Sounds Around Town

Welcome to our semi-regular column, “Sounds Around Town”, all about who is recording what and where in Memphis. (Pictured, Jackie Venson. Photo by Pooneh Ghana).

  • Royal Studio‘s Lawrence ‘Boo’ Mitchell was working last week with Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Jackie Venson.
  • Memphis by-way-of Louisiana swamp-soul chanteuse Marcella René Simien and her band, aka Marcella and Her Lovers, recently began their new full-length at American. Produced by High/Low Recording‘s Toby Vest and recorded and engineered by Pete Matthews, this is the maiden voyage for their new venture at the old American East building, later known as Easley-McCain.
  • Scott Bomar at Electraphonic Recording recently produced and engineered the debut release for Atlanta-based artist Liz Brasher. Scott has also been working with local singer-songwriter Mark Edgar Stuart on an upcoming project.

(Liz Brasher and Scott Bomar. Photo courtesy of the artist’s Instagram).

  • Jeff Powell has been busy cutting lacquers in his mastering room at Sam Phillips Recording, including a box set of Al Green’s complete Hi Records singles (a total of 26 7″ 45rpm records), as well as vinyl releases for Dr. John, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Gregg Allman. He engineered the recently released Afghan Whigs record In Spades in part at Phillips, and produced his wife Susan Marshall‘s upcoming covers album, named after the studio’s address: 639 Madison.
  • Speaking of Susan Marshall, she produced the debut from singer/songwriter McKenna Bray at Phillips, which husband Jeff cut the tracks for. The first single, “The Way I Loved You”, drops today on MadJack Records.
  • There’s been a lot of activity the past couple of months over at Music + Arts Studio. Back in March, rapper and activist Marco Pavé did pre-production for his hip-hop opera there. Jazz musicians and twin brothers Carl and Alan Maguire recorded an album with the legendary Donald Brown producing.  In April, Kevin Houston mixed the Kevin Cubbins-produced debut from young local band Summer Avenue, as well as the soundtrack to a documentary film about famed Memphis dancer Lil Buck. In May, the studio did a remote live recording of the Lovelight Orchestra (featuring blues vocalist John Németh) at Bar DKDC, for a live album produced by Ross-Spang and engineered by Houston. May also saw sessions at Music + Arts for Ruf Records artists Big Daddy Wilson and Dana Fuchs.

(Lovelight Orchestra at Bar DKDC. Photo by Nikki Boertman, Commercial-Appeal)

  • Speaking of Matt Ross-Spang, he recently finished work over at Sam Phillips Recording Service on a new record for California artist Nicki Bluhm. May also saw the release of the Ross-Spang produced Sweet Kind of Blue from British folk artist Emily Barker, recorded at Phillips last year and engineered by Jeff Powell.
  • Red Hot: A Memphis Celebration of Sun Records comes out this month. Produced by Tamara Saviano and Luther Dickinson for the Americana Music Society and engineered by Matt Ross-Spang and Kevin Houston, all proceeds go to St. Jude’s Research Hospital. The sessions were divided between Sun and Phillips, and feature performances of classic Sun material from artist like Valerie June, Jimbo Mathus, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Shawn Camp, Chuck Mead, Amy LaVere, and more. I was lucky enough to play guitar in the house band on the sessions, and I have my own track, a cover of Warren Smith’s “Red Cadillac and a Black Mustache”. (Thank you to Alex Greene at the Memphis Flyer for the write-up).


John Paul Keith

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