Na­tive son back to of­fer mu­sic venue

> Terry’s Base­ment Lounge al­lows artists to ex­per­i­ment, spread wings

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Music - By Mark Jor­dan

Spe­cial to The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

Neo-soul artist Tim Terry spent sev­eral years writ­ing and record­ing in Cal­i­for­nia, and af­ter re­turn­ing to his home­town of Mem­phis four years ago, he found the mu­sic scene here not par­tic­u­larly em­brac­ing of his brand of so­phis­ti­cated R&B.

“It’s lack­ing,” says Terry of the op­por­tu­ni­ties for artists who don’t trade in rock, the blues or rap. “You don’t have a lot of venues that al­low you to show­case orig­i­nal ma­te­rial. It’s a main­stream-type of city where you have to fol­low the sta­tus quo.”

But this week­end the singer-song­writer helps chris­ten a new venue that could be­come a haven for more adult, ur­ban fare like Terry’s. Events pro­ducer Corey Davis de­scribes the Base­ment Lounge, in­side the Rumba Room at 303 S. Main Down­town, as “an al­ter­na­tive to the tra­di­tional club scene many feel they have out­grown.” The venue, which is open the first and third Sun­days of ev­ery month, will fea­ture not just live mu­sic but also co­me­di­ans, spo­ken word, and dance per­for­mances.

“There’s noth­ing like a live show,” says Davis, who is best known for his Re­birth of Soul se­ries of trib­ute con­certs. “I be­lieve pro­vid­ing an av­enue to per­form orig­i­nal ma­te­rial is es­sen­tial to the growth of Mem­phis’ ever-evolv­ing artis­tic cul­ture. It is very com­mon to find venues and artists that pro­mote cover bands, but there is not a venue that al­lows artists to be them­selves and in their mu­sic. … When set­ting up the lineup for the Base­ment Lounge, it was no doubt that Tim Terry would be a first choice. Tim Terry’s mu­sic is the true def­i­ni­tion of what orig­i­nal­ity, soul and cre­ativ­ity is.”

The son of a for­mer pas­tor at Mount Olive Bap­tist Church in Col­lierville, Terry be­gan learn­ing the key­board at age 3 from his big brother.

“Ba­si­cally I was a mu­si­cian be­fore I was any­thing,” he says of his early start.

As a teenager, how­ever, church mu­sic was sup­planted in his heart by the sounds of Al Green,

Marvin Gaye and Prince. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Fair­ley High School, Terry at­tended Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­sity with an eye to­ward in­ject­ing him­self into the Nashville mu­sic in­dus­try. But the prospect of spirit-crush­ing ses­sion work in gen­res that didn’t par­tic­u­larly ap­peal to him left Terry dis­heart­ened.

“If you’re do­ing ses­sion work, it’s al­most like work­ing in a fac­tory,” he re­calls. “It’s pretty much you’re on an as­sem­bly line, shut­tling the mu­sic through. You make great money, but there wasn’t a lot of life to the mu­sic.”

Terry had bet­ter luck in Cal­i­for­nia, where he moved af­ter col­lege. Work­ing out of San Diego and San Fran­cisco, Terry made great ca­reer strides. He worked with Nick Can­non on the ac­tor/mu­si­cian’s epony­mous de­but record, singing backup vo­cals on the track “My Rib.” More im­por­tantly, Terry pro­duced his own CD, 2005’s Tim Terry Ex­pe­ri­ence, and even man­aged to land some of his songs on film and tele­vi­sion sound­tracks, in­clud­ing the al­bum cut “On the Dance Floor” which was fea­tured in two episodes of the sit­com “Girl­friends.”

It was a fam­ily tragedy that brought Terry back to Mem­phis four years ago when his fa­ther, Rev. Wal­ter Lee Terry, passed away. Since re­turn­ing, how­ever, Terry has found him­self recharged, if not by the op­por­tu­ni­ties, then by the tal­ent here.

“Ev­ery place I’ve gone they have more of a re­spect for our mu­sic than we do,” Terry says. “In Mem­phis you can hear good singing any day of the week. ... So peo­ple don’t re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate a lot of up-and-com­ing artists that are work­ing on their craft.”

Terry hopes that changes soon. He’s putting the fin­ish­ing touches on his sopho­more CD, Born II Live , which he plans to have ready for a Jan­uary release. The first sin­gle from the record, the Latin-fla­vored slow jam, “Ooowee,” is al­ready for sale on most of the ma­jor mu­sic down­load sites. The new ma­te­rial is re­flec­tive of Terry’s com­ing out of a long dark pe­riod, in­clud­ing the af­ter­math of his fa­ther’s death, dur­ing which he couldn’t write.

“It sort of hit me one day that my prob­lems were no big­ger than any­one else’s,” he says of his emer­gence from his funk. “It hit me that day that I was put on Earth for a pur­pose, not to wal­low in self-pity. So at this point in my life I’m pre­pared to en­joy ev­ery minute of my life.”

Mem­phian Tim Terry left the Mid-South in fa­vor of a more ac­com­mo­dat­ing at­mos­phere for his neo-soul mu­sic in Cal­i­for­nia but is back home to ad­vance lo­cal tal­ent at the Base­ment Lounge on South Main.

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