Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Band That Saved Memphis

Monday sucked. It just did. Oh sure, we had a great tour of Gibson Guitars. But other than that, it rained ALL day long, there was no music on Beale, and we actually had the bartender at BB King's tell us "If you want the blues in this town, it ain't on Beale...it's in the 'hood at Wild Bills. Take a cab and get his number."

Hope was lost. Faith was shaken. We went back to the room, sipped a beer, jammed a little, and took a nap. Cooper was contemplating a Memphis-blasting on his next post.

When we awakened, we got ready to go out; the home of the blues was about to lose us.

Enter the little band that could.

We saw them Sunday night, but only for the last 15 minutes of their early set. We loved them. But we didn't get their name, didn't know where they played next, and thought it was one of those "coulda been" moments.

Well, before cabbing to Wild Bill's, we decided to give the Street one last shot. Rain poured down, no one was out, and we dejectedly headed to Club 152, wondering where we'd catch our cab. If there were collectively 100 people on Beale Street, 75 of them were waitresses and bartenders.

Then we heard a distant chord, like a beacon in the rain...could it be?

When your faith is most shaken, THAT'S when the miracle occurs. Out of the mist they came: the Mack Johnson band...Chris Johnson and Zach Mack. Two amazing early twenties guitarists, great vocalists, incredible musicians. The drummer is the great bluesman Bobby Bland's nephew. The bassman doesn't move, except for laying down a line you could hang a building on from behind his Metallica beard and hairstyle.

Just when we were ready to quit on Memphis these kids grabbed us by the collar and pulled us back. Clapton, the Stones, Stone Temple Pilots. Led Zep. Lots of southern rock: ZZ Top, the Allman Brothers. One trick pony? How bout the Beatles and Dylan. Kings of Leon. When's the last time you heard a rock cover band play Johnny Cash and Rod Stewart? In the same set, back to back?


These youngsters are playing New Orleans next weekend at Jazzfest, and believe you me they'll hold up fine. I mean, after carrying the city of Memphis on their shoulders, how tough could it be?

At the end of the day, I'll leave you with this: not only did they save Memphis, they stole a day from Nashville. You see, we've changed our itin to watch them again tonight... ;-)

YouTube Video

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Club 152


  1. Well, if a Fish could Save Pittsburgh ...

  2. Yeah its a mighty long way down rock n roll,
    As your name gets hot so your heart grows cold
    'n you gotta stay young man, you can never get old
    All the way from Memphis ...