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My schedule has been hectic. I had 5 shows in 8 days and that put me behind. I'm back in school and that takes all my time. For homework in Jazz choir we are required to listen to Jazz or Contemporary Acapella Vocals. (I'm not complaining.) And so when I got a chance to watch "Memphis" on PBS I was doing my homework. And working on Protest Tuesday at the same time. (It's the only way I get anything done anymore.)

"Memphis" is a Broadway musical. It won the Tony award in 2010. So it is very successful. It is also a very entertaining show. A joy to watch.

"Memphis" is set in the fifties. The story is about a DJ, Huey Calhoun, who brings black music to a white radio audience. The underlying theme is race relations including forbidden love in a very racist Memphis, Tennessee. Both lead roles in this romantic comedy are riveting.

The PBS special was shot on Broadway, a single performance in front of a live audience. They used a two camera technique where the cameras are positioned to either side of the stage. Since, in theater, the actors play to the front of the stage this is a very challenging production technique. Still, it was unnoticeable during the show. Behind the scenes they discussed the challenge this presented because of the dynamic blocking with the actors constantly in motion on stage. After you watch the show be sure you watch Behind  The Scenes.

Right now follow me below the fold for more about this great show.

Memphis takes place in the smoky halls and underground clubs of the segregated 50’s, where a young white DJ named Huey Calhoun (Chad Kimball) falls in love with everything he shouldn’t: rock and roll and an electrifying black singer Felicia Farrell (Montego Glover). Memphis is an original story about the cultural revolution that erupted when his vision met her voice, and the music changed forever.

 - Memphis - About the Musical Theater Broadcast

There's some great music, some of it clearly referring back to fifties and sixties hits. Chad Kimball delivers a uniquely quirky character in Huey Calhoun. Montego Glover sings so well it's easy to imagine Felicia Farrell becoming a big star.

And there are also some very powerful scenes speaking directly to the racism in our near past and our present. I will not describe them because I want you to watch this show and I won't spoil it.

The show’s Tony®-winning original score features music by Bon Jovi’s founding member and keyboardist David Bryan and lyrics by Bryan and Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change), who also pens the musical’s book. The show is based on a concept by the late George W. George (producer of the Tony nominated Bedroom Farce and the film My Dinner With Andre), with direction by Tony nominee Christopher Ashley (Xanadu) and choreography by Sergio Trujillo, (Jersey Boys, Next to Normal).

 - Memphis - About the Musical Theater Broadcast

Go to the link to view a preview.

Here's the trailer.

Broadway Worldwide trailer for Memphis- Direct From Broadway

And here's some more.

Memphis Broadway Show Feature

Enjoy!

Hairy Larry

P.S.

The character Huey Calhoun is loosely based on Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips. Check this out on MyFoxMemphis.

Dewey Phillips' Family Meets 'Memphis' Cast

Originally posted to DKOMA on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 02:47 PM PST.

Also republished by Protest Music, An Ear for Music, Musical Moondays, and Team DFH.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    Please join the Protest Music Group where we sing truth to power.

    by hairylarry on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 02:47:53 PM PST

  •  Please post or embed (6+ / 0-)

    Your favorite show music, Memphis music, Blues, Jazz Gospel R&B, Protest, you get the idea.

    Open music thread. All music is on topic.

    Thanks,

    Hairy Larry

    Please join the Protest Music Group where we sing truth to power.

    by hairylarry on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 02:50:28 PM PST

  •  Hey, Larry. I got a plug. (6+ / 0-)

    Turtle K informed me that "Boogie on the Bayou" show this Sunday is going to feature my music.

    I don't know why, but I'm plum tickled.

    Sunday, 6 pm WRFN Nashville

    Web/podcast link at the station website

    I don't vote in your church; don't preach in my government New video: "Undertaker"

    by Crashing Vor on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 03:29:43 PM PST

  •  Couldn't watch it... (3+ / 0-)

    being a native Memphian. There were just too many things that didn't work for me, despite the good over-all story underlying it. I'm glad you liked it and don't wish the cast and crew any ill (and as an old theater hand myself, certainly hope they have a long and successful run) but after about fifteen minutes I had to change the channel.

    The main problem I had with the show is not that it presents Memphis as being typical of southern cities in the 50's (racist and socially conservative, both absolutely correctly) but that it makes the city out as musically backward for the period, which is the one thing it was not. Memphis was the hotbed of the new sounds of rock and roll, the place where Elvis learned his groove, Jerry Lee found his fire, Roy got his swing, all based on a local music scene that pre-dated Phillips and all the rest of the early disc jockeys (like Freed.) I found it insulting that they couldn't tell the story without distorting one of the very things they're supposed to be holding out as the uplifting parts.

    Then there was the fact that not a single one of the actors managed anything even close to a proper Mid-southern accent. I heard east Texas, south Alabama, plenty of Georgia, but not a single one of them managed the real thing. With all the money they obviously spent on the show, you'd think they could at least get a dialect coach who knew what they were doing. I know this isn't something anyone not born and raised in Memphis would even notice, but it grated on my ears with every line of dialogue.

    The thing that really got me in the end is that it's really a good story, but the flaws only made me mad that this was the best they could do.

    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

    by Stwriley on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 03:34:05 PM PST

    •  I live in Jonesboro, Arkansas (4+ / 0-)

      About an hour from Memphis. But I was raised in Chicago so I didn't notice the dialect.

      I do know about the hotbed of musical activity in Memphis. And it still goes on today, in the whole Mississippi Delta region.

      I'm not sure about the history of radio in Memphis but across the country most black artists were relegated to Race stations. It cannot be attributed to any one DJ, like the story represents, but the emergence of Black music into the mainstream of American music, first through Jazz and later through R&B and Soul and now Hiphop has been one of the most important trends in American musical and civil rights history.

      Thanks for your comments,

      Hairy Larry

      Please join the Protest Music Group where we sing truth to power.

      by hairylarry on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 03:48:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And Also Larry, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hairylarry

        This is a stage show. I don't think stage shows are as detailed in content as like a movie.

        With a stage show, audience participation is much more intense and focused on the performance.  

        Theater is an entirely different kind of experience than film! imo, to sit right there and watch the actors perform.

        Way different than a movie or tv show where there is a strong emphasis on just the plot and there's the time and ability to branch off on different scenarios too.

        I went to the musical 42St back in the seventies. I had a fourth row orchestra seat. I could feel the vibrations of the dancers on the floor.

        A good show entrances the audience int the plot; seeing the actors up close, the colors of the costumes, the sound of the music, etc and these are the key parts of a good stage show.

        Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

        by rebel ga on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 04:42:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  darn typos! should have read (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hairylarry

          not int

          A good show entrances the audience in the plot;

          Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

          by rebel ga on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 04:49:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Also on a stage show (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rebel ga

          Everythings big. The arms wave. People jump. Emotions are magnified for the audience to experience from a distance.

          For someone used to watching television this can seem unusual on their TV screen.

          I was saved by the characters. I became so absorbed in the characters that I didn't notice the little differences.

          Thanks,

          Hairy Larry

          Please join the Protest Music Group where we sing truth to power.

          by hairylarry on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 05:39:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Here's as Memphis a sound as there is. (3+ / 0-)

    I apologize for the rant from above, hairylarry, it's just a sore point with me.

    To add to your open thread, though, here's one of those early jewels of Memphis music who influenced the early rock and rollers. These days, she's finally getting a bit of recognition: Memphis Minnie, singing and playing "Hoodoo Lady Blues".

    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

    by Stwriley on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 03:42:56 PM PST

  •  Joe Lee Combo (3+ / 0-)

    THE JOE LEE COMBO - BLACK EYED PEAS

    Recorded in Jonesboro for his own label, Alley Records, my friend, Joe Lee, also recorded at Memphis in the fifties working with Scotty Moore and Bill Black at Fernwood.

    Thanks,

    Hairy Larry

    Please join the Protest Music Group where we sing truth to power.

    by hairylarry on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 04:00:59 PM PST

  •  Restless (3+ / 0-)

    WILLIE MITCHELL - RESTLESS

    Willie Mitchell (March 1, 1928 – January 5, 2010) was an American soul, R&B, rock and roll, pop and funk record producer and arranger, who ran Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. He was best known for his Hi Records label of the 1970s, which released albums by a large stable of popular Memphis soul artists, including Mitchell himself, Al Green, Syl Johnson and Ann Peebles.

     - wikipedia

    Thanks,

    Hairy Larry

    Please join the Protest Music Group where we sing truth to power.

    by hairylarry on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 04:07:14 PM PST

  •  Bringing it up to date (3+ / 0-)

    FreeWorld; "Earth Mother" by Dr. Herman Green - Sax & Guitar Jam Session!

    FreeWorld jams on an original composition, "Earth Mother", off their "Live from Memphis" CD. The bass player, Richard Cushing, literally takes the music to the street using a wireless set up, then Dr. Herman Green and Matt Tutor duel it out in true Jazz Fusion style. Just awesome!
    I love these guys.

    Thanks,

    Hairy Larry

    Please join the Protest Music Group where we sing truth to power.

    by hairylarry on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 04:12:06 PM PST

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