Monday, August 31, 2009

Memphis Weekend in Review ~ August 28 to 30


Friday / August 28 / South Main Trolley Tour / South Main Arts District

South Main Trolley Tour is a bustling monthly event we always look forward to as a family, and for the past two years, we have invited out of town guests to plan a visit for the last Friday of the month to catch the local event. No one had accepted until my cousin Somaly and her husband Scott drove up from Alabama especially to see us and get a taste of locals’ Memphis mixed in with some cool tourists’ spots that even locals should see once in their life.

1} After nibbling on free food at various shops and galleries as our “appetizer,” we headed back to the patio of Harry’s Detour where we saw local band Star and Micey set up in the patio lawn. It was a pleasant surprise.
2} Somaly and Scott had to pose for at least one photo together. Here they are under the patio lights at Harry’s.


We Recommend The lemon chicken with three cheeses including a feta cheese that stood out the best compliment to the lemon sauce.




3} Runway Boutique is one of my favorites Memphis stores and I always fall in love with great pieces like the embellished short coat shown above.


Related Links South Main Arts District / Star and Micey / Runway Boutique

Photo of band and coat by Scott and Somaly.
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Saturday / August 29 / Memphis Music History Tours / Sun Studios and Backbeat Tours

The number one question asked by tourists visiting Christopher’s hot dog cart is “What are don’t-miss events and places in Memphis?” High on our list are Backbeat Tours and Sun Studios both of which have local musicians guide the music tours.


Since kids under five are not allowed inside the studio for tours and they didn’t want to turn away paying customers in the group, they offered parents free tickets if one parent stayed behind.


Atticus and I stayed behind and were offered free drinks and snacks which was only the second treat after hearing one of the Rock for Love musicians and Sun Studio tour guide Jason Freeman pluck away at the resident guitar. Before long, Atticus wandered over to me and closer to his favorite instrument.

Atticus’ intent gaze during this impromptu performance then my explanation of his love of music and his “playing” his own guitar at home led into Jason performing “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider” just for Atticus. Atticus sang along all the way through then requested “ABC’s” his all-time favorite. I was impressed with Jason for not hesitating and playing the best rendition of “ABC’s” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” I’ve ever heard. Thanks Jason. It was really a treat for Atticus.

We were also back at Sun Studios later that afternoon as part of the Backbeat Tours Memphis Mojo Tour. I have raved about this tour since taking it two years ago but I didn’t realize what I was really raving about was tour guide Memphis Jones. I promise not to ever waste any space on my blog for a negative comment so I will put it this way. If you take the Mojo tour, you have to take it with Memphis Jones.

Related Links Sun Studios / Backbeat Tours
Photos of Sun Studios and Backbeat Tour by Scott/Somaly.
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Sunday / August 30 / Sunday Brunch / The Majestic Grille

It was excellent weather for eating out on the patio to try the brunch menu at the fairly new Majestic Grille. Since Christopher works part-time waiting tables there, we also took advantage of his employee discount. Atticus was sold on the idea when he saw that the patio was located right next to the Main Street trolley line.


1} The blue neon sign to the Majestic entrance.
3} Atticus turns his head to see his favorite trolley, the purple one ride away.





The biscuits didn’t last and the shrimp and grits dish was the perfect combination of breakfast and lunch.







Atticus always finds a creative way to past the time. Here he is showing us his “bridge over the river.” Quite inspiring I must say. See more photos on my Facebook page.

Related Links The Majestic Grille
All photos by Sophorn unless noted otherwise.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

SHOP Chicago Favorites

We tried to squeeze in a little time for shopping, and most of that time I was not snapping pictures but actually intent on shopping. We mainly focused on the Wicker Park /Bucktown area.



Threadless Kids /Well-designed graphic and humorous tees for babies and kids / 1905 W. Division St.
Some of Atticus' favorite shirts given to him by his Aunt Somaly are from their online store. We thought it would be fun to stop in to see the interior graphics. They also sold great graphic wall decals that was part of the store decor.





When we arrived, Christopher and Atticus headed straight for the lounge/play area in the back while I browsed the racks of tees. I guess they know me too well. Atticus moved the entire crayon supply from one bin to the other.

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grow / Baby and toddler gear, clothing, and home furnishings / 1943 W. Division St.
Since seeing this store in the design*sponge Chicago Design Guide, I planned on visiting it early on. The wood-cladded storefront set the store apart from the neighboring brick storefronts. See below for more favorite finds from grow.



I love how this table and chair set is designed to save space. You will also notice that a compartmentalized tray slides in and out just underneath the tabletop.



The modern rocker and girl's shirt dress were my other favorites from grow. The cushion on the rocker snaps off for cleaning. If they made an adult version of that dress, I would wear it.


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symmetry / furniture and home decor / 1925 W. Division St.
We didn't actually go inside this store since we were passing by in a hurry to eat, but I do regret not taking a peek.

***



Prairie Avenue Books / Largest Architectural and Design Bookstore in the World / 418 S. Wabash

We spent a rainy afternoon here and was able to get away without buying anything. I just know I have a very long wishlist.

Others Worth Mentioning
Renegade Handmade / Handmade gifts / 1924 W. Division
hejfina / Women's high end clothing and gifts / 1529 N. Milwaukee
Salvage one / Vintage modern furniture and home decor / 1840 W. Hubbard
Douglas Rosin / Decorative Arts and Antiques / 730 N. Wells

Related Posts Architects Guide to Chicago / SEE Chicago Favorites / EAT Chicago Favorites
All photos by Sophorn McRae.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

EAT Chicago Favorites

Chicago was not short of great local restaurants and food vendors. We must say that the food was our favorite part of the trip. Below are some of our favorites.


Cafe des Architectes Contemporary French Cuisine / Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, 20 E. Chestnut St
The interior design and ambiance was an exquisite match to the cuisine. The restaurant offered some unique combinations of flavors while still offering a great mac-n-cheese and fruit dish for Atticus to enjoy.

Frontera Grill Authentic Mexican / 445 North Clark Street
This highly recommended and local favorite was one of the first restaurants we tried in Chicago and every restaurant afterwards paled in comparison. It was obvious we were eating the cuisine of a top chef. Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill served up the best beans I could ever imagine. I truly can't stop thinking about it. Photos above show Christopher and Atticus eating the spicy guacamole, Chef Rick Bayless on right, and tacos al carbon dish similar to what we enjoyed.

Photo from Los Dos and flickr page Bianca.


Uno's Pizzeria / 29 East Ohio
We chose only one place to try a Chicago deep dish pizza and the best place that was recommended by locals was Uno's which now has several franchises all over the country.


Hot Chocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar / 1747 N. Damen Ave.
We stopped in for a quick sweet snack and really had trouble deciding what to get without spending a bundle. We wanted to try everything in the dessert bar. We just hate we missed out their regular menu.



Cafecito Cuban Restaurant and Coffee Bar / 26 E. Congress Parkway
We were wanting a quick dinner option after leaving Prairie Avenue Bookstore so we asked the cashier at the bookstore for a recommendation. She suggested Cafecito as her favorite which was right around the corner. Cafecito was also voted the best place for a cuban sandwich which we of course ordered and devoured.

Chicago Food Vendor Chicago Style Hot Dog / Shedd Aquarium grounds
The toppings ~ pickle, tomato, onions, mustard, and celery salt. Delicious combination.


Others W
orth Mentioning
Yolk Brunch and Sandwiches / 747 N. Wells
Rosebud Italian / 720 N. Rush
Photos by Sophorn unless noted otherwise.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Make Something Cool Everyday ~ Brock Davis Portfolio

Graphic artist/illustrator Brock Davis makes something cool everyday which creates a challenge that forces experimentation. It becomes part of a greater learning process to greatly improve yourself as a designer. Here are some select pieces from his portfolio where you can appreciate the humor and creativity so much more with the captions.

Overly Underwhelmed


Kermit the Frog about to walk across hot coals



Papa Smurf gets angry, turns into the Hulk


Bumper Stickers for Shoes


Stubble self portrait (drawn with toothpick)

Photo from Brock Davis Portfolio via Behance.

Personal Must-Have : The Lubitel 166+ TLR Camera

I want this camera! I've actually got some photography projects/gigs coming up that I would love to have this for. It is plastic and $350 but the accessories such as the 35mm bracket that uses the entire film like in the second photo below guarantees some unique shots.







Visit Lomography to order and see more photo samples.
Photos from Lomography.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Memphis Weekend in Review ~ August 20 to 22


Thursday / August 20 / Rock for Love 3 BBQ / Ardent Studios

Although I love bbq, I was more excited that I would get a chance to venture inside the legendary Ardent Studios where Jack White just recently recorded his latest record with new power band The Dead Weather. What a perfect place to have an intimate concert for people who undoubtedly love music. The sound was great, and we enjoyed the sounds of Jazz saxophonist Alan Clayton and band then one of my favorite new bands Star and Micey who also recorded at Ardent.

Related Links Ardent Studios / Alan Clayton / Star and Micey
See more photos on my Facebook page.

Friday / August 21 / Paper and Wood Exhibit / Beverly and Sam Ross Gallery, CBU Library

Husband and wife Elmore Holmes and Martha Kelly kicked off their gallery showing of her landscape art on paper and his hand crafted furniture in wood. What drew me was the woodworking and furniture design and only in person could I understand the beauty of the time and effort of Holmes’ traditional hand carved pieces. The exhibit ends October 1.

Related Links Beverly and Sam Ross Gallery / Elmore Holmes ~ Lower Mississippi Woodworks


Saturday / August 22 / Adapt-a-Door Auction Reception / Memphis Heritage Howard Hall


The first ever Adapt-a-Door auction fundraiser for Memphis Heritage and AIA Memphis was a huge success. Howard Hall was overflowing with eager bidders. It’s amazing that a door that you could see in a dumpster becomes, with ingenuity and hard work, a piece of artwork that can garner $400 to $500.
*Congratulations to TRO for their entry “Stack” lamp {shown in photo} for winning best in show, voted by all attendees.
*2nd Place Winner} Elvis Mosaic by Connie Wakeman, Glori Shettles & Lila Sue Roberts
*3rd Place Winner} King Size Headboard & Footboard by Leslie Shankman-Cohn & Jill Hetz.

Honestly, I was so heartbroken that we didn’t get to finish our piece because of shop facility complications that I considered skipping out. I hate to admit I decided to go because my entry fee included free tickets but I was there to support my fellow designers and learn for next year.

Related Links Memphis Heritage / AIA Memphis / TRO Stack Blog
If you are interested in seeing the design we wanted to enter as MODOhome, click here.


Saturday / August 22 / Rock for Love 3 ~ Night #2 / Hi-Tone Café

What a bargain! 5 great bands for $10 and it goes to a great cause. With the silent auction, merchandise sale, and ticket sales, the Rock for Love coordinators should be proud. Oh and yes, I can scratch off “see a show at the Hi-Tone” from my “Why Haven’t I Done This Yet” list.

Related Links Makeshift Music Buy the Makeshift 5 CD to benefit the CHC / Church Health Center


Who We Saw River City Tanlines / Two Way Radio / The Magic Kids /
Jeffrey James and The Haul / Jason Freeman

Photos from artists' websites unless noted otherwise.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Memphis Music Spotlight {Marvin Stockwell} Changing the World Through Music


I'd like to welcome our third and final guest for the Rock for Love Q&A series, Marvin Stockwell, a performer in the benefit with the band Pezz and more importantly the co-creator and coordinator of the Rock for Love concert from the beginning.

Every band on the bill this year is a big part of what’s great about the current Memphis music scene. If anyone wants a crash course in great Memphis music, they need to show up this weekend.
~Marvin Stockwell on the Rock For Love line-up

Tell us about your initial and present involvement with the Church Health Center.
I joined the staff of the Church Health Center in October of 2004. I am the PR Manager for the Center, which means I work with the media, write and edit everything from press releases to copy for brochures, our website and our quarterly newsletter.

I have read that you, Marvin, wanted to give back to the CHC for the care they gave you and many others. What exactly pushed your idea into reality? Was there anything that made you think you had to do this like it was sort of meant to be?
I feel blessed to work here, first off. To be able to use my skills as a communicator to help further the mission and work of the CHC, a place that helps so many people lead healthier more joy-filled lives, is great.

I’ve played in Pezz for almost 20 years and the thing that drew me to the whole DIY punk and hardcore music scene was that it was powerful, energy-filled music that had a message. The core messages are personal responsibility, doing it yourself as well as learning to work with others to achieve a common goal, and changing the world for the better. Not all punk/hc is about that, but those are the bands that spoke to me and drew me to embrace the subculture. As much as punk/hc views religion as part of the establishment and rightly so (and I say that as a Catholic who takes his family to mass every Sunday), the punk ethos is countercultural and so is Jesus. To me, I see no division in the two; they work in concert. Religion often divides people but I am proud to say I work at a place that concentrates on the common denominator or serving others. Our diversity of support is what has enabled the Church Health Center to become the largest faith-based clinic of its type in the country serving uninsured working people and their families. In a music town like Memphis, lots of musicians are without health insurance.

Rock for Love has become an annual gathering where the music and creative scene gives back to a place that has helped many of them. That’s a pretty good feeling to see that take shape and grow like it has. I should point out that my friend J.D. Reager kicked this thing off by asking if I’d ever thought of doing a benefit show. I said I had mulled the idea. He’s the one who said, “Let’s do it.” Right out of the box, first year, with no experience doing sponsorships, we raised about $7,500 for the Center. Last year it was just shy of $23,000 and we are gunning for $25,000 this year. We were pleasantly surprised that monetary sponsorships kept pace with last year, despite the recession, so now all we need is for everyone reading this to come to the Hi Tone and Shangri-La and have a good time to put us over the top. We’ll need an especially packed Hi Tone to get there, but we’ve got a great lineup.

How easy or difficult was it to get people on board in the initial year: musicians, sponsors, volunteers, attendees?
Not difficult. People really responded generously. The Church Health Center is naturally in touch with the faith community, medical community and health-and-wellness community because of our mission and work, but this show has allowed us to approach the music and creative scene and ask for support that is in the context of what they do. We certainly can’t take all the credit for this success. It has succeeded because Memphis is a great city filled with talented people who care and are generous with their time.

As the benefit is growing in recognition, is the event coordination getting any easier in any way or is it trying to work harder to stay ahead of last year?
I won’t lie to you; it’s a lot of work, and we don’t know how to do anything less than swing for the fences. We’re always trying to blow it up bigger than before. Having my buddy Jeff Hulett on board last year was a real boost to J.D. and me and, as Jeff has grown in confidence in his job as my counterpart here in the CHC PR/Marketing office, he’s been even more effective this year. It also helps that we’ve had a great partner in the Hi Tone and, this year, in Shangri-La. The money raised is important, vitally important, but I’m just as proud of the fact that we have all hands on the pile so to speak. This is a feather in the cap of the entire music and creative scene. Our business community has also had a strong showing and not just music-related business like Elvis Presley Enterprises, who came on as co-presenting sponsors with SunTrust and Makeshift Music this year. How huge is it that SunTrust came on board again this year after all the banking sector has gone through? We appreciate them. The Center City Commission, Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, B.B. Kings - the list goes on and on.

Was the Hi-Tone a key component to the success of the event? I hate to admit I haven’t seen a show there yet but would love to go just because everyone says it’s a great venue but I’m afraid that might be misstated. From your perspective, could it be the Hi-Tone's reputation as a great venue is gained from such great musicians consistently performing there?
Jonathan and Dan at the Hi Tone have been true partners in this, and Jonathan has gone out of his way this year to make the show special. They’ll have a beer garden out back this year. He cooked up this thing with the Redbirds to have a storyteller there at AutoZone Park to raise even more money for us and get the Rock for Love 3 info up on the Jumbo-tron. The show was at a now-defunct venue the first year but has been at the Hi Tone last year and this year.

The Hi Tone is a great club. It is THE venue to play in town for its size. They treat people right, and once you establish that you’re a great venue that treats people fairly, word spreads.

So you have the perfect mix of a great venue and great local music {smart groundwork for a benefit concert}, how much of your benefit audience would you guess is actually there just for the music?
No idea. I’d like to think that it’s a mix of motivation. We worked very hard to get a must-see line-up that is diverse and draws different crowds of music lovers who are into different varieties of music. We’ll have everything from singer-songwriters to the lighter side of indie rock to garage rock to punk rock. Whatever your volume preference, we’ve got you covered. People come to see a show and I think what puts us over the top is that people also love the Church Health Center.

Is the audience for an event like this any different than from your regular gigs?
If so, how?

Sure. A lot of the same people come to both, but benefit shows also get people who don’t normally come to shows or who rarely come to shows to come out of the woodwork.

About Pezz
Pezz formed in Memphis in 1989 as a punk rock band and since has released 10 albums and toured all over the US and Europe. Pezz draws inspiration from the likes of Husker Du, Social Distortion, Articles of Faith, Leatherface, Crimpshrine, Jawbreaker, Fugazi, Marginal Man, Superchunk, Naked Raygun and of course, the Bad Brains. Band members include Marvin Stockwell, Ceylon Mooney, Christian Walker, and Anthony Siracusa. Currently, Anthony is traveling across Europe via bike as part of his Watson Fellowship year. His blog about his year-long four-continent trip studying how people use bicycles is
here. Our good friend Shawn Apple {Evil Wizard Eyes, Bury the Living} is filling in on guitar. Shawn is a great guitar player, so he’s learned a lot very quickly and we sound really solid with him in the lineup.

Tell us a little about what the fans can expect from your performance at the benefit.
We bring everything we’ve got every time we’re out. You can hear samples and see our video here
.

What does it mean to you to be a musician in Memphis? Does being in Memphis have any effect on your music?
Oh, I could write a short novel. I am proud to be a musician in Memphis. I DO think there is something very special about our city: its musical past and its musical present; lots of great music happening here - almost too much to fully appreciate. I am proud to be a member of this music scene.

As a musician, what are your “Memphis Insider Raves”?
Hmmmm. If you mean great local bands that go un-noticed, our friends While I Breathe I Hope are great. Karma Elektra; I’m a huge fan of the Compulsive Gamblers who just played a reunion show. I’m a huge fan of the Simpletones and am glad they are playing RFL 3. Every band on the bill this year is a big part of what’s great about the current Memphis music scene. If anyone wants a crash course in great Memphis music, they need to show up this weekend.

The CHC and the Rock for Love benefit are 2 things I am sure many will say make them proud of Memphis. What are other things you would say Memphis can be proud of?

*Rock and roll was born here.
*The self-service grocery store {Piggly Wiggly} started here.
*Overnight shipping {FedEx} started here.
*Holiday Inn; so much good came from here and so many great initiatives are going on now in Memphis such as Smart City, Revolutions Community Bicycle Shop, MPACT Memphis, the Greenline rails to trails project, Shelby Farms, the Farmer’s Market, and
Rock-n-Romp. There’s too much great stuff in Memphis for one person to do.

What fans can expect.
“We have a concert film in the works that will screen at Studio on the Square and be available on DVD shooting for around Christmas time. Live from Memphis and Rocket Science Audio have been there every year working their asses off to capture great live Memphis music for posterity. There may be an audio component of this as well. Maybe we’ll run the table and put it out on vinyl. Who knows?”

~Marvin Stockwell

A compilation cd entitled "Makeshift #5" featuring performers from the first Rock for Love concert is available here.

Thanks Marvin!

Make sure to come out to the show. Buy tickets at Hi-Tone or Shangri-La Records.
Also make sure to look for Pezz's newest release “When Giants Walked the Earth” split LP with While I Breathe I Hope on Makeshift Music. The album cover below is not the latest but my favorite. It’s so cute, which I’m sure is the worst description for a punk/hardcore album. Sorry Marvin.


Related Links Pezz / Marvin’s Blog
Related Posts JD Reager / Jeff Hulett / Church Health Center Documentary + RFL Info and Line-up

Photos from Marvin Stockwell. Banner graphic design by Sophorn.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Memphis Music Spotlight {Jeff Hulett} for the Love of the Church Health Center and the Love of Rock 'n' Roll


Today, I'd like to welcome Jeff Hulett, coordinator for the Rock for Love benefit concert and musician also performing in the benefit in two bands. He answers the same questions as yesterday's guest J.D. Reager, sharing his involvement in the benefit and his thoughts on Memphis.

We are a big small town always getting looked over and underappreciated. It sucks, but I don’t mind it because I feel like I know something other people don’t.
~Jeff Hulett on Memphis

Tell us about your initial and present involvement with the Church Health Center.
My band Snowglobe played the first Rock for Love in 2007 and I learned a lot about the Center, but it wasn’t until later that year I was hired on as an intern. Since then I’ve been hired on as Public Relations and Communications Coordinator. This event is great because it ties together two things I love, raising awareness about the CHC and rock and roll.


How easy or difficult was it to get people on board in the initial year: musicians, sponsors, volunteers, attendees?
Just being a performer in year one I’ll tell you that we were more than thrilled to help out. We knew JD and Marvin and all they had to do was ask.

As the benefit is growing in recognition, is the event coordination getting any easier in any way or is it trying to work harder to stay ahead of last year?
It’s getting a little bit easier because more and more people are learning about the Center as the concert moves on up in years. We’ve got more sponsors than ever before and people are seeing flyers and bulletins via Facebook and MySpace and contacting us about how they can help. We are saturating the internet with messages about the event and painting the town red with physical flyers. And not to mention all of the media support i.e. the flyer, CA, Memphis Daily News, 730 FOX Sports, WEVL, etc. There’s much more to do than ever before, but that’s a good thing.

Was the Hi-Tone a key component to the success of the event? I hate to admit I haven’t seen a show there yet but would love to go just because everyone says it’s a great venue but I’m afraid that might be misstated. From your perspective, could it be the Hi-Tone's reputation as a great venue is gained from such great musicians consistently performing there?
This will be the second year in a row for the Hi-Tone and Jonathan and all of the staff there are amazing. It’s a great venue with great sound and ambience. They have a killer local lineup of shows as well as tons of touring acts that are awesome. They do so much extra including having a beer garden in the back this year and doing other awareness raising events for Rock for Love. They are a key ingredient and everyone loves going out to the Hi-Tone.

So you have the perfect mix of a great venue and great local music {smart groundwork for a benefit concert}, how much of your benefit audience would you guess is actually there just for the music?
I would say most people are there for the music, but a lot of people are there to just support the work of the Church Health Center. Last year there were several different pops throughout the nights. The bill is so diverse that there’s something for everyone.

Is the audience for an event like this any different than from your regular gigs?
If so, how?

Maybe a little bit- they know it’s a great cause so perhaps everyone is on their best behavior. No one wants to be the jerk that caused problems at Rock for Love.

{You & Memphis}
Tell us about your band and its music.
I play drums in Snowglobe and occasionally write some songs- our music is best described as pop psychedelic rock n roll. I also sing and play acoustic guitar in Jeffrey James and the Haul- our music is more rootsy, country rock. But it’s all rock n roll too.

Tell us a little about what the fans can expect from your performance at the benefit.
We got a few things up our sleeve.

What does it mean to you to be a musician in Memphis? Does being in Memphis have any effect on your music? It’s an amazing feeling to play music in Memphis and yes it affects my music in many ways. We are a big small town always getting looked over and underappreciated. It sucks, but I don’t mind it because I feel like I know something other people don’t.

The CHC and the Rock for Love benefit are 2 things I am sure many will say make them proud of Memphis. What are other things you would say Memphis can be proud of?
The U of M Tigers, WEVL, Overton park, Shelby Farms, the green line, Stax, sun, our history, MLK, the civil rights museum, live from Memphis, m-town bbq, cooper young fest, the list really goes on and on. I love this town.

Thanks Jeff!
Fans can expect a Rock for Love concert film set to be available around Christmas. Click here to find out more. Make sure to buy the latest albums “Ride the Wind Carnival” and “No Need to Light a Night on a Night Like Tonight” shown below.



Photos from band's website. Banner graphic design by Sophorn.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Memphis Music Spotlight : J.D. Reager Rocks {for Love}

In anticipation of the Rock for Love benefit concert this weekend, I am grateful to have some key people to the event answer questions about organizing the benefit and about their views of Memphis. Today, co-creator of Rock for Love and multi-talented musician, J.D. Reager, shares his thoughts below.

Memphis is a city of immense struggle and unrealized potential, which makes it fascinating to me. You could not pay me to live anywhere else.
~ J.D. Reager

Tell us about your initial and present involvement with the Church Health Center.
Initially, I became aware of the Church Health Center when my good friend and former bandmate Marvin Stockwell took a job there in the PR department, really, at the time he was the PR department. Anyway, through the course of talking about his work there, we got to talking about what a shame it was that nobody was doing a "rock show" type benefit for the CHC. And so, after much gnashing of teeth over what we would actually call it, we decided to stage year 1 of Rock for Love, not really thinking that it would take off and become the institution it has. I'm not afraid to say that my wife Jenn and I received our health coverage through the CHC's Memphis Plan for a few years, until we could afford proper health insurance, and that it more or less saved our asses. Also, Jenn currently works for the CHC in development (fundraising).

I have read that Marvin Stockwell wanted to give back to the CHC for the care they gave him and many others. What exactly pushed the idea into reality? Was there anything that made you think you had to do this like it was sort of meant to be?
Long story short - it was just such a good idea, that we couldn't talk ourselves out of it.

How easy or difficult was it to get people on board in the initial year: musicians, sponsors, volunteers, attendees?
It actually wasn't that hard - in year 1 we just did one show, and on a much smaller scale, but still ended up having nearly 300 people show up and raising about $7 grand for the CHC. Basically, year 1 was so wildly and unexpectedly successful, that we figured we should make it an annual event.

As the benefit is growing in recognition, is the event coordination getting any easier in any way or is it trying to work harder to stay ahead of last year?
By year two, Jeff {Hulett} started working with Marv, so we had an extra man on the team, which really helped us as the show grew. I tease Jeff sometimes about being the "new guy" in the mix, but really - he's been as effective at getting results as Marv or I, if not more so. But, that said, we're now coordinating schedules with twice as many bands, multiple venues, and all sorts of added features (silent auction, VIP reception for sponsors/media, etc.) which makes for somewhat of a logistical fiasco. But we get it done.

Was the Hi-Tone a key component to the success of the event? I hate to admit I haven’t seen a show there yet but would love to go just because everyone says it’s a great venue but I’m afraid that might be misstated. From your perspective, could it be the Hi-Tone's reputation as a great venue is gained from such great musicians consistently performing there?
Well, ya know - the Hi-Tone is a great place to see shows, and from a musician's perspective, an even better place to play. The sound is great; everyone there treats you with respect. Also, the pizza is hands down the best in Memphis.

So you have the perfect mix of great venue and great local music {smart groundwork for a benefit concert}, how much of your benefit audience would you guess is actually there just for the music?
I mean, probably most of the folks are there because of the bands/music. If we were just hosting a cocktail mixer at the Hi-Tone with no bands, I'd wager we wouldn't do as well.

Is the audience for an event like this any different than from your regular gigs? If so, how?
There will certainly be some folks there who come because of the Church Health Center, or because they saw us on TV or heard us on the radio and liked the idea of going to a show. One of the benefits for bands to be involved is an opportunity to get your music in front of folks who maybe wouldn't have seen you otherwise.

{You & Memphis }
Tell us about your band and its music.
I play in two bands participating in the show. Two Way Radio is "orchestral indie pop," or so I'm told. My band, J.D. Reager & the Cold Blooded Three, is more of a straight-up rock band. But, it's all pop music.

Tell us a little about what the fans can expect from your performance at the benefit.
We'll definitely leave everything we have on the stage. I'm not a "just stand there" guy. We play like we mean it.

What does it mean to you to be a musician in Memphis? Does being in Memphis have any effect on your music?
Oh, absolutely. Rock, soul, twang, guts, grime. It's just in the water here. It's impossible to live here as a musician and not become a part of it.

As a musician, what are your “Memphis Insider Raves”?
Hmmm-- well, most of my favorite local bands are actually playing Rock for Love this year. The Bulletproof Vests - pure, gutsy, rootsy rock music with guns blazing guitar licks. Snowglobe has always been one of my favorites. And, the Simpletones may be the most woefully underappreciated band in Memphis' history. I don't know if that can be overstated. Non-musically speaking, the restaurant Umai is tremendous.

The CHC and the Rock for Love benefit are 2 things I am sure many will say make them proud of Memphis. What are other things you would say Memphis can be proud of?
Memphis can and should be proud of lots of things- great music and arts, strong culinary scene, cool/unique/weird atmosphere and vibes, and history, history, history - not all of which is "good," per se, but adds a certain character. Memphis is a city of immense struggle and unrealized potential, which makes it fascinating to me. You could not pay me to live anywhere else.

I was just curious after organizing a benefit for my parent’s mission work in Cambodia: Was there ever an issue from anyone about not participating or supporting the fundraiser because it was affiliated with the Church?
Yeah- there's a certain popular, syndicated FM radio duo that refuses to have us on to promote the show. I'm not a religious person, but even I can see what dicks those guys are. Feel free to print this.


Thanks J.D.! J.D. also helps manage the Memphis record label Makeshift Music. You can buy his latest album The Repechage on itunes or at Shangri-La Records Memphis.





Related Links Makeshift Music / J.D. Reager & the Cold-blooded Three / Two Way Radio

Photos from band's website. Banner graphic design by Sophorn.

SEE Chicago Favorites

In June, we gathered a list of Chicago must-sees collected from architects and designers who have been or live in the Chicago area before our trip up there later that month. Since there were so many places to SEE, EAT, SHOP, PLAY, and RELAX in our 4-day stay, we made sure to focus on the most raved about places. Today’s posting will feature the things to SEE in Chi-town. Tune in later this week for the other categories of favorites.

For now, this is a photo essay on our favorites as I find more time to fill in the labels and notes later.






































Please see the previous city guide posting here.
All photos and graphic design by Sophorn McRae.
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