Each year, the national Guitar Center chain sponsors a nationwide drum-off, searching for presumably the best drummer in the country. The winner wins cash, a lot of new drum equipment, and a considerable amount of fame and probably endorsements as well. With its legacy of soul, funk and gospel music, the city of Memphis has consistently produced some of the best drummers in the country. On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, several young Memphis drummers competed in the preliminary rounds of the local competition, seeking the right to represent Memphis at the Southeast regionals. I was particularly impressed with both Jonathan Chaffen and Desmond Harris this year, and enjoyed the competition even more since the rules were changed to ban octapads, triggers and loops, which had become intrusive in recent years. This year, drummers had to show their skill on the traditional acoustic drum set alone, and Memphis drummers definitely rose to the occasion.
Memphis’ own Ghost Town Blues Band plays far more than blues, and at the January 22nd release party for their new self-produced album “Hard Road To Hoe” at the Rum Boogie Cafe, they unveiled the single “Seventeen”, an absolute jewel of a soulful rock ballad, reminiscent of New Orleans band The Radiators. Purchase the album on iTunes here
Hattiesburg blues musician Wes Lee has a following in the Southern part of Mississippi, but this was my first time encountering him at Juke Joint Festival. He played a version of the traditional spiritual “John The Revelator” AKA “The Book of the Seven Seals” , which caught my attention because I had just heard a quartet version of it on Spotify a few days before.
Check out this hot new video from Lil Wyte & Jelly Roll on the song “This Down Here”, taken from their current album No Filter, which is in stores everywhere, or available from iTunes here.
The Hi Rhythm Section plays the standard “Soul Serenade” at the 40th Anniversary celebration of the Memphis chapter of The Recording Academy at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park, Saturday, 7/13/13
Duwayne Burnside plays with his band and special guests Kinny Kimbrough and Kenny Brown on the first night of the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic in Waterford, Mississippi, 6/28/13
David Kimbrough plays on the dulcimer in a duo with his drummer at the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic in Waterford, Mississippi on Friday, 6/28/13
The David Kimbrough Band performs for the the crowd at the first night of the Hill Country Picnic on Friday, 6/28/13
Junior Kimbrough’s son David performs with his band at the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic in Waterford, Mississippi on Friday, 6/28/13
Eric Deaton performs at the first night of the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic at Betty Davis’ Ponderosa in Waterford, MS, 6/28/13