Category Archives: TVD Memphis

My Big Star Story
by John Fry

Word has made its way to our office today that legendary Ardent Studios founder and producer John Fry has passed away in Memphis. “The 69 year-old Fry died on Thursday afternoon at Methodist East hospital, where he was taken after suffering a cardiac arrest at his Germantown home,” the Commercial Appeal has reported.

Mr. Fry was an early and vigorous proponent of the website you’re reading at present and it’s with heavy hearts we remember him with his own recollections today, as published here on March 29, 2010.
—Ed.

One day in 1968, I walked into my office to find a young man still in his teens, seated in my chair, with his boots propped up on my desktop, smoking a cigarette. Once I relocated him, I learned that he was Chris Bell. I would soon meet Andy Hummel, as the two, along with Steve Rhea, were starting to join the after-hours recording crew at Ardent. I already knew Alex Chilton from his visits to Ardent for Box Tops overdub and mixing sessions. A bit later I would meet Jody Stephens as he joined Chris and Andy on drums when Steve left for college.

Of course, there would be no Big Star band until a few years later, but this day is as good as any to mark the start of a journey that Alex, Andy, Chris, Jody, and I would wind up taking together. That journey has been well described in several different formats. The life stories of the individuals involved would progress in ways that none of us could have envisioned.

For me, the experiences included getting to participate in the recording and release of music I loved then and still love now, the bitter feeling of total commercial failure in the Memphis ashes of 1975, an early morning phone call in 1978 with bad news, and the ultimate acceptance of the music by generations of fans and musicians, many unborn at the time it was recorded.

Recounting some recent events may express my feelings better than talking about the distant past. Fast forward to 2008. Jody Stephens shouts from his office across the hall from mine “Hey, we’ve got a show in London on August 28.” My response is, “I’m going.”

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We’re closed.

TVD Memphis is on hiatus, however we are accepting applications to reopen the local shop. If you’d like to add your voice to the conversation, shoot us a note!

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TVD Recommends: Shangri-La Records 25th Anniversary Shindig at 1884 Lounge, 11/30

Shangri-La Records is one of Memphis’ most longest running and notable record stores. In the time since its inception at its location in Midtown Memphis, the store has been a cornerstone for local music and rare vinyl finds. It’s been covered by Rolling Stone for the respect and homage it gives to local music legends and shows no signs of slowing down.

Shangri-La will celebrate its 25th Anniversary on November 30 at Minglewood Hall’s 1884 Lounge. The concert will feature The Grifters and Ex-Cult.

The Grifters are a Memphis garage rock act with a history. In the ’90s, they released a string of releases via Doink, Simple Machines, and Sub Pop. Grifters deliver loose garage rock with pseudo-indifference that lets out-of-tune guitar and subtle off-timed rhythms share space with relentless melodies and catchy guitar licks.

They come out of seclusion on special occasions to play sets. This 25th Anniversary might be their last show for a while, so be sure to make it out.

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TVD Video Premiere
and Vinyl Giveaway: Switchblade Kid, “Veronica Sawyer”

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Memphis rock outfit The Switchblade Kid is band building a reputation for modern monuments to punk, garage rock, and nostalgia bombs. Much like their music, the band’s aesthetic is full of grain and fuzz in the warmest of ways.

Last year they let loose their self-titled debut via Miss Molly Music. The album was not only notable for its sound, but its accompanying videos, which also carried a very familiar and warm aesthetic. In addition to gearing up to release a new album, the band is coming out with a DVD containing all the music videos to last year’s full-length. We were able to secure the premiere of “Veronica Sawyer” before it is released on the DVD later this month.

For All the Sad Bastards is a quick follow-up to the self-titled album and a collection of solo tracks band leader Harry Koniditsiotis recorded from 2002-2012. The album expands on the Switchblade Kid’s throwback sound, including slowed-down psuedo-country crooners and indie rock tracks with feelsy ’90s vibes. Any fan of guitar music from the era will find at least one thing to fall in love with.

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TVD Recommends:
Rock for Love 7

Hey, Memphians! The time has come again to rock out to some local yokels in addition to national notables in support of a great cause. The seventh iteration of Rock for Love is happening this weekend with a slew of talented musicians and fun things to do.

The extended weekend is as much a collection of great shows and fun things as it is a fundraiser for the Church Health Center and its endeavors to help the less fortunate. A portion of the proceeds for the Levitt Shell gig also go to funding the venue, so please go to ensure that the Shell will be there for Memphis for many years to come.

Also of note is a CD compilation of 20 exclusive/previously unreleased tracks of Memphis music available through the weekend’s event. The release includes John Paul Keith, Memphis Dawls, Dead SoldiersMark Stuart, and Snowglobe, and will come out via Unclaimed Recordings with help from Select-O-Hits and Audiographic Masterworks. Pick yours up and show support for local music and publishing!

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Vinyl Video: ilkae, “1121”

The late ’90s saw a significant shift in the way electronic music was made and received. Across the pond, Aphex Twin, Autechre, Boards of Canada, and many others all contributed to a growing interest for intellectual electronic-based composition, but Europe wasn’t alone in this endeavor.

Though it was much more successful at flying under the radar, North America had its own hustling and bustling, heady electronica scene. Often reserved to message boards and underground labels, These artists helped define what intelligent electronic music outside of Europe sounds like.

One artist who contributed to the culture and has been prolific in the time since is ilkae. The Montreal-based electronic producer has now covered a lot of ground between the simple tag of “intelligent dance music” and a long list of genres and styles ranging in textures, atmospheres, and content.

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TVD Recommends: Motel Mirrors record release show at the Young Avenue Deli, 8/24

Two of Memphis’s best and brightest have recently come together to create project coated in warm sounds and a familiar aesthetic.

Motel Mirrors is a duo consisting of major local notables John Paul Keith and Amy LaVere. They’re set to release their debut self-titled 10″ on Saturday, August 24, with a show at Young Avenue Deli that any lover of retro sounds will be kicking themselves if they don’t attend.

The twosome’s sound was founded in inspiration from ’50s and ’60s duets like Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty. Their music carries both Keith’s natural ease in writing sentiments bathed in rock’ n ‘roll past and LaVere’s undeniable voice and grace. Now on the other side of a full length album and with sense of comfort playing live, they’re releasing their sound with several originals and some carefully chosen covers.

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The Perfect Vessels discuss production of their newest EP, “Habitual Long-Distance Lovers”

Garage-pop quartet Perfect Vessels have been working the Memphis scene for years. They’ve built a sound of clean guitar and catchy choruses stitched together with plenty of grown-up relationship subject matter. As of late they have been working off of the physical release of their newest EP Habitual Long-Distance Lovers.

The four-song effort bolsters a matured take on the role relationships play in adult life through a sort of jangly garage rock, detailed with catchy riffs and choruses. Though the boys have sought studio shelter in the past, the music for the EP was crafted in much more comfortable place.

Guitarist Graham Burks explains, “Rather than going into a studio to re-do all of our work, we got a little more serious about the craft of our home recordings and decided to release those instead. Because these songs were recorded at home over the course of a year, we were able to grab takes whenever inspiration would strike. We were able to experiment more with the arrangements.”

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Hot off the Presses: Pond, Hobo Rocket

If you’re a fan of modern psychedelia, there’s a release you should check out. Australian outfit Pond are just about to release their fifth album Hobo Rocket through Modular on August 6.

After the past few years, Pond has become one of the most talked-about Australian acts. Members have been bounced back and forth with sister act Tame Impala, but Pond’s core sound has always focused on references to ’60s psychedelia with a 21st century education and lots of easy-to-follow melodies.

Hobo Rocket is the band’s first major recording in three years. (2012’s critically acclaimed Beard, Wives, Denim was recorded in 2010.) The release of singles “Xanman” and “Giant Tortoise” give insight into the pace the band has set for the upcoming full length.

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Festival Fast Talk
with Royal Thunder

Royal Thunder is a metal act often described with mentions of top-tier combos like Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. Although they share similarities, Royal Thunder’s strengths exceed the simplicity of easy reference points. The band brings the thunder with musical epics boasting dynamic arrangements, impressive musicianship, and overarching themes as witnessed on their self-titled 2009 EP and 2012’s full length, CVI.

We got the chance to speak with Royal Thunder’s Josh Weaver and Evan Diprima shortly before their Bonnaroo set.

How long have you guys been here this weekend?

Josh Weaver: We just got here around 2 last night.

Evan Diprima: Late night.

Are y’all staying through the day?

JW: Yeah, we play at 8, so we’re just gonna stay. Tom Petty is playing after us, so we’re gonna check that out.

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