Just when you thought that trendy 12South neighborhood was in danger of getting too gentrified, along comes the Five Star General Store, a funky new catch-all emporium owned and operated by longtime Bloodsucker Records affiliate Joy Patterson. The store will feature vintage threads from the Patterson collection, along with knick-knacks of all shapes and sizes and a selection of local records.
Right now, her stock consists mainly of clothes, Patterson says, but she’s hoping to carry “handmade local stuff” of all kinds, from soaps to jewelry to food. Bound’ry chef Michael Cribb, a hot-pepper fanatic who even named his daughter Cayenne, has sent over some of his private stash of pepper jellies and condiments, and there’s a special shelf for chief Bloodsucker Mark Nevers’ solvent-strength hot sauce. “He tortures his band with it,” says Patterson, Nevers’ partner. “Your eyes start watering when you enter the house.”
As the store gets settled, she wants to hear from local artisans, although she admits she’s picky. She also hopes to expand the local-music section, which at the moment consists mainly of Bloodsucker artists like Nevers’ bands C.Y.O.D. and Marky & the Unexplained Stains. Musicians and craftspeople can contact Patterson at 386-0104.
In the meantime, some of the city’s coolest bands will be playing the store’s grand-opening party Saturday afternoon. Scheduled to perform are the Cherry Blossoms, C.Y.O.D., Paul Burch & the WPA Ballclub, Lambchop, David Cloud’s Gospel of Power, and “some form” of Laurel Parton’s group Trauma Team. The show starts at 2 p.m., and Nevers himself will be frying up hot chicken at $3 a plate, with veggie dishes for the meat-impaired. The Five Star General Store is open Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1118 Halcyon St., right off 12th Avenue South near Third Coast Clay.
Remember Randy Alexander? He was the deejay manning the booth at Thunder 94 one afternoon last year, when a surprise edict from Tuned-In Broadcasting shut down the city’s most promising commercial modern-rock station in mid-shift. Alexander’s defiant, emotional, and memorably profane response carried much farther than the station’s weak signal. After extolling the liberating properties of saying expletives on the air, he cued up Soundgarden’s “Jesus Christ Pose” and walked away from the radio business, leaving FM 100 to simulcast its usual nasal drip.
Unfortunately, Alexander hasn’t been able to find a job sinceand not because of his exit. “You have no idea how hard it is to get jobs in this town if you’re handicapped,” says the former deejay, who suffers from cerebral palsy. And not just media-related jobs: Alexander was turned down even for a part-time stint at a fast-food joint. “I just wanted something to pay the bills,” he says.
To raise awareness of other job-seekers facing the same challenges, Alexander is hosting his fourth-annual birthday-bash benefit Friday night at the Exit/In. On hand will be Fluid Ounces, perhaps the brightest band on Murfreesboro’s Spongebath pop label, along with Caesar’s Glass Box and Who Hit John. The ticket price is $8, and all proceeds will go to United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee.
“Working for 94, I was able to talk to people without them seeing me,” Alexander says. “Then when they saw me out somewhere, they’d be like, ‘Wow, he’s handicapped. It’s not that big a deal.’ ” The benefit, he says, is his way of spreading the same message: “If you’ve been afforded any kind of luxuries, you should spread ’em around.” Watch for surprise guests when the show kicks off Friday at 9 p.m.
Boston’s Neptune plays the kind of angular skronk-rock that fell out of favor when bands started copying Nirvana and Tortoise instead of Sonic Youth and The Fall. On the band’s three-song tape, bits of flying sonic debris orbit around guitarist/sculptor Jason Sanford’s vocals, which veer from droning mumbles to melodramatic screaming in the space of a song. The coolest part is the band’s gallery of homemade scrap-metal instruments, which weigh as much as 50 pounds apiece. Welded from prosaic materialsa kid’s bicycle wheel, a circular sawbladethe modern-primitive instruments call to mind the torturous gynecological whatsits Jeremy Irons devised in Dead Ringers, but they’re capable of otherworldly sounds somewhere between a whale’s song and a cello. Indie rock finally has its own Harry Partch.
The quartet will be represented on an upcoming “Boston Underbelly” compilation along with Mission of Burma’s Roger Miller and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore; catch Neptune when it plays its first Nashville show Saturday at The Bazaar on Fourth Ave. S., just down from 328 Performance Hall.
DeFord Bailey, not Charley Pride, was the first black star in the history of country music. Forty years before Pride released his first single, Bailey was a featured performer on WSM’s Saturday-night barn dance, the radio program that, in 1927, became the Grand Ole Opry. In his 16 seasons with show, Bailey emerged as one of the Opry’s most popular stars. In 1928, for example, he appeared on 49 broadcastsat least twice as many as any of the show’s other regulars. Best known for “Pan American Blues,” his song depicting an L&N passenger train, Bailey remained an Opry favorite until 1941, when WSM station manager George Hay fired him under questionable circumstances. Bitter and disillusioned, Bailey retired from performing, leaving behind a meager recorded legacy11 commercial sides released by the Brunswick and Victor labels in 1927 and 1928.
When Bailey was in his mid-’70s, though, he permitted David Morton, then a local public-housing official, to record him at home playing a mix of familiar and obscure material. With the cooperation of Bailey’s family, the Tennessee Folklore Society released 26 of those sides last week. The CD, titled The Legendary DeFord Bailey: Country Music’s First Black Superstar, puts the Smith County native’s artistry in a much broader light. Although it includes many of Bailey’s best-known harmonica workouts, including “Pan American Blues,” “Ain’t Gonna Rain No More,” “Old Hen Cackle,” and “Hesitation Blues,” even more significant are the recordings that feature Bailey on banjo, vocals, and guitar. Dating from 1974 to 1976, these tracks not only confirm rumors that Bailey did more than play harmonica; they also reveal that he was an affecting blues singer and a unique banjo stylist. According to coproducer and noted scholar Charles Wolfe, Bailey’s banjo playing on “Lost John” “reaches into the very taproots of African-American folk music.”
Copies of the CD$15.00 each, postpaidare available through the Tennessee Folklore Society, MTSU Box 201, Murfreesboro, TN 37132.
The members of Porcelain want to thank the Nashville Entertainment Association for rejecting the band’s submission to play the annual Extravaganza festival. As singer Val Strain explains, if the modern-rock band had been given a performance slot, she probably wouldn’t have been out watching one of her favorite bands play an Extravaganza showcase at Exit/In.
“I decided at the last minute to go out and support a friend who had a show,” she says. “I was feeling real introspective and quiet, so I was hanging out by myself. This guy came up to me and started talking, then he introduced me to his friend. Turned out that the guy was an A&R executive from a major record company.”
As they talked, the executive expressed interest in Strain’s music. Eventually, Strain met other executives from the same company, including the head of the company’s A&R department. The following day, she dropped off three Porcelain tapes at a hotel for each of the execs. Less than a week later, she got a call from New York.
“They told me they really liked the material,” she says. Strain explained to them that the tape was a year old, and that the band was preparing to record a dozen or so more new songs. But the record company didn’t want to wait for the new recordings; they wanted to see the band live as soon as possible.
Strain went to work with little time to spare: The band’s drummer was undergoing back surgery in six days. Within four days, 12th & Porter had agreed to set up a last-minute showcase. Then, on the night of the March show, an unexpected snow storm hit. The A&R executives’ arrival was delayed, but they did make it, arriving at the club five minutes before showtime.
According to Strain, the company remains intensely interested, and negotiations are ongoing. Several other labels have also indicated interest in the group. In the meantime, Strain has been writing furiously, so that if and when a deal should come through, the band has a lot of material to work with.
“It’s kind of wild,” she says. “This all happened because of the NEA and the Extravaganza.... It might sound strange to say that we want to thank the NEA for blowing us off, but it’s the reason good things are happening for us.”
Porcelain performs Wednesday, May 20, at 12th & Porter.
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*Alexandra Grace, not Alexadra Grace