Al Kapone was actually among the earliest batch of locally-based rappers, scoring big with his original single “Lyrical Drive-By.” But as the years have progressed, Kapone, whose roots are undeniably street, has become something of a civic cheerleader for Memphis, a gangster rapper who can comfortably perform with the Bar-Kays or the Bo-Keys, or even the Memphis Symphony. During the Grizzlies’ recent amazing season, Memphis fans found Kapone’s “Whoop That Trick” from the movieHustle and Flow as the ultimate expression of the team’s grit and grind. Kapone is also a past president of the Memphis chapter of The Recording Academy, and his brief performance at the Levitt Shell gave the crowd a chance to join in the “whoop that trick” mayhem. But it was Al’s “The Music” that made a more lasting impression on this momentous night, as the lyrics celebrate the history and legacy of our city as a place where music is born.
Jimmy Davis, the former lead singer for the popular local rock band Junction, is one of Memphis’ most-beloved rock and roll singers, and a past president of the Memphis chapter of The Recording Academy. His appearance at the chapter’s 40th Anniversary party was well-received.
I was not at all familiar with Robbie Romero prior to his appearance at the Levitt Shell during The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter’s anniversary. He came out playing an accordion, and did a short set of good, rocking Louisiana music.
Memphis indie rocker Holly Cole has been fairly well-known in Memphis for several years, but this year has been the real break-out year for her latest venture, the trio with Jana Misener and Krista Wroten known as the Memphis Dawls. The Dawls, judging from their performance at the Levitt Shell for the Recording Academy shindig, bring a punk/indie sensibility to the kind of country/folk ethos that fueled Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. But there are tinges of jazz and soul as well, and appearance-wise, the trio cultivates a decidedly late-1940’s aesthetic. Certainly we’ve been hearing more about them this year, and from what I heard at the Shell, with good reason. All their recorded music can be mailordered by going to http://thememphisdawls.storenvy.com/, or it can be purchased for download at their Bandcamp site.
I was not at all familiar with Memphis gospel singer Sherri Jones-Moffett, but her performance at The Recording Academy anniversary concert was rousing, and I certainly recognized her bass player, the enigmatic MonoNeon. She was ably assisted by Wendy Moten and Stephanie Bolton as backup singers, too.
The Memphis chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (now The Recording Academy) was founded in 1973, at the high-water mark of Memphis as a music recording city. As 2013 is the 40th anniversary of the chapter’s founding, it was appropriate that some sort of celebration be given, but uniquely, this year the local chapter decided to give a gift to the people of Memphis in the form of an all-star free concert of many of the city’s best musicians at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park. Fortunately, the weather was sunny and comfortable and perfect for the event, and the venue filled to overflowing before the first act had even appeared on stage.