There’s something strange yet familiar about Motel Mirrors—like an old photograph of a place you think you know, but don’t quite remember having visited.
The casual chemistry between Amy LaVere and John Paul Keith makes it seem like this happens all the time — boy meets girl, boy plays girl some songs, boy and girl form band. “It’s not that we really decided to have a band,” Keith tells it. “It’s just that by the time we got done having coffee she’d decided we were a band and was already booking shows for us. By the time I got home, we were exchanging ideas for band names.”
Or, as LaVere says: “I’ve always wanted a duet partner — it was immediately obvious JP’s musical taste and aesthetic fit mine perfectly. I wasn’t going to let him get away.”
If the collaboration was obvious to LaVere, the style was obvious to Keith: he wanted to emulate the classic 50s and 60s country duets — George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn. The two dove into their respective record collections, searching for songs they could make their own.
And so they became Motel Mirrors. The pair spent that winter with drummer Shawn Zorn, playing residency gigs at a few bars around Memphis, discovering their sound in those songs and developing original material. After a few months, LaVere approached Keith about an opportunity to record — she’d talked about the project with her label, Archer Records, and there was interest.
They spent a few days at Music+Arts studio with Jeff Powell (Bob Dylan, The Afghan Whigs, Big Star, Tonic, Stevie Ray Vaughan), tracking mostly live, with very few added accoutrements to their stripped-down three-piece. Krista Wroten Combest dropped by to add some fiddle, Eric Lewis contributed a little lap steel, and they called it a record.
Three covers — Mickey & Sylvia’s “Dearest,” “Your Tender Loving Care” by Buck Owens and Susan Raye, and Red Foley’s “As Far As I’m Concerned” — blend seamlessly with originals by Keith and a co-write for the pair, “That Makes Two of Us.”
“One thing that is important to me about the project is that it’s not hokey or corny or campy or anything,” Keith says. “Sometimes when people try to do something with a classic country influence they can get hokey or self-righteous. I wanted to avoid all that and do something that was kind of romantic. The themes are classic — that’s stuff you don’t see a lot of anymore. I wanted to just explore that and do something that’s timeless.”
And timeless is a good word for it. If you put the needle down and close your eyes, you might mistake yourself for being somewhere else. At another time, in a different town. In a bar, listening to a band of strangers, whose voices are at once, both fleeting and familiar.
Perhaps the only thing missing from Rick Steff’s Rick’s Booogie EP is the sound of clinking glasses, some muffled conversation, fits of barroom laughter.
It’s a texture Rick knows well, from years of touring with Lucero, Hank Williams, Jr., and Cat Power. But this time, the beloved sideman is making the noise solo.
Rick says his “booogie,” extra O and all, comes from his dad. After all, it was Dick Steff — a renowned horn player and former member of The Memphis Horns whose credits include Elvis Presley, Dusty Springfield and dozens of other legendary American Studios recordings — who encouraged Rick to pursue the piano, because he said he’d always have work. “He started me playing at 5,” Rick says. “He taught me to watch the singer, serve the singer, and listen as much as you play.”
Judging from Rick’s career, it was good advice — but this time, there’s no singer. Just Rick, his keys and a few old friends you might know to back him up a little. In three songs, he takes you from sparse to full and back again, from honkytonk to melancholy, from one end of 88 to the other.
The EP was recorded at Archer Records’ Music+Arts Studio by Daniel Lynn, produced by Lynn along with Roy Berry and Rick Steff, and mastered by Kevin Houston.
Those friends of his who come along for the ride on track two are Ben Nichols, Roy Berry, Brian Venable, John Stubblefield, Scott Thompson and Jim Spake.
You can find Rick Steff’s Rick’s Booogie via iTunes and Amazon, or download directly from us:
$3.87 Digital Download
The Washington Post described her onstage performances as “remarkable, impeccable.” But perhaps equally as important is her reputation for expanding the contemporary classical guitar repertoire. Lily’s collaborations with international composers have resulted in premieres of new works by Carlo Domeniconi, Reza Vali, Garry Eister, Gerard Drozd, Loris Chobanian, Arne Mellnas, Kamran Ince, Barbara Kolb, Marilyn Ziffrin, David Kechley, and Salvador Brotons.
Her exciting concert programs continue to earn her an active schedule of solo, chamber and concerto appearances in the US and around the world. Recent highlights include concerts in the US, England, Ireland, Canada, France, Iran, Jordan, Denmark, Italy, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and South America. She has performed at the Wigmore Hall in London, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, Banff School of Fine Arts, the Menton Music Festival in the South of France, the American Academy in Rome, and Salle Cortot in Paris.
Lily Afshar has six recordings to her credit which have attracted international critical acclaim. Her first recording “24 Caprichos de Goya, Op. 195” was released in 1994 and her second “A Jug of Wine and Thou” in 1999. Her third and fourth recordings “Possession” (2002) and “Hemispheres” (2006) feature a combined total of eight world premieres. “Hemispheres” reached #7 on Billboard’s Top Classical Albums Chart in 2006. “One Thousand and One Nights” was released in 2013. Her latest release “Musica da Camera” is her first chamber recording and includes a world premiere of Uspenky’s Musical Sketches on Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin and additional recordings of works by Paganini and Piazzolla.
Not only has her passion for challenging the traditional guitar repertoire made her a sought after artist by classical composers, it has also led to some unusual guitar sounds. Afshar introduced quarter tones on “Hemispheres” which was occasioned by the addition of fretlets to her guitar to accurately reproduce the tones.
“Hemispheres” attracted the attention of National Public Radio’s Robert Siegel, who featured Lily on “All Things Considered” in 2006. Audiences have responded with fascination to the fretlets and to her occasional live performance on the traditional Persian instrument, the Seh-tar. At her Wigmore Hall Concert in London (where quarter tone pieces were part of the program), England’s Musical Opinion Magazine praised Lily for her “fresh sense of programming” and “her ability to draw listeners onto the edge of their seats…”
Lily Afshar’s grandparents were born north of Iran in Azerbaijan and later moved to Tehran where Lily was born. She was 10 years old when she began learning the guitar. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music degree in guitar performance from The Boston Conservatory and the New England Conservatory of Music. At Florida State University, where she studied with Bruce Holzman, Lily became the first woman in the world to gain a Doctorate of Music in guitar performance. She has studied at the Banff Centre for Fine Arts and the Aspen Music Festival with Oscar Ghiglia. She received Diplomas of Merit from the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy. She was selected to play for Maestro Andrés Segovia in his master classes held at the University of Southern California.
Lily was honored with the 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Boston Conservatory, and the 2000 Orville H. Gibson Award for Best Female Classical Guitarist in Los Angeles. Her other awards include a Top Prize in the Guitar Foundation of America Competition and Grand Prize in the Aspen Music Festival Guitar Competition, among others. She received the Tennessee Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship Award in Music and an NEA Recording Award. She is a three-time winner of the Annual “Premier Guitarist” awards given by the Memphis Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and she was chosen as “Artistic Ambassador” for the United States Information Agency to Africa.
Lily is head of the University of Memphis guitar program where she received the 2000 Board of Visitors Eminent Faculty Award, and the 2008 Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award. Lily regularly conducts guitar master classes in conjunction with her touring. Her book “Five Popular Persian Ballads” is published by Mel Bay Editions, which also produced her 2008 DVD entitled “Virtuoso Guitar” featuring live performances and an interview with Lily. Her instructional DVDs “Classical Guitar Secrets Vol I & II” are released with Guitarcontrol.com. Her recent book “Essential Bach Arranged for the Guitar by Lily Afshar” is published by Mel Bay Publications.
It’s just past midnight in Memphis as Tuesday bleeds into Wednesday. Clubs and restaurants are tallying the day’s business and locking the doors to end another day. Nightlife has wound down in the Home of the Blues, except for a poorly-lit stretch of road in an otherwise nondescript part of Midtown. The muffled sounds of laughter, clanking bottles, and music rise from a small building illuminated by the dingy yellow glow of a street sign that reads, “Buccaneer Lounge.” Here is where you will find the tightest, yet most spontaneous band in town - The Grip. With grinding organ, pounding drums and soulful grooves, the Grip has asserted itself as Memphis’ true boogaloo band.
Boogaloo is the sound of the streets. From its northern origins in Spanish Harlem to the refined southern sound of Memphis’s Stax Studio, boogaloo digs deep into the heart while keeping the feet and hips moving. This gumbo of soul/r&b/funk swept across the country in the 60’s and 70’s, schooling new generations in the American music tradition of fusing eclectic genres. While that smooth sound never vanished, it became a fetish find in hip record stores in every town…until now.
The GRIP has stepped into the footprints created by legendary masters such as Lonnie Smith, Big John Patton and The Mar-Keys putting the focus on funky rhythms that move the masses and keep heads bobbing. Dedicated to revamping the hottest tracks of yesteryear while mixing in original compositions and new looks at popular tunes from across the spectrum, The GRIP are blending genres and breaking stereotypes to push a fresh sound on their debut EP, Grab This Thing (Archer Records). The release ranges from the smooth stylings of Prince’s classic “Controversy” to a smoking take on Ennio Morricone’s “Farewell to Cheyenne” from the famed Once Upon A Time In The West film score. The album also sports high-bouncing boogie with the original composition “Tutwiler,” and rounds out with funky, riff-filled versions of the soul classics “Jan Jan” and “Grab This Thing.”
Maybe the best kept secret in an underground Memphis music scene bursting with talent, the GRIP bring together a group as divergent as the sounds they produce. The band features “Paper Bag Brown” (Art Edmaiston - MOFRO/Gamble Bros. Band), who handles emcee duties and plays a blistering sax; the silky smooth tone of “Natural Jay” (Joe Restivo - Charlie Wood/J3C Quartet) on electric guitar; Hammond organist extraordinaire “Johnny Roulette” (Al Gamble - Gamble Bros. Band); and virtuoso drummer “Jasco Parks” (George Sluppick - MOFRO/ Robert Walter’s 20th Congress). While each member regularly plays with other groups, something special happens every time the GRIP find themselves together again. “Paper Bag Brown” explains, “When George and I perform with MOFRO, we’ve got our roles and a style that we stick to. But in the GRIP, we try to evoke something different. The alter-egos allow us to focus on certain aspects of our playing that we might not normally adhere to in our regular gigs”. “Jasco” readily agrees, “Everyone’s got really big ears in this band. ‘Johnny Roulette’ has always got something new that excites us.” Playing under performance names allows the members of the GRIP to fully embrace the freedom and originality that exists in that special forum. While the musical selections they play come from a bevy of sources, the feeling invoked is definite. “We prefer recreating the mood of a neighborhood barbecue joint in the late 60’s rather than the hipster clubs of today,” maintains “Paper Bag Brown.” This preference relates directly to the deep roots that the GRIP have based in music aimed for the soul. “Johnny Roulette” recalls, “My dad had The Genius of Ray Charles and Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music, along with some Jimmy Smith albums and I wore them out.” Similarly “Paper Bag Brown” grew up listening to the 45s that his mom would spin by the stack including, “…lots of Motown hits as well as Stax Tunes and Atlantic tunes recorded in Memphis and Muscle Shoals. These sounds were crucial to my development as a musician and in the way I hear and feel music today!”.
Once they began playing together as a unit, the GRIP quickly noticed a special chemistry beginning to develop. Though they each logged time in various other touring bands, the bond that formed kept the group fresh every time they found the opportunity to get together. With “Paper Bag Brown” and “Johnny Roulette” already acquainted with local Memphis label Archer Records, the foursome went into Archer’s studio to put together a record. What came from those sessions reflected the traditions from which each member draws as well as the original vibe produced when they play together. Grab This Thing provides listeners with that deep bowl of home-stewed funk complete with tight grooves as well as proficient individual displays from each of the bands’ four members. While the Grip’s repertoire will always contain songs from the cannon of Sixtie’s Soul titles, the band looks to tackle new genres and become more experimental. “There could be GRIP albums doing our take on movie soundtracks, individual artists, rock bands… most anything that catches our ear. But it will all be explored within the parameters of the boogaloo combo,” figures “Paper Bag Brown.”
“Grab This Thing” is currently available directly from the Archer Records website, through iTunes (GRIP on iTunes) and from CDBaby.com (GRIP on CDBaby). For more information go to The GRIP’s Myspace page at http://myspace.com/musicmudgrip and look for merchandise and vinyl copies of “Grab This Thing” on the Archer Records website.
Music + Arts recording studio is housed within a 1900’s era limestone building (formerly housing Sounds Unreel Studios) in the heart of historic mid-town Memphis. The facility was designed by David Cherry with consultation from George Augspurger in 2007 and is built around an API Vision 5.1 Analog mixing console. The 48 channel all discrete desk features up to 108 inputs at mix and producers may choose between digital or analog recording.
The control room features a 5.1 PMC monitoring system and an 8 foot Stewart Filmscreen and Panasonic HD projector for film mixing. Additional monitors include Tannoy ML 10s with Mastering Lab crossovers, and Yamaha NS 10s. The tracking floor is designed to facilitate live sessions with excellent lines of sight, a robust all discrete 8-channel headphone cue, three isolation rooms and portable LCD monitors for film scoring. The studio has a variety of new and vintage gear including amplifiers, Hammond organs and a grand piano. (more on the gear page)
Recent music and film credits include: Charlie Wood, Jacqui Dankworth, The Hill Country Review, Cody Dickinson, John Stubblefield, Ben Nichols, Sid Selvidge, Don Dixon, Jason Freeman, Black Rock Revival, Amy LaVere, Craig Silvey, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Pruitt, Joyce Cobb/Michael Jefry Stevens Trio, Alex Steyermark and Scott BomarLosers Take All (filmsound), N-Secure -Julius Lewis and David Matthews (filmsound), MTV’s Savage County (filmsound), Erin Hagee and Craig Brewer The Poor & Hungry Re-Mastered (filmsound), $5 Cover for MTV (filmsound), Gospel Hill (filmsound), Tanya Wright Butterfly Rising (filmsound)
Music + Arts is owned by Archer Records, an independent record label, publishing house and studio in Memphis. The label is home to an eclectic roster of recording and performing artists and their unique catalogs of music.
In January 2001, Memphis-based keyboard player Al Gamble and his drumming younger brother Chad decided to take advantage of their years of jamming in the family rec room and form a band together. They filled out the lineup with a guitarist and a bass player, and four months later hooked up with tenor saxophonist Art Edmaiston, who shared their love of Southern R&B and their desire to push the envelope. In September the guitar player opted for the steady money of a gig in a Beale Street cover band, and as time went by the remaining four players grew increasingly fond of the space and freedom resulting from the absence of guitar. It was then that the Gamble Brothers Band, as they called themselves, located their sound. Five years later, on their third and latest album, Continuator (Archer Records), the band deftly demonstrates not only how captivating that sound can be but how much substance it can contain.
The world the GBB articulates on this intriguing record—in the working man’s anthem “Overboard,” about the ongoing act of trying to keep one’s head above water, as well as songs like “Hold Out ‘Til Monday,” “Back at School,” “Heart’s Not in It” and “Shopping Cart” — will be readily familiar to most listeners, because it’s the world we live in today. These themes yanked from everyday life in contemporary America interact wondrously with the gritty grooves and smoky feel they’ve carried forward from the ‘60s and ‘70s R&B records on which they’ve based their sound. It’s a sound to which these four natural-born musicians are the rightful heirs, considering the Gamble siblings grew up in Tuscumbia, Alabama, within spitting distance of Southern soul mecca Muscle Shoals, while Edmaiston hails from Troy, Tennessee, north of Memphis, which is the hometown of bass player Blake Rhea, who joined the group late in 2003.
You’ll find their indigenous inspirations displayed proudly and impeccably on Continuator and in the GBB’s scintillating live performances — flavors cooked up and marinated to perfection several decades ago at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Memphis’ Stax Volt and Hi, Allen Toussaint’s joint in New Orleans and wherever Ray Charles and his band set up.
“My dad had the ‘Genius of Ray Charles’ and “Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music’, along with some Jimmy Smith albums and a bunch of Verve Forecast stuff,” Al recalls, “and I wore them out. I grew up in the ‘80s, and I couldn’t relate to the music on the radio, so those records were my salvation.”
But this band isn’t interested in merely replicating the past or geographically confining its reference points, although they readily acknowledge that they’re paying tribute to the great soul acts. “We try to further the heritage,” says Edmaiston. When asked to name his faves, Art starts with Led Zeppelin and John Coltrane, then throws in Louie Prima — “I dig music with life in it,” he says, — while Rhea acknowledges a fondness for Latin and metal. The group’s music touches on all these things, but, “We keep things in a soulful mindset,” is how Art puts it. The new album’s “East Parkway Rundown,” for example, features a super-vibey, near-psychedelic intermingling of sax and Hammond B-3 flavors redolent of Traffic circa “Freedom Rider,” and the timbre of Al’s vocals recall Dr. John at his most natural, but also present is a wry, knowing soulfulness that was the trademark of the late, great Little Feat auteur Lowell George. There’s a lot going on in these fat grooves and sharply drawn vignettes.
The sessions took place at Memphis’ famed Ardent Studios, with producer/engineer/ mixer Jeff Powell (Big Star, Afghan Whigs, North Mississippi Allstars) at the helm. “I love this band and am very proud of this record,” says Powell. “Rather than doing everything in time to a click track and fixing every mistake to make it ‘perfect,’ we went for a live feeling — a soulful, Memphis-style behind-the-beat feel, with a sound that jumps out of the speakers. I think you can hear how much fun we had making it, and these guys are some of the finest musicians I’ve ever worked with.”
Returning to the backstory, all four members of the GBB lineup started playing their respective instruments early on and went on to log countless hours and miles working as sidemen in blues and soul bands on the chitlin circuit. There were sidetrips along the way, as the Gamble boys both graduated from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, separated by five years, with Al getting his degree in international relations. The logical next step for him was the service, but his decision to pursue career as a U.S. Army officer was irrevocably altered one evening in the early ‘90s, when Al and his wife to be went to hear some music at B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street. Al doesn’t know exactly what hit him that evening — he has to think a minute to even remember who was playing (it was Little Milton) — but he had an epiphany, and that epiphany put him on a path that led to the GBB and a reputation among fellow musicians as the young cat who is most skillfully carrying on the legacy of Booker T Jones and Spooner Oldham on the B-3, the Wurlitzer and the Fender Rhodes.
Both Al and Chad did stints in regionally heralded Shreveport band the Bluebirds (though not at the same time). Al has backed up artists such as Chris Cain, Johnnie Bassett, the Barkays, Irma Thomas, Bo Diddley, Syl Johnson, Eric Gales, Rufus Thomas and the Memphis Horns, while Chad has played behind Rufus Thomas, the Memphis Horns, Eddie Floyd, Chris Cain, Johnnie Bassett, Preston Shannon and Jimmy Thackery.
Edmaiston’s travels took him from the V.F.W. in Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Harlem’s Apollo Theatre and all the way to Japan while touring as a member of the Bobby “Blue” Bland Orchestra. He made it to Puerto Rico and Scandinavia with Preston Shannon and back across the U.S. and Canada with Mason Ruffner. Art’s done time in the Beale Street clubs, much of it in the house band at B.B. King’s; he’s jammed with Ivan Neville, Jon Fishman of Phish, the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, Papa Grows Funk and Jim Belushi; and shared stages with everyone from Levon Helm to Wayne Newton, from the Coasters to Leslie Gore. His sax work can be heard on the Johnny Lang’s Grammy-winning “Lie to Me”.
The band started working up material soon after forming, and in a few months they were recording their debut album, 10 Lbs. of Hum. The record was cut on the fly and a tight budget, but it still indicated the intriguing mix of the past and the present that they were developing, while the choice of covers — including Toussaint’s “Everything I Do” and a take on Holland-Dozier-Holland’s “Don’t Do It” patterned on that of The Band —provided a sense of their rock-solid musical foundation. In July 2003 they beat out 1,200 bands to win the Billboard-sponsored Independent Musicians World Series in Nashville, which got them $35,000 in gear. Two months later they released their second album (and first for Memphis indie Archer), Back to the Bottom. It was a crisply recorded affair that showed the development of their songwriting, which was given further context by the presence of inventive interpretations of Randy Newman’s “Little Criminals” and Gary Wright’s “Love Is Alive.”
Back to the Bottom got the band noticed by certain publications with their ears to the ground, like Paste, which gave the record four stars and compared the band to Booker T & the MG’s and the Meters.
Edmaiston joined the Jacksonville, Fla.-based touring band Mofro in 2007 and soon after that, the Gamble Brothers Band played their last live show, opening for the Black Crowes in October 2007 at Mud Island Amphitheatre in Memphis. Soon after drummer Chad Gamble would join Jason Isbell on the road and travel the world. Earlier in 2007, while on a break from touring, Edmaiston joined Memphis guitar player Joe Restivo, drummer George Sluppick and Al to form The Grip, a four-piece jazz instrumental band specializing in boogaloo music. The Grip recorded the EP Grab This Thing for Archer Records (2007). The EP is available on this website.
With Edmaiston now full time with Mofro, Al Gamble, Joe Restivo and George Sluppick continued to play as a three-piece, forming the band, The City Champs. The City Champs have released two albums on Scott Bomar’s Electraphonic label titled: The Safecracker (2009) and The Set (2010). The City Champs tour regularly and have opened for other acts, including the North Mississippi Allstars.
Al Gamble now spends his time between touring with the City Champs, Charlie Mars, soul singer Marc Broussard and being an “A” list studio session player.
All three Gamble Brothers Band records are still available as CDs. Autographed copies are available on this web site.
Joyce Cobb’s musical journey has taken its fair share of twists and turns, but the multifaceted singer is hardly finished adding new chapters to her story at this point. After beginning her professional calling with the distinction of being signed by Stax during its heyday, she proceeded on to a career that includes highlights such as charting in the Top 40 with a record on the famed Cream label (later Hi Records), and touring internationally with household names like The Temptations, Muddy Waters, and Al Jarreau. For many artists these sort of experiences might have been enough, but despite such early success, Joyce has never stopped to dwell on the past, instead adopting fresh approaches to her seemingly limitless talents.
Raised in her grandmother’s church choir, Cobb later left Nashville for a chance to sing down the road in the Home of the Blues. Upon arriving in Memphis, Stax wasted no time inking her to a deal, setting in motion a whirlwind of events. At a time when Soulsville, USA was pumping out hit after hit, Joyce began incorporating her love of jazz recordings into her soulful styled singing, creating a distinct division in her sound from most vocalists who relied more on bluesy power than styled refinement. Somewhat ironically though, as worldwide travel increasingly became a requirement of her blossoming performance career, she began to find herself more deeply rooted into the ever-expanding traditions back in the Bluff City.
In a place boasting marquee names as B.B., Rufus, Elvis, and Isaac, Cobb soon became one of the foremost ladies in a music scene that had produced few notable female vocalists outside of Memphis Minnie and Carla Thomas. That fact never fazed her though, as she was more than comfortable in what had become a melting pot for the southern soul, rhythm and blues, gospel, and jazz she loved. Rather, Memphis became a platform for countless projects outside of her recording career: she owned and performed in her own Beale Street nightclub, received recognition for one-person stage plays at Theater Memphis, taught jazz vocals at the University of Memphis School of Music, and still continues to host her famous Sunday jazz brunches in midtown. And though the love for her adopted hometown remains steadfast, Cobb anxiously anticipates stepping out this year with a new jazz project, her first album with independent Memphis label Archer Records.
Joining her will be Memphis-by-way-of-New York pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, who, like Cobb, has never been one to sit idly around. In fact, at present Stevens heads or plays a part in a number of jazz ensembles across the country, having played on 62 released albums during his career. In addition, he was recently honored with an induction into the prestigious and diverse company of Steinway Artists, including past legends like Irving Berlin and Cy Coleman, as well as modern players such as Billy Joel and Harry Connick, Jr. When not busy juggling one of his many projects, Stevens often gives solo jazz salon performances and leads various instructional series (a current series focused on the 70s era electric fusion of Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Joe Zawinul, et al).
Not long after moving to Memphis Stevens was contacted by local upright bassist Jonathan Wires, and the two instantly formed a playing partnership that grew to eventually include drummer Renardo Ward, well known around town for his session work. After hearing Joyce perform, Stevens felt that her dynamic style and singular intonation would be the perfect foil for his newfound trio. “I have a few places in Europe I always like to play,” mused Stevens, “and I knew these folks would fall in love with Joyce. It made perfect sense.” With the members solidified, Archer Records signed the group in late August 2009 before welcoming them into the midtown Memphis label’s Music + Arts studio. To ensure the best sound possible, Archer arranged a Steinway D for Stevens, and the September 21-24 sessions, which were recorded to magnetic tape, reflect the classic richness and warmth of sound that will recall smoldering Dinah Washington and Billy Holliday LPs.
On their resultant self-titled album Joyce Cobb with the Michael Jefry Stevens Trio, Stevens leads the rhythm section in deftly complementing Cobb’s full range of honey sweet vocals with carefully composed peaks and valleys. Beginning with the distressed album-opening “Moanin’,” they collectively deliver 12 tales that ebb and flow as a dialogue between enflamed passions and desperate solitude. Drawing on her own uniquely developed mixture of silky jazz and aching soul, Cobb scours the depths of cheerless heartache (“It’s Over Now”) and profound longing (“If You Never Come to Me”), before illuminating the heights of hopeful anticipation (“Jitterbug Waltz”) and unwavering love (“My Heart Belongs to Daddy”, “If You Know Love”). Throughout, Stevens provides vibrantly articulated and lyrical solos, as Wires and Ward glide naturally between moods and tempos with remarkable ease and style. The outcome is a magnificently crafted album coursing with life and full of delicate flourishes resulting from an incredible understanding between the full-bodied musical personalities of Cobb and Stevens.
Look for Joyce Cobb with the Michael Jefry Stevens Trio online and in stores. The group completed a successful European tour in Switzerland, Austria and Germany in October 2010 and are planning to return in 2012. Project photos, audio samples, and more, are available here on the Archer Records site or the Michael Jefry Stevens homepage at michaeljefrystevens.com.
Visit Joyce Cobb on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/joycecobb
For more information about Michael Jefry Stevens go to: michaeljefrystevens.com
Charlie Wood is a singer and keyboardist who covers all musical styles. As a Memphis TN native, he grew up immersed in jazz, blues, and old-school R&B soul. With a quick ear for melody as a child, his dad’s eclectic record collection soon became his favorite playground; later it would be his classroom – with faculty including Professors Mose Allison, Ray Charles, and Percy Mayfield.
Time spent studying English Lit at Tulane allowed Charlie to soak up all the Crescent City’s culture and music – especially the rich piano styles. Upon his return to Memphis, he was soon touring Europe and the US with blues legend Albert King, an experience that offered some valuable lessons on survival in the sometimes all-too-tough music business.
Lured off the road by a Memphis house gig on Beale Street, Charlie’s organ trio chops really began to take shape. At King’s Palace, he found he was free to do the songs and styles that resonated with him – including standards and torch songs. Better, he had a stage for showcasing his own great tunes – many of which wound up on his Southbound and Who I Am albums on Ben Sidran’s GoJazz label and more recently on Flutter and Wow, on Memphis-based Archer Records.
Now living in the UK with wife Jacqui Dankworth, Charlie continues writing, touring and recording constantly. Recent shows have included the 2010 London Jazz Festival’s “Jazz Voice” at the Barbican, a live performance on BBC Radio 2′s “Friday Night Is Music Night” at the 2011 Cheltenham Jazz Festival, and numerous other concerts throughout the UK and Europe.
Lush Life (Archer, 2012) is Charlie Wood’s first effort at documenting his long experience performing the Great American Songbook. Strayhorn’s classic title track is one of the finest examples of the often overlooked craft of songwriting in jazz. This album celebrates many of the great tunesmiths of jazz and 20th century popular music.
There are thousands of artists today clamoring for space on internet blogs, constantly posting youtube videos, desperate to reach out to music lovers and grab their attention. This works for many of them, but there are other musicians, like David Cousar, who remain truly underground, virtually hidden. An artist who has shunned the personal spotlight, he has avoided notoriety not out of ignorance or lack of ambition, but out of a desire to continually grow and craft a body of work.
At heart David is a raconteur, and like any good storyteller, his material often dramatically shifts structures during live performances. Equally comfortable on acoustic and electric guitars, he will fearlessly direct a song in unexplored directions upon a sudden whim, dramatically altering the sonic landscape and adding sweeping textured layers. Whether the musical canvas be psychedelic pop, progressive folk rock, or experimental combination, Cousar masterfully directs his nuanced compositions behind a voice that is capable of being as deep and haunting as it can be hushed and gentle.
Over the last few years he has kept a residency at the Buccaneer Lounge in midtown Memphis, a bar known for booking eclectic acts (boogaloo/soul one night, punk the next). The eclectic atmosphere there sparked something and became a big part of how Cousar has allowed his songs to progress and grow. “They are constantly evolving,” he says thoughtfully, “….virtually everything seems unfinished because I never play the song the same way. Sometimes I will change the key just to make it sing differently.”
A roamer by nature, he is a man who has lived a lifetime full of lifetimes. Over the course of the years he played and toured around the globe with artists from Jim Dickinson to Rufus and Carla Thomas, studied classical guitar theory, and recorded with the likes of Al Green, Willie Mitchell, and Memphis chanteuse Susan Marshall (backing vocalist for Cat Power’s “The Greatest”). In addition to his regular gigs at “The Buc,” he can occasionally be spotted playing with Marshall, Star and Micey (Ardent Records), and his friends in Lucero. Each of these experiences has added a rich subtext to the way he hears music in general, especially his own. “I played in lots of different formats, as a journeyman guitarist…but playing solo allows me to explore the guitar in a different way. I like so many different kinds of music from chamber music, prepared guitar music to rootsy to beautiful pop songs.” With such a diverse and creative musical range and a developing body of material, it would be a wonder if he stayed under the radar for too much longer
Recently signed to Archer Records in Memphis, Cousar is in the process of recording his debut to tape at their Music + Arts Studio. The yet-to-be-titled record is a vibrant and stunningly textured journey that charges through a series of outstanding new works. With a deep vocal delivery often compared to Nick Cave and Tom Waits, Cousar’s rough growl commands attention, whether inhabiting wailing psychedelic rock or over hushed and haunting finger-picked melodies. In addition to the original compositions, David also breathes new life into songs like Lee Hazelwood’s “Some Velvet Morning”, with labelmate Amy LaVere guesting on the ghostly duet.
For more information on David Cousar contact Archer Records: (901) 278-0300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Music is a family affair for jazz singer Kelley Hurt. Her heritage takes her back - way back - to songs of the past and sitting around the house singing with her family. “Nothing could compare to hearing all of my relatives raising a hymn together,” she says. “It was about the feeling you got from being together.”
Raindance was produced by Ross Rice and was released October 2003 on Archer Records. Recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, Raindance is a fresh mix of Memphis style jazz and R&B. It features Chris Parker on piano, Jonathon Wires on bass, Renardo Ward on drums and Doug Garrison (Iguanas) on percussion.
Her musical accomplishments include winning the Phillips Award for Best New Artist from the Memphis chapter of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. She was a lead vocalist for the band DDT a jazz fusion and funk band featuring Luther and Cody Dickinson, Paul Taylor, Jim Spake and Chris Parker.
Kelley has also worked with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, recording the song “Could Woulda Shoulda” which was produced by Jim Dickinson at Phillips Recording Service. She has toured Italy with the Memphis Blues Revue and has also performed internationally with Bruce Willis and the Accelerators.
The rich musical legacy of Memphis has had a big influence on Kelley but she also listened to such national performers as Shirley Horne, Diane Reeves and Cassandra Wilson. Kelley writes her own lyrics, sings the melody and then adds the chords. On Raindance she wrote “The Art of Love and War”, “I Can Come To You”, “Black Widow”, and “How Can I Let You Go”.
Kelley provided backing vocals on Lucero’s latest release, 1372 Overton Park on Universal Records / Republic Records (2009).
A fellow artist once said of her, “How can you not like a gal that drinks bourbon neat, walks around with a pocket atlas and drives a big white gear van?
That’s a glimpse of Amy LaVere.
Always moving, always writing and always true to her quirky, spirited and sometimes melancholy point of view.
Living in Memphis since 1999, Amy released her debut album, “This World Is Not My Home” (Archer Records, 2005) to critical acclaim as music writers seemed mesmerized by her voice, lyrics, and the whole idea of a beautiful woman slapping an upright bass taller that she was. In the words of the legendary producer Jim Dickinson, who produced her break out record, “Anchors & Anvils” (Archer Records, 2007), “She has the whole package-the songs, the voice, the looks, and she can triple-slap the upright bass like Willie Dixon on steroids.”
The success of “Anchors & Anvils” drew the attention of the UK market and soon Amy was invited to perform on the BBC’s “Later with Jool’s Holland” TV show which introduced her to an international audience. She also met her next producer at the show, Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Jamie Cullum). Since then the stages have gotten bigger- Bonnaroo Music Festival, Austin City Limit’s Music Festival, and the Rolling Stone Weekender Festival in Germany.
Amy and Craig Silvey teamed up to produce “Stranger Me” (Archer Records, 2011) which was praised in the US by the likes of Spin Magazine, Paste Magazine, AP and NPR and earned four stars from The London Daily Mirror, The London Sunday Times and Q Magazine. iTunes featured “You Can’t Keep Me”, the album single, which resulted in over 100,000 downloads in the first week.
Success begets success and soon Amy was invited to join a variety of side projects. The first was an all-star collaboration named “The Wandering” which included Amy, Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), Shannon McNally, Sharde Thomas and Valerie June. They released “Go On Now, You Can’t Stay Here” (Songs Of The South, 2012) to critical acclaim and sold out shows.
In the afterglow of “The Wandering” project, Amy and Shannon McNally found success touring together and released an EP entitled “Chasing the Ghost, The Rehearsal Sessions” (Archer Records, 2012) which featured songs from both artists and was recorded live in the studio.
But before Amy started on her next solo album, there was one more itch to scratch- A duet project with noted rocker John Paul Keith entitled “Motel Mirrors” (Archer Records, 2013). The seven song EP, which No Depression called, “Infectious”, and James Stafford labeled it “Catnip for fans of good songs and sweet harmonies” was released as a 10 inch 45 rpm vinyl EP.
Concurrently Amy has also created an impressive list of film credits. Her film career started with Wanda Jackson’s role in “Walk the Line” (2005), appearing as Jesse in Black Snake Moan (2006), playing herself in MTV’s $5 Cover (2009), and most recently appearing with Grace Zabriski as Loretta in Only Child (2014).
Through the end of 2013, Amy’s tour schedule is a mixture Amy LaVere and Motel Mirrors performances. She’s also spending time in Austin, Texas-getting her band ready for the release of her fourth and most ambitious solo album, “The Runaway’s Diary” which is slated for release in 2014. Produced by Luther Dickinson, “The Runaway’s Diary” sets to song stories of her childhood which ultimately led to her running away from home at fifteen.
Sid Selvidge endured in the American folk scene with a genial yet uncompromising attitude toward his work. He hoped you would like his music, but it was more important that he like it first.
For such a well-regarded recording artist, Sid Selvidge was unusual in maintaining an atypical, almost studied indifference toward the spotlight over his decades-spanning career. He’s edged in and out of its glare, finding it warm at points but harsh at others, stepping into it when necessary, but was comfortable being cast in a softer, more intimate light.
Selvidge was not, in other words, a singer who has ever truly aspired to command adoring gazes of coliseum crowds, or to sing duets with household names, or pined for a day when his music might be used in a car commercial. Any one of those things, he once suggested, might well be the end of him.
The ideal size of a Selvidge venue? No more room than for a couple hundred people at most, he said. The frequency with which he would cut a new record? He figured they’ve come around every seven to 10 years. Genial and frequently sporting a friendly gaze, a natural-born storyteller with a penchant for detail, Selvidge was an elder statesman of American music who, when faced with an artistic fork in the road, contentedly took the path that led right back to home.
Because home was Memphis, Tenn., and because Selvidge was a native of the Mississippi Delta, the texture he’s fashioned through a lifetime of work cross fades between 1960s coffeehouse anthems, spare, plaintive Anglo folk balladry and raw, across-the-tracks African-American musical influences – all with palpable credibility. In straddling a folk-blues line, a sonic space where a singer can easily ring corny or aloof, Selvidge’s lilting falsetto conveys both a humble and authoritative air, eschewing brash ownership in favor of a gentle, respectful custodianship for the mother music of the land.
And yet a case can be made that, more than most, Selvidge — whose career crisscrossed with Memphis musical luminaries such as Big Star’s Alex Chilton, producer Jim Dickinson and bluesman Walter “Furry” Lewis — stood as close to the pure, bubbling epicenter of mid-20th century Southern popular music as anyone. Hewing to his own musical compass over the years speaks not only to his free-range musical ability, but also to the fact that Selvidge was the embodiment of Memphis’ most heartfelt musical mantra, a true-to-the-music ethic that unveiled itself as creative compulsion instead of commercial ambition.
“I do this for myself. I have to do what I do,” Selvidge said on a crisp winter evening in 2011 inside his downtown office near the tip of Union Avenue, a couple of blocks from the Mississippi River. “You make a choice that you’re an artist, and you’ve got to learn how to say ‘no.’ To not say ‘yes’ was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
But, he says, “I made a conscious decision that what I was doing was art.”
Though it applies to many turning points, Selvidge was speaking in particular of the late 1960s and early-1970s, a period in his nascent career when his initial albums had met with success. Doors opened, opportunities beckoned and Selvidge recalled the allure of major-label offers and all — indeed, all — that they might end up meaning for him.
“I could have been a disco artist,” he said. “I could have been Milli Vanilli.”
Could have been is a de rigueur phrase of the music business that most artists invoke now and then, frequently with a sigh of contempt. By contrast, Selvidge said it with a sort of dodged-the-bullet relief, an understated astonishment that he was able to raise a family while contentedly forging a solid career neither pockmarked by compromise nor defined by disappointment. Instead, he is gathering new fans on the Internet, still recording, still married, still welcoming new grandchildren into the world. In his later 60s, with so many compatriots felled by excesses or burned from the caprice and whimsies of a musical career, Sid Selvidge is a Memphis survivor, personifying what it is not only to sing truly, but to also be true to oneself in the process.
• • •
Though he had a guitar by his early teens and played it a bit with friends, Sid Selvidge’s creative impulses first revealed themselves chiefly on small-town, dawn-to-dusk radio — not as a performer but as a deejay. The station was WDDT-AM in Greenville, Mississippi, which fashioned its call letters from the famously bold Delta Democrat Times, its owner. In Greenville, says Selvidge, a native, “we thought of ourselves as being the most progressive town in the state of Mississippi, and even the South. I was a small, skinny kid in a town where the heroes were all football players.”
Yet on the air, Selvidge loomed large. After winning a contest to become a WDDT deejay, he was a station fixture, working every weekend, playing rock ‘n’ roll and jazz instead of the station’s standard songbook format as its owners worked to attract a younger audience. “It was there that I learned I had a voice,” he says. “I also learned how to breathe with my diaphragm, which translated directly into singing. I also became a bit of a celebrity in my small high school crowd.”
Like many Mississippi artists, white and African-American alike, Selvidge made an archetypical journey north to Memphis on Highway 61, albeit as part of a family move. This was in the early 1960s, and once in the city, Selvidge suggested, the burdens on a white, small-town Mississippi singer bent on understanding the music of his home region were unique. African-Americans newly arrived to Memphis found themselves mastering the various realities of segregated metropolitan life and learning how to use the city as a vibrant megaphone for their culture.
Selvidge recalled his early time in Memphis as period of consciousness-waking — a time when he began to understand how much in Southern music was defined by or appropriated from African-Americans. While having come of age in the heavily black Delta, what, he wondered, had he really known? “Getting up to Memphis,” he said, “was like pulling up the shades.”
Selvidge’s radio work continued at KWAM just across the river in the West Memphis, Ark., a station perched so precariously on the Mississippi’s flood plains that Selvidge recalled it being damned near unreachable during a storm or river cresting. The time at KWAM was significant for Selvidge in that it offered his career’s first true major pivot point, and showcased a decision-making pattern that would stick: Presented with an offer by a radio station in Clearwater, Fla. to begin his broadcasting career in earnest, Selvidge turned it down. He was learning a lot in Memphis, and simply desired to stay.
In part, this revelation owed itself to the era. Defined by race in so many ways, Memphis’ cultural collision was playing itself out most vibrantly beyond the margins of polite society—in places Selvidge recalled as those where “the acid was dropping and the marijuana was coming in.” Moving easily among an enlightened, progressive crowd peppered with other aspiring folkies, Selvidge—a student at then-Southwestern (now Rhodes) College—had no trouble taking cues from African-American artists several years their senior, and Selvidge found his in the bluesman Furry Lewis.
It was in locally storied, freewheeling Midtown Memphis venues such as the Bitter Lemon and Procapé Gardens where performers like Lewis (earlier recorded by folklorist Samuel Chartres while Lewis worked as a city sanitation worker) took center stage. Selvidge, proficient if not expert on guitar, found himself opening for Lewis and others over time, a framework of deference and respect to elder statesmen that would go on to span his career. Selvidge “was blown away” by Lewis, he recalled, remembering how the singer “became kind of a lynchpin for the hipster crowd coming along.”
Lewis’ lessons were about more than music. Through their friendship, Selvidge recalled how the Lewis “gently led a lot of us into black culture” and showed him “how to behave in mixed company. We were still quite paternalistic toward African-Americans we befriended,” Selvidge said; regarding Lewis as a superior inherently challenged such ingrained, passed-down habits.
It was in this time that Selvidge and his friends — people like soon-to-be seminal sonic architect Dickinson and the erstwhile, wide-grinning creator-at-large Jimmy Crosthwait — were groping about for their place within the Southern musical pantheon. “Dickinson, (Don) Nix, people like that were trying to learn how to be producers,” he said. Unlike many of his Memphis contemporaries, Selvidge maintained a quirky dual existence as a balladeer-academician, increasingly interested in music while seemingly tracking toward a career as a professor. Newly married to wife Shirley and having begun graduate anthropology studies at Washington University in St. Louis, he continued involvement in the Memphis folk scene, traveling to and from the city, blending blues and folk into his own soft yet penetrating voice and learning, too, that his voice would soon have wider appeal. “It was an interesting dynamic,” he says. “All I wanted was to make sure that my ass didn’t get drafted.”
“Portrait,” Selvidge’s debut album, was released in 1969 on Enterprise, an offshoot of the legendary Memphis soul label Stax Records. Produced by Nix, it yielded a charted song, “The Ballad of Otis B. Watson,” an anti-war tune that would profoundly color Selvidge’s relationship with commercial radio. Reacting to advertiser pressure, Selvidge recalled, stations were quick to take the popular song off of the air – an irony for a former deejay who had long enjoyed easy access to the airwaves.
With his graduate work just shy of a completed dissertation, Selvidge was offered a passport back to Memphis in the form of an anthropology teaching post at Rhodes. During a five-year run as Professor Selvidge, perhaps the full-time return to Memphis as a folksinger in academic garb cast a sharper relief on the impossibility of his dual existence. When Selvidge signed a deal with Elektra Records during this period, the divergent path it offered again suggested that a choice be made—and Selvidge elected to plunge into music wholeheartedly.
“The wisest decision I made was to quit Rhodes,” he said. “I was a better singer than I was a scientist. ”I said, ‘OK, this is it.’ When I burned those bridges, there was no turning back.”
There were times, however, where he might have wanted to do so — when being a solo artist indeed meant carrying the burdens of not only playing good music but serving as a promoter, a booking manager and, as it happened, the proprietor of a record label. The latter occurred when Selvidge found his third album, “The Cold of the Morning,” essentially dumped on his doorstep after a partner running the locally based independent Peabody Records — named after the city’s grandest hotel — suddenly decided to quit. Brusquely, it left Selvidge with an intimate acquaintance with the unstable nature, let alone 1,000 copies of his album.
Talent proved the record’s saving grace. “Cold of the Morning” a beautiful, spartan record that beat the typical sophomore-effort jinx, established Selvidge firmly as one of the city’s most eminent folk artists. The record, produced by Jim Dickinson, is “as spare as you can get,” Selvidge said. “I like spare music. Maybe that’s part of my personality, being a solitary guy except for my family.”
The album was received well enough to secure bookings for Selvidge in New York, whose Greenwich Village neighborhood served as the urban epicenter of the American folk-rock movement. The city received him warmly. “His voice is an astonishing instrument,” seminal New York Times music writer Robert Palmer wrote after hearing Selvidge at the popular Manhattan club Tramps, describing his voice as “cool and liquid with a range of several octaves.” Such notices, combined with approval from highly attentive audiences at Tramps and other New York listening rooms during the zenith of their culture-charting power, soon led to major-label interest, including from the Atlantic and Rolling Stone labels.
A glimpse of what might accompany such offers — the notion of a Memphis folk singer more or less cast into the concrete canyons of Manhattan and all that played out there — did not seem a good fit to Selvidge. Seeing the unseemly transformation undergone by some other artists, he feared success on a more commercial level would strip him of his roots. Instead, it was in Memphis where he would remain, playing music in a simple style, the way he always loved.
Combined with continued performing, Selvidge pushed forward with Peabody Records under his stewardship. The label embodied Memphis’ wildly anachronistic and eclectic streaks, issuing Alex Chilton’s “Like Flies on Sherbert” (a critic-splitting effort produced by Dickinson regarded alternately as a too-wild collage or a free-range masterpiece), a largely ignored album by Memphis native Cybill Shepherd (“People don’t like celebrity records,” Selvidge recalled) and, more notably, Selvidge’s own “Waiting for a Train.” All the while receiving enough push from positive reviews to stay active on the American folk circuit, Selvidge also lent himself to dabbling with Mudboy & The Neutrons, a raucous side project of a band comprised of Selvidge, Dickinson, Crosthwait and Lee Baker.
In 1993, Elektra/Nonesuch released Selvidge’s “Twice Told Tales” as part of its American Explorer Series. The occasion led to Selvidge performing at Carnegie Hall with his then-19-year-old son, Steve, a guitarist who has since gone on to his own music career, most recently as a member of the popular New York-based rock band The Hold Steady. Sid Selvidge remained especially proud of “Twice Told Tales,” less so for its international reach than for the fact that his appearance in the series served as an amplifier for the types of songs he kept alive through the years. (“Twice Told Tales” features two Furry Lewis tunes and one by another regional blues sensei, “Mississippi” Fred McDowell.)
While Selvidge summarized recent years as a period of “just playing, just scuffling,” the world has continued to take notice. Comments about his playing have remained thematically steady for decades, paralleling Selvidge’s expert musicianship and respect for the music he loves to sing. In 1993, New York Times reviewer Peter Watrous found a performance by Selvidge in the city to be a highly knowledgeable, extremely dexterous, cliché-free romp through a songbook of Southern treasures. “The whole performance offered an easy way into an American tradition,” Watrous wrote, “avoiding a path usually fraught with cultural misunderstanding.”
While staying true to his instincts over decades, radio found a way back into Selvidge’s life. In 1996, he worked to help found “Beale Street Caravan,” an internationally aired hour-long show filled with live recordings of energetic blues performances from the Memphis area and beyond. The highly original show (check www.bealestreetcaravan.com for air times) is a rarity in the often homogeneous radio landscape, amplifying artists who, like Selvidge, have chosen careers dedicated more to musical artistry than explicit commercialism. (In another instance of things coming full circle in Selvidge’s life, Cybill Shepherd hosted segments on women in blues in 2011.) Selvidge would continue to balance radio work and occasional touring for sixteen years. “You’ve got to do a little bit of everything, especially if you’re going to be in this town,” he said.
In recent years, Selvidge created three albums for Archer Records including “A Little Bit of Rain” (produced by Dickinson), a career-spanning live album and DVD, “Live at Otherlands” (a popular Midtown Memphis café) and 2010’s “I Should Be Blue.” The latter featured duets by New York-based singer/songwriter Amy Speace and a rhythm section anchored by the album’s producer, Don Dixon, highly regarded Memphis-based drummer Paul “Snowflake” Taylor, and guitar work by Steve Selvidge. There was more to come, and in 2011 Selvidge described his songwriting as “happier, funnier” than in the past. He viewed his younger work as more choked with “angst,” and said: “The older I get, the less I want to hear about it in a song.” Even as his guitar work has been praised throughout his career, Selvidge spent more time than ever practicing. “The last few years, I’ve been trying to learn new guitar parts,” he said.
Selvidge was initially diagnosed with cancer in 2010 while touring with Amy Speace to promote “I Should Be Blue.” He was treated and returned to complete the tour. The cancer returned and Selvidge fought the disease for two years. He recovered long enough to make one final recording and video in September 2012 for The 78 Project directed by Alex Steyermark. Singing in a baritone voice, which he likened to Mississippi John Hurt’s, Selvidge made his last recording with one microphone, direct-to-disc on a 1930’s Presto recorder with son Steve on guitar.