From the Hi-Tone to Mud Island Amphitheater, August’s music calendar is packed with must-see bands stopping in Memphis. True to a city with more venues than can be counted on both hands, there’s something for everyone. We at Memphis magazine did the service of narrowing down five you shouldn’t pass on. Dust off REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity, brush up on your Joe Walsh, and check out a band or two you haven’t heard. It’ll be worth your time.
REO Speedwagon: August 25 at The Botanic garden. 6 pm.
REO Speedwagon celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2007. Since then, they haven’t slowed down — touring with other bands of the era like Chicago, Tesla, and Def Leppard. Memphians who fondly remember 1980 can probably recall the lyrics to anthems like “Keep on Loving You” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” which appeared on their best-selling album, Hi Infidelity. Respect to the band that keeps on keepin’ on.
Watch REO Speedwagon play “Time For Me To Fly” on Midnight Special in 1980:
David Bazan (with Michael Nau): August 10 at the Hi-Tone. 7 pm.
I spoke with David Bazan in February when the Seattle-born musician came through town on a cross-country living room tour. He had recently completed a project named Bazan Monthly — an experiment that pushed him to release two tracks a month. The result was a rainstorm after a three-year songwriting drought. Bazan re-recorded 10 of 20 Monthly tracks and released them this May as a superb new album named Blanco — arguably his best to date. Bazan’s upbringing is rooted in fundamental Christianity, his father being an evangelical pastor. It colors the long-time solo artist’s discography from the start of his 1990s band Pedro the Lion to his critically-acclaimed “break up album with God” Curse Your Branches.
Watch David Bazan perform songs from Blanco on Seattle’s KEXP:
Spray Paint (with Rebel): August 20 at the Hi-Tone. 9 pm.
Toward the end of my conversation with Bazan, he told me he’d been listening to an album called Dopers by a band named Spray Paint. I haven’t stopped spinning it since my first listen. The Austin, Texas noise-rock trio does a lot with little. I can’t say they fall somewhere between Jesus Lizard and Sonic Youth without noting that they confidently make their own way. Spray Paint released a four-track EP in June titled Bogans and Hoons. It’s disorienting, well-paced, and an easy listen to throw on repeat.
Watch Spray Paint play at Gonerfest ’10:
Joe Walsh: August 13 at Mud Island Amphitheater. 8 pm.
Back in the ’80s, you could catch Joe Walsh wearing jean shorts in the front yard of his Memphis home. Maybe you’d spot him sitting in with musicians at any number of local dive bars.
In 1995, Walsh told the Commercial Appeal that “Memphis was and still is a real center of undiscovered talent and just tradition … in the West Coast's continuing search for some kind of identity, I just decided to come to Memphis and spend time there.”
The James Gang and Eagles’ guitarist ducked into the city, made nice with an array of Memphis weirdos, opened Kiva Recording Studio, and left a mark when he left.
Watch Joe Walsh and Rolling Stones’ Ron Wood perform in Memphis in 1987:
Ceremony (with Touche Amore, Gouge Away): August 12 at the Hi-Tone. 9 pm.
I first saw Ceremony play in a Mississippi storage unit sometime in 2008. The Rohnert Park, California based “powerviolence” band blasted through songs that often fell below the minute-mark. In the eight years since that show, the hardcore band has moved across the scope of punk. Where 2010’s Rohnert Park and 2012’s Zoo marked gradual changes in the band’s songwriting, their latest album, last year’s The L-Shaped Man, is a complete deviation from their beginning’s. The Joy Division-influenced record feels like a natural transition for the group, even if certain tracks fall short beneath clear highlights.
Watch Ceremony’s music video for “The Separation" + “The Understanding:”