Creative Christmas Gift Ideas #5: Memphis Music

First of all, I will state that I am by no means a local music expert or historian. I just love the local music scene and probably attend 3-4 shows a month. So this is just a list of bands that I listen to regularly either on my iTunes and/or attended a live show recently. Im sure that there are some other local blogs that do a much better job of covering and eloquently writing about local Memphis music. But here's my current top 10. But honesty there's just too much good music in this town for one blog post. Anyway, check some of this out and buy someone on your list a CD or take them to a show. I love going to shows so I tried to include tour dates for the bands that have shows coming up.

Also, I recommend that you go to Otherland's Coffee Bar to catch some shows. With only a $5 cover, it's an incredible deal and it's where I go to hear many of my favorite bands and find new favorites. They're very selective and I think on average you could show up any night, not know who's playing, and still have a good time. Also, even though it's know as a coffee bar, you can order beer and you can for a small fee bring your own bottle of wine or booze. I tend to enjoy the show with my friend Mr. Beam.

Grace Askew
If Grace is playing in town, I'm there. Seriously, I can be a bit of a groupie. But I dont have a crush, I just love her music. The old soul sound of her voice, the  imagery and storytelling in her writing, the faces she makes when she sings, and the little intros about the songs... it all comes together for incredible Memphis Blues. When I'm painting, you can bet that I have Grace Askew on the playlist. Looks like her next show is Thu, Dec 9th at The Brooks 5-7pm.


Two words for you: "Blue Dress." Play that song, dim the lights, and pull your girl close to you (or guy as your case might be). At the end of the song, you should have a new appreciation for this band. I'd characterize most of their music as that rock/alt country style. Their live shows are killer and you can even catch a free one from time to time at Swanky's. They usually do a packed out Christmas show every year with lots of local musicians that pop in for a song or two. So find them on Facebook and be on the lookout for that. 

Another indie/folk singer/songwriter girl that I love. She's on tour a lot so she's getting harder and harder to catch in Memphis. In 2009, I had the chance to book her at one of my art openings

Holly Cole and the Memphis Dawls (or the Dawls, the Heathens, the whatever-we're-calling-the-rest-of-the-band-today)  As my old favorites are getting harder to find playing in town, I'm having to find new favorites. I'm becoming a regular at Holly Cole's shows.

I just want to say that I was there in the audience for this Ardent Sessions recording. In fact, watch the clip. The shot of someone tapping their foot to the music, yeah those are my TOM's shoes. Still one of the coolest shows I've ever attended because it you're inside Ardent Studios and being a part of a live recording. You should definitely try to go to one of the sessions if you get the chance. Anyway, they are another local band that I've seen so many times that I've jokingly been accused of stalking them. 


Lucero was one of the first local bands that I feel in love with and started following. Although they play 150-200 live shows a year according to their website, they don't play in Memphis often. Like maybe twice a year. So you better catch them whenever you can. Looks like they are playing at Minglewood Hall on Dec 23rd.

Although their shows are few and far in between, it's not because they're out touring. They live and work here in Memphis at jobs that wouldnt permit taking off for tours. I think the music is an excuse to buy cool toys. So add them on Facebook and you should be able to catch them. Also, you can download 20 tracks from their bampcamp site for free and enjoy their sound anytime.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqb7Jwi6Bq8 Funny, i think this video too was shot at a show I attended.

Jump Back Jake
I haven't seen these guys play yet but I want to. I hear it's a great show. You can get some free tracks from their bampcamp site. My iTunes tells me that I've played their "King of Romance" single 33 times.

Blair Combest
I've seen Mr Combest play but only a few songs when he hosts a Girls Night Out (aka Blair and the Women night) at Otherlands. It's a sweet gig. Even though I can't sing, I can't help but be jealous. He gets to plays host to some of the best local singer/songwriter girls and does a duet with each of them. The next one is Nov 26 at 8pm.

Ryan Peel
I've only seen Ryan Peel play once, but he's frequently playing around town and often for free. He's very good so you better catch him soon before he gets big and stops playing in Memphis. Because he will. It's just a matter of time. He's a little to pop for me, but the girls get big goo-goo eyes for him. So take the girlfriend to this one even if it's not really your style. Ryan will be your wingman for the evening.

And for your Christmas CD collection you should buy BB King's A Christmas Celebration of Hope if only for the track "Back Door Santa."

Check out some creative and quirky local music videos:

Other links:

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