a relatively new neo-soul singer in New Orleans, backed by an excellent band known as the Soul Heirs. Her performance at the Recording Academy event on January 13 at the U.S. Mint was especially impressive, as was the musicianship of her band members.
Immediately after Black Water Bride, Valcour Records’ artists Bonsoir Catin appeared. They are an all-female band playing traditional Acadian music from Lafayette, Louisiana, and like all Valcour artists, they are really good.
The service region for the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy also includes Shreveport, which is a city with a recording past and which seems to be experiencing something of a musical rebirth since the opening of Brian and Brady Blade’s Blade Studios. Black Water Bride is one of Shreveport’s hot up-and-coming new bands, blending elements of country, rock, soul and other Louisiana music styles, and they were a natural opening act for our Recording Academy party at the Old Mint.
The Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy (formerly NARAS) is a large, regional chapter that includes the city of New Orleans, so one a year our chapter board meeting is held in New Orleans. This year, after the meeting on January 13, we held a Membership Celebration at the Old U. S. Mint in the French Quarter, which featured food, drink and great live music from several bands and artists. Attendees included the chapter’s executive director Jon Hornyak, chapter president and legendary Memphis producer Boo Mitchell, chapter trustee and Memphis artist Susan Marshall, board member and producer Scott Bomar and folk artist/board member Shannon McNally.
Saturday October 26, the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy sponsored their annual Grammy GPS event, a day-long conference of panels, workshops and performances intended to encourage new and young producers and artists as they are making their way in the music industry. Panelists for the day included Jonathan Poneman of Seattle’s Sub Pop label, Ben Swank of Nashville-based Third Man Records, and noted Memphis hip-hop producer Carlos “Six July” Broady. The day ended with a gala reception at the Stax Museum next door.
Backstage was sheer pandemonium after the Recording Academy concert at the Levitt Shell. It was also as hot as an oven, but performers and some chapter officers and board members got an opportunity to relax and hang out briefly.
At the end of a wonderful evening of commemorating 40 years of The Recording Academy in Memphis at the Levitt Shell, all of the evening’s performers came out on stage a final time to thunderous applause.
To close out the Memphis Recording Academy’s 40th Anniversary concert, Luther and Cody Dickinson’s North Mississippi Allstars came on stage along with bluesman Duwayne Burnside. Any North Mississippi Allstars show is great fun, and this was a rousing and appropriate way to close out the night.