Local filmmakers celebrate Bluff City indie underground

Tav Falco, one of the featured musicians in 'Meanwhile in Memphis' by Nan Hackman and Rob Parker.

Tav Falco, one of the featured musicians in "Meanwhile in Memphis" by Nan Hackman and Rob Parker.

The Night of the Panther

Featuring Tav Falco’s Unapproachable Panther Burns, Jack Oblivian and the Tearjerkers, and Michael Hurtt’s Haunted Hearts, plus special guests.

Sunday, Minglewood Hall’s 1884 Lounge, 1555 Madison. Doors at 7 p.m.; showtime is 8 p.m. Cover: $10. 18-and-over show; 901-312-6058. For more information on “Meanwhile in Memphis,” go to www.meanwhileinmemphis.com.

Nan Hackman and Rob Parker are the creators and co-directors of the "Meanwhile in Memphis" documentary.

Nan Hackman and Rob Parker are the creators and co-directors of the "Meanwhile in Memphis" documentary.

Musician and fledgling filmmaker Robert Parker is a determined man. His first documentary, "Meanwhile in Memphis: The Sound of a Revolution," a thematic survey of the city's modern musical underground, has been six years in the making.

"There's been so much documentation of the older, golden age of Memphis music, no one has really covered the new stuff, what's happened in the last 30 years, and given it proper context," says Parker. "That's what we want to try and do."

Along with co-director and editor Nan Hackman, the pair has been filming interviews and performances and compiling archival material since 2006. The project is currently in its editing stage.

In an effort to raise awareness and funds to finish the documentary, the filmmakers are staging a concert Sunday at Minglewood Hall's 1884 Lounge that is being dubbed "The Night of the Panther."

The event will be headlined by Bluff City trash-rock legends Tav Falco's Unapproachable Panther Burns, who are among the central characters in "Meanwhile in Memphis."

The concert also will feature performances by Jack Oblivian and the Tearjerkers and Michael Hurtt's Haunted Hearts. Oblivian and Hurtt are both former members of Panther Burns, and they, along with other group alumni — including Ross Johnson, Lorette Velvette, Alex Greene, and Doug Easley — will be appearing as part of this celebratory event.

The Panther Burns' first two recordings, Behind the Magnolia Curtain/Blow Your Top, were recently released in a deluxe edition by Mississippi's Fat Possum label. Thirty-plus years and 15 albums later, the Panther Burns are still going strong. Now based in Europe — Falco is a longtime resident of Vienna, Austria — the group's latest record, Conjurations, was released in 2011.

Parker, a local guitar veteran who has played with Rufus Thomas and Hope Clayburn, saw the film as an opportunity to document artists like Falco and the "DIY maverick spirit of the modern Memphis music community."

The film tracks the history of the city's independent underground in the post-Stax era, focusing on influential figures like Monsieur Jeffery Evans, Oblivians, the Grifters, Al Kapone and Jay Reatard, among others.

"It took us a long time to really pinpoint what part of the Memphis music story we wanted to cover and how we could bring all these different musicians and elements together," Parker says. "We decided to do it thematically. We found a lot of common elements with all the people we talked to — a belief in low fidelity (recording), happy accidents … which created music that ended up being very influential without trying."

Sunday's concert will inaugurate a 60-day Kickstarter campaign to fund postproduction and music licensing costs (a trailer of the film can be viewed at meanwhileinmemphis.com). Those who donate to the Kickstarter campaign will receive incentives including a limited-edition soundtrack, original art and photo prints.

Parker hopes to have the film completed for showing at festivals in 2013, and have a DVD release with bonus material ready later next year.

© 2012 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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