Acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith, country/rockabilly vocalist Rosie Flores, fleet-fingered young blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and bluegrass greats the Del McCoury Band are among the more than 300 acts slated for next week’s NEA Extravaganza ’99, which starts Feb. 11 at more than 25 venues all across Nashville. That means the clubs’ll be unseasonably packed and the laminate brigade will be out in full force.
At first glance, the most remarkable thing about the 14th annual edition of the city’s showcase for unsigned bands is the familiarity of the lineup. Indeed, if there’s any big upside to this year’s edition, it’s that you’ll have plenty of chances to catch deserving acts you missed last yearand there were plenty, even for those of us who logged all three nights. From the nimble pop of Fluid Ounces, Neilson Hubbard, and Joe, Marc’s Brother to buzz-laden singer-songwriters Lennon Murphy and Rebecca Stout, the three-day festival has (intentionally, from what we hear) rounded up the usual suspects. Any chance to see returning faves like Josh Rouse and Tom House shouldn’t be missed.
A quick scan through the lineup establishes the breadth of the festival: 12 Volt Negative Earth, All the Queen’s Men, Andy West, Astral Project, Audra & the Antidote, Big Kenny, Bigsby, Bill Lloyd, Bob Bradley & the Highbeams, Brother Henry, Chris Knight, Clive Gregson, Count Bass-D, Daniel Tashian, Danielle Howle & the Tantrums, David Olney, Drain the Lobster, Dreaming in English, the Ex-Husbands, Fair Verona, Glossary, Greta Gaines, Jerry & Tammy Sullivan, Joy Lynn White, Kristi Rose, Lifeboy, Mary Cutrufello, the Rayon City Quartet, Tommy Womack, Utopia State, Wes Cunningham, and Will Kimbrough. At this point, the schedule looks short on theme nights and visiting national acts, but times and artist rosters are still being firmed up.
An as-yet-confirmed lineup can be found on the NEA’s Web site (http://nashville.extravaganza.citysearch. com). Consult next week’s Scene for full Extravaganza previews and coverage.
Farewell to a Friend
Nashville musicians are mourning the loss of bassist Joe Compito, who died suddenly of a brain aneurysm Jan. 11 in his East Nashville home. Compito, 39, was a New York native who moved here in 1988 and became a busy session player, performing with Don Williams, Victoria Shaw, Wild About Harry, Malcolm Holcombe, Jess Leary, the Ryman’s production of Always...Patsy Cline, and numerous local bands and artists. He was also a gifted luthier, perhaps best known for building Victor Wooten’s custom-made five- and six-string basses.
Compito’s memorial service Jan. 24 at First Church Unity was understandably somber, but the more than 200 people on hand were buoyed by remembrances of his offbeat humor and personality. “Joe was the sweetest guy, and the kind of person that you never knew when he was going to be funny,” said Laurie Kelley, who helped organize the service. The funniest memories, Kelley said, came from tour manager Bob Locknar, who tickled the crowd with Compito imitations and road storiesespecially an escapade on Victoria Shaw’s European tour involving some water balloons.
Victor Wooten, who according to Kelley was the last person to see Compito alive, has composed a song in his friend’s memory. Meanwhile, in lieu of flowers, Compito’s family and friends have asked that donations be made to the W.O. Smith Community School of Music, P.O. Box 121348, Nashville, TN 37212-1348. For more information, call Laurie Kelley at 297-7935.
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion show Jan. 24 at 328 Performance Hall was a riot in itself, but the name on most folks’ lips after the show was Andre Williams, the JSBX’s astounding opening act. A veteran Chicago R&B singer best known for his 1957 hit “Bacon Fat”and for cowriting the frat-house evergreen “Shake a Tail Feather”the slender, snake-hipped Williams took the stage in a pinstripe suit and white hat that made him look like the original Mack Daddy. With an epic hoist of his bushy eyebrows and a leer worthy of Russ Meyer, he delivered a blast of old-school NC-17 raunch that left the Blues Explosion’s collegiate fans gaping.
Highlights included a revved-up “Tail Feather,” the outrageous “Pussy Stank” (“and so do mary-wannah!”), and the tender balladry of “Let Me Put It In.” Backed by tight L.A. sloprockers The Countdowns, Williams went from classic love-man crooning to thrash-metal moves Spencer himself must envy, and the insane finalewhich involved a near-naked associate pelting the audience with fruit while chasing Williams around the drum riserkept the crowd roaring long after the band left the stage.
Since then, lots of people have been asking where to find Andre Williams’ records. Haven’t seen any in local storesthere’s newsbut you can get several Williams LPs from Norton Records, including an early-hits compilation and the two albums he recorded recently. (That’s where you’ll find “Pussy Stank,” you sickos.) Try Norton at P.O. Box 646, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10003; or try the Norton Web page (http://members.aol.com/nortonrec/norton.html) for more information.
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