Celebrating The World We Knew With Tav Falco’s Panther Burns #MMHF13

Bands, entertainment, events, music, videos

Tav Falco and the Panther Burns were a vague name on posters and albums at Poplar Tunes in my youth, and I sadly didn’t discover what all the fuss was about until later, long after Tav had left Memphis behind for Paris and Vienna. But the band, whose name is taken from a plantation home and post office in the Mississippi Delta, has alternately thrilled or exasperated Memphians for years with their quirky blend of punk-inflected blues, agit-prop political songs and theatre, rockabilly romps with an occasional tango or Frank Sinatra cover. Falco continued to record in Europe, but Memphis didn’t get to see him again until 2012, when he performed at the old Hi-Tone on Poplar as part of the release of his book Ghosts Behind The Sun: Splendor , Enigma and Death in Memphis (which is an epic, and a must-read for any fan of Memphis music). That night was marred by Tav’s hoarseness, the result of a grueling tour schedule, but Saturday night’s performance at the Memphis Music & Heritage Festival was a stunning success, with Tav in great form and an audience of true fans and admirers in front of the stage. Tav Falco’s music is slowly being reissued by Big Legal Mess Records, a subsidiary of the Oxford-based Fat Possum label. All of his albums are worth purchasing.


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.