July 2009 Archives

Lawsuit filed in A&R salmonella case

Food Poison Journal has more details on the salmonella cases linked to A&R Barbecue's Hickory Hill location. A lawsuit was filed Thursday on behalf of a father and son who suffered kidney failure and had to receive dialysis. The description of their illness is pretty scary.

"The impact on this father and son--and family--will be life-long," said the family's attorney, Andy Weisbecker. "No one can change that, but what we can do is to make sure that they have a way to pay for the care they will need."

Casting announced for 'Memphis' musical on Broadway

Actors Chad Kimball and Montego Glover will star in the Broadway production of "Memphis," a musical about race, music and Beale Street in the 1950s.

The two actors have performed the roles -- Kimball as a white radio deejay loosely based on Dewey Phillips, and Glover as the African-American singer he falls in love with -- since the show's inception and its initial runs in Seattle and La Jolla, Calif.

The book for "Memphis" was written by Joe DiPietro of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" fame, with music by Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan. The director is Christopher Ashley, who also helmed the recent revival of "Xanadu."

The show will run at the Shubert Theatre, with previews beginning Sept. 23 and the show opening Oct. 18.

"From Elvis in Memphis" in expanded Legacy Edition

elvis.jpgToday sees the release of From Elvis in Memphis: Legacy Edition, a two-disc set that compiles material Elvis recorded during sessions at American Studios in 1969. Helmed by Chips Moman, the dates yielded such hits as "Suspicious Minds" and "In the Ghetto," heralding The King's resurgence following the "'68 Comeback Special" as well as marking his return to recording in Memphis after a decade.

Reviews of the release are full of interesting tidbits about this critical point in Elvis' career. Blogcritics.org points out that even the '68 comeback special "wasn't a sure thing at first":

the Colonel originally wanted it to be a Christmas special, which the show's producers Bones Howe and Steve Binder fought against and won. They saw the show as an opportunity for Presley to regain his throne as King and he agreed. The rest, as they say, is history as Presley electrified the world as he had done in the 1950s.

The Washington Times recalls that the American Studios sessions were a departure from Elvis' previous way of doing business.

Mr. Presley, whose career had been stage-managed assiduously by his overweening and overcompensated manager, Col. Tom Parker, agreed to record in Memphis without his minder in tow. The idea was to rekindle the King's recording career back in the town where he had cut his early hits under the tutelage of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips. However, the lean, vocal-heavy style that characterized Mr. Presley's Sun hits was discarded in favor of a more contemporary soul sound, heavy on bass and organ, that for the first time integrated Mr. Presley's voice into a tightly orchestrated band. No Jordanaires. No Memphis Mafia. Just Elvis Presley and a crew of top-flight players.

CMT.com goes further, noting the vital role played by producer Moman, whose contributions to Memphis music are often criminally downplayed these days.

As was his custom, Parker wanted a portion of the publishing royalties for "Suspicious Minds." Moman not-so-politely declined. Indeed, he nearly canceled the session. If you can believe it, Presley's handlers also tried to dissuade him from recording "In the Ghetto," thinking its social commentary might lose some fans. Again, Moman prevailed with psychological trickery. (With so many colorful characters, the liner notes are a lot of fun to read. And you gotta love the photos.)
The collection includes the full From Elvis in Memphis album digitally remastered, along with tracks that appeared on the Back in Memphis and From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis albums. The singles from the sessions are included for the first time on CD in mono format.

Hey, Kentucky fans, coach John Calipari has a new Web site

Former Memphis and new Kentucky men's basketball head coach John Calipari has launched his new Web site, coachcal.com, complete with a blog, a Twitter feed and lots of other bells and whistles. Kentucky blogger memphis wildcat fears the entire state might shut down.

I don't see a dedicated spot for Tigers fans to vent at Calipari, but I do see that, in lieu of a daily motivational message, Calipari asks users to pray for Antonio Burks.

Beale Street Flippers advance on 'America's Got Talent'


Maybe we Memphians are used to the acrobatic marvels who are the Beale Street Flippers, but the tumbling crew wowed the judges last night on NBC's "America's Got Talent." Here they are earning standing ovations for their routine to Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean."

The guys might have had an even larger audition audience than usual since "Britain's Got Talent" star Susan Boyle's interview also aired during the telecast.

Here's a full recap of the show, including praise for the Flippers:

Least Annoying Street Dance Act: comin' atcha from Memphis, Tennessee, it's The Beale Street Flippers. Not - as we expected when we heard the name - a collective of dancing dolphins, but a group of lads who were using the power of gymnastics to "escape from the hood".

The Hoff loved them; Sharon Osbourne's porcelain face tried to contort itself into a smile; and Piers Morgan made an attempt at coherent communication. We have no idea what he was trying to say though, as all that came out was the sound of a slug making its way across an oil-covered linoleum floor.

More praise from Entertainment Weekly:

The way they moved...ran counter to my (admittedly weak) understanding of physics. The judges loved it. Said Sharon, "you're raw, you're young, you're fabulous." Even The Hoff, notorious for tuning out anyone without an XX chromosome, was visibly awed. With a talent like theirs, I hope these guys go far. (Especially considering the activity they claim they'd be doing otherwise: "if it weren't for the Beale Street Flippers, I'd be stealing," said one of the members. ...Cool? Honesty is a virtue?)

Magic Kids get plug on Brooklyn Vegan

magickids.jpgMagic Kids, a Memphis psychedelic-pop band whose members also play in the Barbaras and Girls of the Gravitron, get some nice press today on the hipster blog Brooklyn Vegan (scroll down a bit) ahead of their run of New York shows this week.

They're from Memphis and I first heard of them from a MySpace bulletin from Girls who played a show with them and enthusiastically raved about them. There's not a lot of bio info out there, but there seem to be a lot of them, and they clearly love '60s pop: Beach Boys, The Association, Tommy James & the Shondells, etc.

The blog also includes a download of the band's first single, "Hey Boy," due out soon on Goner Records (be sure to pick up that vinyl when it comes out!).

The Hold Steady perform 'Sequestered in Memphis' (video)


Brooklyn-based indie-rockers The Hold Steady have been through Memphis a couple of times (I caught them a few years ago at the Hi-Tone), and they were good enough to mention our city in the title of a song from their 2008 album "Stay Positive." So here is The Hold Steady, performing "Sequestered in Memphis" on Yahoo's The New Now site.

A couple of other clips from the session are also on The New Now, and you can download the audio for free. Stereogum has additional commentary.

Remember, Memphis claims to have the most mentions in song of any city (I think the going number these days is 899)!

Memphis native honored for chasing down burglar in Washington

A man from Memphis was honored by police in Vancouver, Wash., for chasing down a man who allegedly tried to break into a woman's home while he was inside, then holding the man until police arrived.

Courtney Knox, 33, who works as a welder and diesel mechanic, was flagged down by the woman, then jumped out of his car and tracked the man down. After the man tried to flee, Knox grabbed him and held him until police arrived.

Having grown up in a tough part of Memphis, Knox is philosophical about the role of citizens in fighting crime:

"We can't depend on the police to do every single thing for us," he said. "We have to assist our community to assist ourselves. If we clean up our community, that's a clean environment for us all to live in."

St. Jude team: Pre-chewed food can transmit HIV

A team of scientists has published a paper about the first three known cases of HIV passed from mothers or other caregivers to children via pre-chewed food.

The study, led by Dr. Aditya Gaur, an assistant member of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's Infectious Disease department, is published in the August edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Here's an excerpt from the press release about the detective work involved in this study:

The case that led to this published report was a 9-month-old infant who was referred to St. Jude because she was HIV positive after earlier tests had been negative.

"Her HIV-positive mother had not breastfed her, and further investigation had ruled out transmission by blood transfusion, injury or sexual abuse," Gaur said. Also, genetic testing, led by Kalish at the CDC, showed that the daughter had been infected with the same HIV strain as the mother.

"Fortunately, the St. Jude nurse practitioner, Marion Donohoe, was very thorough in her questioning about feeding practices, and she asked about pre-mastication. It turned out this mother had fed her daughter pre-chewed food," Gaur said.

When Gaur contacted Dominguez at the CDC about the possible case of transmission via pre-chewed food, the center alerted him to two similar cases previously reported by senior author Mitchell and colleague Rivera from the University of Miami. Those cases were not reported to the public at the time because of the lack of sufficient evidence of transmission via pre-chewed food. One case involved pre-chewing by an HIV-infected mother, and the other an HIV-infected aunt who was the caregiver.

A Reuters story picks up on a couple of interesting implications of this study:

Although the practice of prechewing food for young children has been described in various parts of the world, including the United States, the extent of this practice is not well known, Gaur and colleagues admit.

Still, prechewed food is a route of HIV transmission "not previously reported" and one that has "important global implications," they emphasize.

Furthermore, Gaur and colleagues say the practice of feeding prechewed food to infants -- which some caregivers may do during the weaning period -- may also explain some of the reported cases of "late" HIV transmission in infants -- cases so far attributed to breastfeeding.

Orphaned grizzly bear cubs headed to Memphis Zoo

Three orphaned grizzly bear cubs from Wyoming are headed to the Memphis Zoo to join the new Teton Trek exhibition, according to an item by The Associated Press. The cubs were orphaned Sunday when a man killed their mother with a handgun during an encounter that left him with facial injuries and broken ribs. Matt Thompson, curator of mammals at the zoo, told the AP that two more orphaned grizzly cubs from Alaska are due in town this fall. Sounds like a starting five to me ...

Rep. Steve Cohen grills car czar on dealership closings

Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis chaired a House subcommittee hearing today on the decisions by GM and Chrysler to close 3,000 auto dealerships as part of their government-led reorganizations. Ron Bloom, the Obama administration's top adviser on the auto industry, got an earful from Cohen and other lawmakers, according to this article in The Detroit News.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., chairman of the subcommittee holding the hearing, said he wanted to understand "to what extent the task force considered the impact of widespread dealership closures on the economy and on communities around the nation."

He said he was "particularly concerned about the impact of these closures on minority dealers, who I feel will suffer disproportionately." He said the closing of a minority Chrysler dealer in Memphis was "unconscionable."

Bloom said the Treasury Department had reviewed data that showed minority dealers weren't unfairly targeted.

The story doesn't say which dealership Cohen is referring, but the only Memphis-area dealership on the list of 789 to be closed was Southland Chrysler-Jeep, which is actually in Southaven (however, it was in Whitehaven for many years before moving to Mississippi in the late '90s).

UPDATE: The Hill has more about this dealership, which was in fact Southland.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who chaired Tuesday's hearing, wonders why John Roy's Chrysler dealership in his district was terminated. Roy was the only African-American Chrysler dealer within a 300-mile radius around Memphis, and won business from four states. He was No. 1 in sales in the Memphis metropolitan area, but was still terminated.

"To me, it is unconscionable that Chrysler would treat a successful and loyal dealer in such a manner," Cohen said in an opening statement.

Ching,Michael.jpgOpera Memphis director Michael Ching was the featured composer last week for the July installment of the Salon Series: Exploring American Voices presented in New York by OPERA America, the national service organization for opera. Singers from Opera New Jersey performed excerpts from Ching's "A Midsummer Night's Dream -- an A Cappella Opera," adapted from the Shakespeare play.

Ching has posted pictures from the reading here and here on his blog, "Opera and Beyond." He also kept a blog chronicling the development of the piece. Finally, here is some background about the opera from Memphian Jay Mednikow.

Telegraph takes on musical pilgrimage to Tennessee

Graceland, Beale Street, Sun Studios and other Memphis attractions feature prominently in the Telegraph's "musical pilgrimage" to Tennessee.

(T)his gritty city on the Mississippi river - the launch pad from where the blues, soul and rock-and-roll all triumphantly sprang to conquer the world - is our halfway point. The honky-tonk heartland of Nashville awaits; haunting mountain bluegrass and the brashness of Dolly Parton lie behind us in the Appalachians.

While the writer seems impressed with some of what Memphis has to offer, he makes a point of emphasizing Memphis' grittiness, contrasting it rather unfavorably with our state capital city to the east.

After the rough and ready charms of Memphis, Nashville has a contrasting feel - a modern, prosperous city whose attractions include, bizarrely, a faithful life-size recreation of the Parthenon.

He did seem to get quite a kick out of Beale Street, though:

The block was kicking and we discovered an added plus. The bars offered "to go" cups, plastic beakers of our poison of choice, meaning that as we strolled between establishments, skirting an impressive troupe of street acrobats along the way, we were not deprived of liquid sustenance.

All in all, the Telegraph writer seemed to take in all the major tourist sites in Memphis, and he did a good job of communicating their cultural significance. This certainly is a better Memphis travelogue than many I have run across.

Lucero's major-label debut, '1372 Overton Park,' due in October

Music blogs are buzzing today with word that Memphis favorites Lucero have announced an Oct. 6 release date for 1372 Overton Park, the band's sixth album and first for major label Universal/Republic.
The album, named for the address of a Midtown loft where they used to live, finds the band adding elements of Memphis soul to their sound, including horn charts provided by saxophonist Jim Spake. Says frontman and "$5 Cover" star Ben Nichols:

"When Jim Spake put that first horn track down, we began thinking of the record as having a certain sound. We heard pieces of Memphis history being played over our songs and it floored us and we just went with it."

Listen to streaming audio of the new song "The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo" at Lucero's Web site.

Memphis ranks 38th out of 50 in job postings per capita

The Memphis metro area ranks 38th in Indeed.com's ranking of the top 50 metro areas in the number of job postings per capita. According to a blog post at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch site, the ranking was based on "employment opportunities offered on corporate Websites, local media outlets and on-line job search engines." Memphis had 30 job postings per 1,000 people (St. Louis is No. 40 with 29.2).

Washington, D.C., and nearby Baltimore were way out in front, with 133 and 90 postings per 1,000 people, respectively. Washington, as the home of the federal government, is famously recession-proof -- especially with a new administration filling slots and spending a $787 billion stimulus package. Checking in at No. 3 is San Jose, Calif., with 80 postings per 1,000, indicating that Silicon Valley tech firms are hiring. Rounding out the top five, with a lot fewer postings, are booming Austin (56) and Hartford, Conn. (54), the latter perhaps proof that the insurance business is still going strong.

Cities that showed surprisingly poorly -- as in, worse than Memphis -- were New York (42nd place with 28 posts), Chicago (44th with 27 posts) and Los Angeles (46th with 24 posts). Detroit, not surprisingly, was in last place with just 15 posts per 1,000 people.

New York Times gives props to Bo-Keys, City Champs

bokeys.jpgThe New York Times gave a heartily positive review to a triple bill at Southpaw in Brooklyn featuring Memphis soul-funk bands the Bo-Keys and The City Champs opening up for Brooklyn girl group the The Sweet Divines. The reviewer says the Bo-Keys (pictured) -- featuring Scott Bomar on bass along with original Stax players Skip Pitts on guitar and Ben Cauley on trumpet and vocals -- were the evening's high point:

The band's set was a marvel of discipline and dirt, keeping its dance grooves close to the ground, never overplaying or letting solos spiral beyond their tight spaces. In addition to Memphis soul standards like "Soul Finger" the band played "Theme From Shaft," for which Mr. Pitts originated the guitar part. (Maybe you can hear it in your head: wicka-wicka.) If you remember that sound as something good but limited, watching him play it was something else. Carefully using harmonics, changing up the rhythm of his strumming, violently sliding his hand up the guitar neck, he created a whole percussive and melodic universe out of wicka-wicka. It was the sound of origin and ownership.

COGIC outlines plans for convocation in St. Louis

St. Louis' major daily newspaper finally has taken notice of what was major news here in Memphis a few months ago: the Church of God in Christ, the world's largest African-American Pentecostal denomination, is moving its convocation up the river in 2010. That would mark the first time in more than a hundred years that COGIC members have held their annual meeting away from Memphis, the church's headquarters city.

As Otis Sanford pointed out back in April, the news made hardly a ripple on the Post-Dispatch's Web site when it was announced. Today, however, COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr. is meeting with St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay to lay out plans for the meeting that regularly draws around 50,000 delegates. Blake also reiterated that a lack of suitable meeting space in Memphis made St. Louis' offer too good to refuse:

Blake said America's Center and St. Louis' downtown hotels provide more room than does Memphis, where the church had been convening in several buildings and communicating by television simulcasts. At the centennial convention in 2007, fire inspectors had to restrict admission to the FedExForum, that city's new arena near Beale Street, because so many members sought admission.

The Post-Dispatch also gets a comment from Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane:

Kane said Memphis is sorry to lose the convention but added, "If the church weren't headquartered in Memphis, it probably would have gone to another city before."

Colbert names gun-bill sponsor Doug Jackson "Difference Maker"


In case you missed it, Stephen Colbert named Tennessee state Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, a "Difference Maker" for his role in sponsoring the bill that became law allowing handgun permit holders to carry their weapons into establishments that serve alcohol. Here's the video; it's pretty funny.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Difference Makers - Doug Jackson
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

Three 6 Mafia pitching cooking show, 'Cooking Ain't Easy'

Thumbnail image for three6mafia1.jpgMemphis rap icons DJ Paul and Juicy J of Three 6 Mafia are shopping to the cable networks a cooking-show concept they developed with reality-TV producer Adam Briles ("Survivor," "The Contender"). The show's working title: "Cooking Ain't Easy." I found this on the rap and hip-hop magazine SixShot.com, which linked to its sister blog Stone Free (registration required), which linked to a press release at pr.com:

The project was developed around DJ Paul and Juicy J's genuine passion for cooking and entertaining. "Basically, the show is about how cooking ain't easy - and the pressure of our guests turns the heat up," said Juicy J. "We're not just cooking soul food like people might expect - we're cooking Indian food, Italian, Asian, Middle-Eastern food - all different kinds of foods that people wouldn't think we could cook. It's a comedy, it's funny and we love bringing people together for it."

The multi-platinum selling artists will be hosting a hand picked group of personal friends, fans and celebrity guests in their Hollywood mansion each week. The dinner parties and cooking tutorials that ensue are a raucous comedy of fun, cocktails, gourmet cuisine and brutally honest critiques. "It is a completely fresh approach to a cooking show," said Briles. "You get much of the same take-away information that viewers expect from the genre, but it is served up in such a unique, relatable and funny way that it is just flat out entertaining."

This wouldn't be the Three 6 clique's first rodeo in TV, of course. Recall their 2007 MTV reality show "Adventures in Hollyhood."

Memphis drivers really not all that bad, Allstate says

Allstate Insurance Co. has released its fifth annual "Allstate America's Best Drivers Report," which ranks the nation's 200 largest cities in terms of auto collision frequency and deviation from the national average of collision likelihood. Memphis -- the city proper, not the metro area -- comes in a respectable 48th place in collision frequency, according to the data. Furthermore, Memphians were 1.7 percent less likely than the national average to be involved in a collision.

The average Memphis driver would experience a collision every 10.2 years, which, on the downside, is less than the 2005 mark of every 11.5 years.

Back to the bright side: The El Paso Times breaks down midsize cities (500,000 to 1 million population) and finds that Memphis ranks 7th among those.

However, Memphis ranked last among the four Tennessee cities rated: Chattanooga and Knoxville were 3rd and 5th, respectively, and Nashville was 35th (and 3rd among midsize cities).

Mid-South links in Pensacola murder case

The murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings -- parents of 16 children, a dozen of them adopted and many with special needs -- in Escambia County, Fla., turns out to have a link to the Mid-South. The Pensacola News-Journal interviews Byrd Billings' sister, Judy Sisson, who lives in Jackson, Tenn.

Sisson said she and her brother were originally from Longtown, Miss. Their parents eventually moved to Memphis. Byrd lived with her and husband in Jackson when he was a teenager, she added. Byrd and a previous wife later lived near Sisson and her husband until he moved to Greenville, Miss., in the late 1970s.

Longtown is west of Como in Panola County.

Connecticut connection runs deep for summer Grizzlies

Thabeet7.jpgBesides first-round draft pick Hasheem Thabeet (pictured, center), the Memphis Grizzlies' summer-league squad features a couple of other former Connecticut Huskies -- point guard Marcus Williams (left) and forward Jeff Adrien, both of whom had strong performances in Sunday's season-opening win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Scanning a Los Angeles Times story, UConn beat blogger Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant picks up on a line about the "decided UConn vibe" on display among the Grizzlies in Las Vegas.

Speaking of that L.A. Times story, it gets to the bottom of what's up with the big Tanzanian's mohawk:

"I just asked for a trim. . . . I think somebody set me up," said Grizzlies rookie center Hasheem Thabeet.

Elsewhere, Connecticut Sports Examiner Matt Schovinsky has more about the Huskies-Grizzlies pipeline, and he looks at other former UConn players fighting for NBA roster spots in the Summer League.

Finally, the Las Vegas Sun catches up with the Grizzlies' Iranian big man Hamed Haddadi, who is back in the United States after a dramatic few months back home:

"I kind of had an inkling there would be an immense reaction by the people," Haddadi said Sunday at Cox Pavilion through translator Mayor Zokaei. "There was a significant reaction. I know it's changed their vision of me."

Though he doesn't speak English, Haddadi does seem to have learned at least one phrase of American athlete-speak:

While in Tehran on holiday, Haddadi witnessed the dramatic fallout, and widespread demonstrations that garnered global attention, from rigging claims in his country's presidential election.

He gave his shortest answer, through Zokaei, to any of Sunday's questions when asked about what he heard and saw, and felt, during that tense time at home.

"I'm just here to talk about basketball," Haddadi said.

An Englishman's take on the armed jewelry salesman in Memphis

Toby Harnden, U.S. editor for the (London) Daily Telegraph, stopped in Memphis while on a tour down the Mississippi River. Over the weekend, he filed a story about last week's shooting by a jewelry salesman of two robbers in East Memphis. For us in Memphis, it's an opportunity for an international perspective on one of our most pressing issues: violent crime.

Also while in Memphis, Harnden reported on soaring gun sales in the wake of Barack Obama's election as president.

After talking to a couple of local gun-shop owners, Harnden touches on the differences in attitudes about gun ownership here in the South and in the Midwest vs. those on the coasts:

I can hear the arguments now: innocent bystanders could have been killed; unarmed robbers could have wrestled the gun from him; pulling the gun could have encouraged the robbers to fire; he would have got the insurance money anyway.

But all this is beside the main point. The salesman had a legal weapon and used it to protect his livelihood and maintain law and order. He also made sure that two armed robbers were taken out of circulation, possibly permanently. And perhaps some of their fellow criminals will think again next time.

Take away the power of an ordinary citizen to control their own destiny in a situation like this and the US is no longer the country that it is.

While you're checking out the stories, be sure to read the comments. Several readers point out that while personal firearms are exceedingly rare in Britain, even among law enforcement, crime has been surging over there in recent years, while it has generally been falling in the U.S. in the past couple of decades.

If Jerry Lawler wins mayoral election, what about 'RAW'?

The news that Jerry Lawler will participate in a special election to replace Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton has the wrestling world buzzing. Mark Allen of Inside Pulse Wrestling speculates on what a Lawler victory would mean for WWE, where Lawler is a longtime broadcast personality:

It seems as if Lawler winning is a long shot but it would certainly shake up WWE's pitch man rotation. In the past year the company has already lost superb color guys in JBL and Tazz and losing The King would definitely be a blow to the ranks.

Karen Lovely Band wins bid in Memphis blues challenge

lovely.jpgThe International Blues Challenge, "the world's largest gathering of unsigned blues talent," flies slightly under the radar here in Memphis -- spoiled as we are with music -- but the competition, which takes place in February on Beale Street, is serious business in the blues scene. Acts that make it to Memphis typically have risen to the top through a rigorous circuit of regional blues competitions.

In the Pacific Northwest, the Karen Lovely Band moved up from the Cascade Blues Association's Journey to Memphis competition in June in Vancouver, Wash., then took first place at the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, Ore., to win its ticket to the IBC, according to Mailtribune.com in southern Oregon, where the band is from.

"Winning the opportunity to go to Memphis is my biggest thrill yet," Lovely says. "That and the fact that my mom, my brother and my daughter were at the Portland show wearing Karen Lovely T-shirts."
Lovely and her band also are making other moves in the blues world:

During the last three months, "Lucky Girl" was No. 1 on Sirius/XM satellite radio's Bluesville channel. Lovely's band will record with Richard Cousins and Jim Pugh of the Robert Cray Band in July in Los Angeles. In August, the band will perform at the Klamath Blues Festival, the Washington Blues Festival, the Britt Festivals and at a benefit for Habitat for Humanity with the Ty Curtis Band -- the second-place winner at the 2009 International Blues Challenge.

Brandy Kayzakian-Rowe: Images of blues and jazz

Photographer Brandy Kayzakian-Rowe, a native of the Mid-South, has found new inspiration in documenting the jazz scene of Portland, Ore., according to a story in The Oregonian.

In 2006, Kayzakian-Rowe and her husband, Djerek, moved from Memphis, where she had made a name for herself as a photographer of Delta blues musicians. The Delta Blues Museum in Mississippi mounted a show of her photographs just before she moved to the Northwest -- first stop Seattle.

Cut off from her roots, she put away her camera and began to paint instead. She missed the easy intimacy of Southern life.

"Nobody would look at me in Seattle," she says. 

It took a day trip to Portland to change her mind about the Northwest. The city's welcoming nature instantly convinced her that this was where she wanted to make her home.

Now Kayzakian-Rowe, 30, is busy creating portfolios of Portland musicians, and she is working on a book of photography dedicated to the scene in the Pacific Northwest city.

Tim McCarver, a pitcher's catcher

Tim-McCarver.jpgIn an article examining the "all-important, ever-changing dynamic" between pitchers and catchers in baseball, the New York Post caught up with one of the great catchers, Memphis product Tim McCarver. McCarver, a graduate of Christian Brothers High School, tells of learning a list of catcher-to-pitcher responsibilities from Hall of Famer Bill Dickey (who scouted him at Christian Brothers), and of being a sort of "personal catcher" to another Hall of Famer, leftie Steve Carlton. McCarver, now an analyst for Fox Sports, sums up the complicated catcher-pitcher relationship with a jazz analogy:

"It's like asking a great drummer and his trumpet player how this works," said McCarver ... . "A little nod here, a nod there and you make beautiful music."

Michael Jackson and Elvis, in parallel, Part 5 -- The Funerals

It's just about time for me to lay to rest the Elvis-and-Michael-in-parallel meme, but for one last post, The Globe and Mail of Toronto does a side-by-side comparison of the two superstars' funerals:

Elvis Presley's sudden death in 1977 at the age of 42 prompted an outpouring of grief the likes of which had never been seen for an American musician. At the time, journalists tried to explain why the star's death had such a profound effect on fans who had never met the King. In 2009, the death of another King shares some similarities - though there are many important differences - with that 32 years earlier.

There is some interesting Elvis lore in this article, such as this passage about Elvis' burial:

Elvis was entombed in a white marble mausoleum at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis, Tenn., near the grave of his mother. Just 13 days later, a trio of would-be grave robbers was arrested near the crypt. Elvis's father then got permission to move the remains of his son and wife back to Graceland and the pair were buried there on Oct. 2, 1977.

As of this writing, it is still unknown where Michael Jackson will be laid to rest.

Envy magazine recommends Mud Island River Park

ashighwater3.jpg"Because there's more to Memphis than its music scene." That's what Envy -- an urban lifestyle magazine and Web site based in Dallas and Houston -- gives as its reason for travelers to check out Mud Island River Park. The writer says one can "learn the history behind the monumental river and escape in its beauty at the same time." While I don't see any indication that the writer actually visited Mud Island, it's nice to see some positive press for Mud Island (which seemed like the coolest place ever when it opened when I was little).

PICTURED: Steven Murphy watches his son Ryan, 2, play in the Mississippi River model at Mud Island in this May 20 file photo by Alan Spearman.

Fox News' Shepard Smith on Elvis, Michael

Mediabistro.com picks up on Fox News anchor Shepard Smith's comments during today's coverage of the Michael Jackson memorial service, in which the Holly Springs, Miss., native says that a similar event -- Elvis Presley's funeral in August 1977 -- inspired him to go into broadcast journalism:

"It was a hot August day in Memphis, I think it was August 16 of 1977 when Elvis died at 42 years old. And, live television events were relatively new to the nation; and, completely new to Memphis," said Smith around 1:20 this afternoon. "That was the first, to my recollection...it was the first live mini cam that a local television station had ever used in this way. And, it was a fascinating thing to see."

John Fry mixes tracks on Big Star box set

29ardent7.jpgJohn Fry, owner and founder of Ardent Studios and engineer on the original Big Star sessions, returned to the mixing console after 20-some years to mix six tracks for the forthcoming Big Star box set Keep an Eye on the Sky, according to an item from Broadcast Newsroom.

"Of course I enjoyed working with Big Star back in the day, but I had forgotten what a momumental work we had created until I put up those old 2-inch tapes and listened to the individual multitracks.  It was like opening a time capsule and finding all sorts of forgotten treasures. We are all very lucky to be able to relive those days and bring Big Star's legacy to full circle completion."

Ardent's own blog runs down the tracks that Fry worked on for the box set, including a rough instrumental version of "O My Soul" and a cover of "Til the End of the Day" by the Kinks.

For further reading, check out this story on Terry Manning, who worked closely with Fry in Ardent's early years.

PICTURED: John Fry at Ardent Studios in 1970.

The Jonas Brothers' Memphis memories

Today-Show-Jonas-Brothers.jpgGearing up for a July 4 show in Provo, Utah, Disney tween-pop superstars the Jonas Brothers tell the Salt Lake Tribune about some of their fondest memories of playing shows on Independence Day. It turns out the boys had a blast a few years back in Memphis (I haven't been able to figure out what year this was; can anyone help?):

Joe: We have one big memory when we first started touring. We were actually in --where were we, in Tennessee?

Nick: We were in Memphis.

Joe: We spent the whole day walking around, having barbecue. Just one of those memories that you kind of never forget.

Tim Spanton of British tabloid The Sun does a side-by-side comparison of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch and Elvis Presley's Graceland (scroll down below main story). At 2,800 acres, Neverland dwarfs the 13.8-acre Graceland estate in Whitehaven. However, Jackson won't be buried on the site, as Elvis is interred at Graceland, the L.A. Times reported Wednesday:

Jackson's family wanted him interred at the Santa Barbara County estate, the site of some of the happiest and saddest times in his life, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had agreed to help clear any state bureaucratic hurdles, a source close to the situation told The Times.

But in the end, the source said, county officials could not find a way to quickly circumvent legal restrictions governing burial at a private residence.

"It's nobody's fault. Everybody in Santa Barbara feels bad about it," the source said.

Memphis Grizzlies improve in ESPN's franchise rankings

Via the Memphis Business Journal ...

The Memphis Grizzlies jumped 42 spots to No. 71 in ESPN The Magazine's "Ultimate Standings" list of franchises in the four major North American sports leagues: Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL and NHL.

ESPN says the standings measure how much "franchises give back to the fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion the fans invest in them." Included in the rankings are metrics like "Bang for the Buck" (wins divided by revenue), affordability, fan relations, ownership, players, stadium experience, title track and coaching.

Back to the MBJ for an explanation:

In 2008, the Grizzlies finished in 113th place. This year, the franchise saw significant improvement thanks to a ninth place outcome in affordability and strong gains in the players, coaching, title track and stadium experience categories.

The Griz's worst showing was in the ownership category, which is a not-uncommon area of criticism.

RELATED: "Your Memphis Grizzlies, the Biggest Losers."

Jay Reatard has NPR's Song of the Day

JayReatard2.jpgNPR's Song of the Day segment today features "It Ain't Gonna Save Me" by red-hot Memphis rock-and-roller Jay Reatard. The song is the advance single from the forthcoming album Watch Me Fall, due out Aug. 18 on Matador Records.

Here's what NPR writer Alex Cohen has to say about Reatard (who I never would have described as "plus-sized"):

Reatard has a big voice and bigger stage presence: Hailing from Memphis, Tenn., he's a plus-sized guy with a huge mop of long curls that thrash wildly when he whales on the guitar. He may not look the part of a long, lean, Mick Jagger-style beanpole, but "It Ain't Gonna Save Me" demonstrates that he's got all the star quality he needs.

And, in case you missed it, here's the article from a couple of weeks ago tracing Reatard's and Amy LaVere's paths to success in music.
  • About Links to Memphis

Deputy Online News Editor Mark Richens takes you through all the news about Memphis from sources outside the Mid-South.