Lots to catch up on after a couple weeks away, starting with the upcoming South by Southwest music conference in Austin. The event, which takes place March 11-16, will feature a fair amount of Memphis artists and music related action.
The multi-generational documentary "Take Me to the River" will get its official world premiere at SXSW, as the film will play twice, bookending the festival. Performers from the area who have been confirmed include Luther Dickinson, who is releasing a solo album, Rock 'n' Roll Blues on New West Records, March 18th and will be playing multiple events at the festival. Preview a song from the album here:
Luther Dickinson song preview
Stoner rock trio Heavy Eyes and garage combo The Sheiks will also make the trip to Texas. Others slated to appear include the King's daughter Lisa Marie Presley, The Echo Friendly (featuring former local Jake Rabinbach), rapper Cities Aviv, In the Valley Below (led by Memphis-bred Jeffrey Jacob), and Atlanta rapper Canon (who did a stint at Bible college here in town). R&B diva Robin McKelle and the Flytones – who have worked with local producer Scott Bomar – will also showcase, along with Middle Tennessee band Glossary. For more information go to sxsw.com
Moz in Memphis: As my colleague John Beifuss reported last week, the "Pope of Mope," former Smiths singer and solo star Morrissey, has announced a show at the Orpheum on May 27. While he hasn't been a stranger to the South in recent years – having performed in Alabama, Georgia and Florida – this concert will mark Morrissey's first ever appearance in Memphis.
Morrissey, who released a bestselling autobiography last year and is currently at work on his debut novel, had also signed a new deal with Harvest Records and Capitol Music. He is slated to begin work on his first album since 2009 with producer Joe Chiccarelli in February. Meantime, a deluxe reissue of his 1992 classic Your Arsenal will hit stores next week.
Tickets for the Orpheum show range from $35 to $69.50 and go on sale to the general public this Friday at 11 a.m. They're available at all Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com or (800) 745-3000.
Ronson Recording: Hitmaker and über producer Mark Ronson – who's worked with everyone from Paul McCartney to Bruno Mars to the Black Lips in recent years -- was in town last week making use of some of Memphis' historic recording facilities. Ronson, who is cutting a solo album with producer Jeff Bhasker (Jay Z, Taylor Swift), stopped by Sun Studio to cut a pair of new tracks, and then headed to Royal Studio to do some overdubs. That material is believed to be destined for a follow up to Ronson's 2010 effort Record Collection expected late this year.
Festival Watch: Though nothing's been confirmed, a few more names have cropped up online as possible performers for the Beale Street Music Festival in May. Among the latest rumored acts are Snoop Dogg, The Alabama Shakes, Kid Rock and Motörhead. A full lineup announcement is expected from Memphis in May in a couple weeks.
Break on Through at Laurelwood: The Doors drummer John Densmore is coming to Memphis. He'll be signing copies of his new book "The Doors: Unhinged" at the Booksellers at Laurelwood on March 8 at 2 p.m. The book follows Densmore's career with the group and the fractious end of his relationship with the band when it reunited in the '00s. Line tickets are required for this event and come with the purchase of "The Doors: Unhinged." In addition to the book, Densmore will also sign one Doors related item. For more information go to thebooksellersatlaurelwood.com.
Mister Rodgers Neighborhood: It was a packed house at the Stax Museum on Saturday night for Paul Rodgers. The Free/Bad Company founder was in town to mark the release of his made-in-Memphis R&B LP, The Royal Sessions. The record debuted at #1 on the Billboard blues chart last week.
Most of the album's contributors – including members of the Hi Rhythm Section – were on hand to back him for an intimate concert inside Stax's studio A. The show was delayed a bit when an audience member passed out and had to be carried out and tended to by paramedics (all was okay, though). Rodgers – who was sufficiently moved by his experiences in Memphis to donate the proceeds from his album to the Stax Music Academy – played a set of songs off his new album, which is heavy on Bluff City classics by the likes of Ann Peebles, Sam & Dave and Albert King, among others.
Rodgers, who has been busy promoting the album (including making an appearance ringing the closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange, is slated to begin touring behind the album in April.