Celebrating the Renewal of Crosstown at a Block Party @CrosstownArts

Art, Artists, Bands, entertainment, events, music


I had seen online that a block party was being held in the Crosstown neighborhood along North Cleveland Street near the old Sears building that they are hoping to turn into artist’s residences and a medical clinic, so I headed down there around 6 PM, and found things well under way, with plenty of art happenings going on, an outdoor stage with a DJ and later musicians from the nearby Community Music School of the Visible Music College, and a food truck from Revival Southern Food. Crosstown Arts, who was sponsoring the block party, also has taken over the Crosstown Flea Market and it was open special later hours. A corner of the flea market is being turned into a headquarters for the Story Booth after-school program, a Crosstown initiative that is centered around creative writing and music and seems somewhat similar to the superb Neighborhood Story Project in New Orleans. Other highlights included spoken word poetry in the gallery next to the Community Music School, and a hot chocolate tent from Tart (“Taste the Art”), a coffee house that will be opening at Cooper and Elzey in the Cooper-Young neighborhood in late November.

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Former Memphis punk-blues legend Tav Falco brought his Unapproachable Panther Burns band into the Hi-Tone at Memphis last Saturday night, November 12, for what may have been his first performance in Memphis since he moved to Europe in the early 1990’s. He was back to celebrate the release of his new book Mondo Memphis, as well as the accompanying reissue of all his back catalog of music and the new CD Conjurations. After an opening set by former Panther Burns drummer Ross Johnson and sometimes Posies/Big Star member Ken Stringfellow, Falco appeared on stage with his new band and dancers. Unfortunately, after four shows in four cities, his voice was just about gone, and he could barely talk, much less sing. Still, Tav Falco was back in Memphis, where it all began back in 1978. It was a fitting homecoming.

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Cedric Burnside carries on the legacy of his grandfather, legendary hill country blues guitarist R. L. Burnside. But what is unique about Cedric is first of all his amazing talent as a singer, a guitarist, a songwriter and a drummer. Even more impressive is how effortlessly he adapts the trance-like hill country style into the grooves of modern funk and rock-and-roll. The Hi-Tone, with its walls lined with multi-colored lights and old Memphis posters and album-covers, provided the perfect juke-joint ambiance for Cedric’s electrified hill-country stomps. An unexpected reunion with Lightning Malcolm capped the night’s festivities, coaxing the crowd out of their seats and onto the dancefloor.