A Tour of the Local Music Scene
Latest News | November 18, 2015
You’ve heard a million times that Memphis is the “Birthplace of Rock-and-Roll” and “The Home of the Blues,” but those two city slogans couldn’t be more true in 2015. With the resurgence of big-name artists coming to the New Daisy Theater, The Hi-Tone helping make Crosstown a hot spot, Minglewood Hall routinely selling out shows, the legendary Orpheum Theatre still packing the house, and FedExForum bringing world-class entertainment to town, it’s fair to say that Memphis is a music fan’s paradise. We’re also honoring our past with the opening of the Blues Hall of Fame, adding another monumental museum to accompany Stax Records, Sun Studios, and the Rock ’N’ Soul Museum. We’ve got our own record pressing plant, DIY recording studios, variety shows that stream across the globe, and enough music fests to make you dizzy, and the sounds that come out of Memphis are as diverse as the people who live here. Now that you’ve been given the official introduction to what this music city is all about, let’s jump right in with biographies on more than 25 bands currently causing a ruckus in Memphis.
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We’ll start with what made us a music city in the first place: the blues. Ghost Town Blues Band are carrying the torch that folks like Jimbo Mathus and the Dickinson Brothers lit for them, with massive tour dates across the country routinely played, in addition to performing at Beale Street Music Fest for the past few years. Ghost Town Blues Band leader Matt Isbell also crafts homemade instruments out of everything from brooms to shovels, and his unique ability to turn household items into blues instruments is displayed on the band’s latest album, Hard Road to Hoe. Daddy Mack (of the Daddy Mack Blues Band) also continues to crank out albums when he’s not performing on Beale Street, his latest effort being A Blues Man Looks at 70.
Another blues artist proving that age is nothing but a number is Mississippi native Leo Bud Welch, who released the excellent I Don’t Prefer No Blues album earlier this year on Big Legal Mess. Welch routinely plays Memphis, and is a must-see anytime he’s in town. Barbara Blue, also known as the Reigning Queen of Beale Street, is also cranking out new music, and her latest album Sweet, Strong and Tight was released this spring. Blue recently received a Brass Note on the Beale Street Blues Walk of Fame, and she can be found behind the piano almost every night at Silky O’Sullivan’s. The Mighty Souls Brass Band released their debut album, Lift Up! earlier this year, and most recently the band had the bittersweet honor of performing during the funeral procession of B.B. King.