Once in a while, a local music show gets announced which I just cannot miss, and the announcement of a Don Bryant show with soul revivalists The Bo-Keys was just such a show. Better yet, it was being held at Loflin Yard, one of my favorite Memphis venues.
Don Bryant is one of Memphis’ forgotten soul geniuses. Originally a member of Willie Mitchell’s group The Four Kings, he recorded a number of soul sides for Joe Coughi’s Hi label during the 1960’s, but ended up becoming better known as a staff writer for the label, with “I Can’t Stand The Rain”, recorded by Ann Peebles in 1973 becoming his biggest hit. Bryant married Peebles in 1974, and soon disappeared from popular music. There were rumors that both Bryant and Peebles had transitioned to gospel music, and a few gospel releases appeared under Bryant’s name. Peebles would occasionally return to blues and soul music, but Bryant did not, at least until embarking on the recording of a new album “Don’t Give Up On Love” for the Fat Possum label out of Oxford.
Friday night’s show at Loflin Yard was primarily a showcase of the new songs, backed by Scott Bomar’s Bo-Keys, the highlight of which was a funky gospel tune called “How Do I Get There?” which is the single from the forth-coming album. Despite the drizzly weather, the venue was fairly crowded, and Bryant, at 74 years of age, was still in great form and voice, a consummate performer. And thanks to the Bo-Keys ,featuring such Memphis legends as drummer Howard Grimes and keyboardist Archie Turner, the backing sound was authentic, with live horns and real instruments, and no modern anachronisms. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear authentic Memphis soul music as it was intended to be heard.
Record Store Day is a worldwide holiday held in April to call attention to an endangered species, the neighborhood record store. Record companies release all kinds of cool limited-edition vinyl LP’s and singles, and local stores often sponsor live performances on the day, and with vinyl sales picking up all the time, the future of independent stores doesn’t seem quite as bleak as it did a few years ago. In Memphis, three stores were official Record Store Day participants, and the first one I visited was Goner Records in the hip Cooper-Young neighborhood. Goner is a record label as well as a store, and not surprisingly they made a big deal of the day, with live bands such as the Blackberries out under the gazebo at Cooper and Young, and a store literally full of customers.
Things seemed more subdued at Shangri-La Records on Madison Avenue, although they had opened an hour earlier than Goner. They had decided to have their live music the next day on Sunday, when they were having Son of Mudboy play for an album release party for the reissue of Jim Dickinson’s legendary Beale Street Saturday Night compilation, but there were still a number of crate diggers enjoying their Saturday afternoon by browsing.
The third and final store participating in Record Store Day was Memphis Music, the blues-oriented record store on Beale Street, where the Memphis Music Commission had decided to sponsor live performances. Unfortunately, things were quite hectic on Beale, with a Corvette competition, and the annual Africa In April festival at Church Park, but small crowds gathered to enjoy Memphis singer-songwriter Michael Joyner and the a cappella vocal group Artistik Approach. It needs to also be pointed out that Memphis Music has greatly increased its vinyl selection over the last year or so, and is not just a store for tourists, but is worth a visit from local music lovers as well. It’s selection of import CD”s, particularly those with a Memphis connection, is also worth browsing.
2152 Young Av
Memphis, TN 38104
Tweets by GonerRecords
1916 Madison Av
Memphis, TN 38104
Tweets by ShangriLaTN
149 Beale St
Memphis, TN 38103
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.
Emerging from C-Loc’s Concentration Camp, Max Minelli is a veteran of the Baton Rouge rap scene, and is consistently popular with fans in Louisiana’s capital city. With Heart of a King, Max Minelli elevates his game to a new level with 14 tracks produced by some of Louisiana’s finest producers, including Gussmakemybeats and C-Loc veteran Nathan “Happy” Perez. As always, Max Minelli gives his fans a street edge, but one with an intelligent difference, as Max is first and foremost a lyricist. Songs like “Can I Help You” and “Heart Of A King” deliver the crunkness, but there are also sunny, windows-down anthems like “City Is Mine”, and Minelli’s advice to youth to “Be Respected” is far more positive than the average street rapper making records today. Several of the songs feature Max’s new Dead Game Records labelmates, the rapper Kevin Gates and singer Malachi X. Altogether a release of consistent quality from one of Baton Rouge’s finest.