Lafayette’s will be The Mem­phis Dawls’ last per­for­mance for a while

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MUSIC - BOB MEHR

Lo­cal roots-pop out­fit The Mem­phis Dawls will play a pre-Christ­mas show Wed­nes­day at Lafayette’s Mu­sic Room. The gig is be­ing billed as a farewell show; the group has con­firmed it will be their last gig for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

Al­though they’re not break­ing up of­fi­cially, the Dawls have con­firmed they are tak­ing a ma­jor hia­tus. The change in the band’s sta­tus is largely due to Dawls’ guitarist/ vo­cal­ist Holly Cole’s re­cent wed­ding and loom­ing move to Hawaii to be with her hus­band, who serves in the Coast Guard. “Holly’s go­ing to be in Hawaii for the next couple years, and the long-dis­tance thing, es­pe­cially that long of a dis­tance, makes it very hard to keep the band go­ing,” says Dawls vi­o­lin­ist/singer Krista Wroten Combest.

Wroten Combest notes that she and cel­list/vo­cal­ist Jana Misener will con­tinue to play to­gether, though not un­der the Dawls moniker. Wroten Combest also will con­tinue her role as a mem­ber of roots-rock band Dead Sol­diers. Cole, mean­while, expects to re­turn to vis­ual art (she’s an art school grad). “The band’s been great, but I think we’re all go­ing to re­fo­cus our cre­ativ­ity a bit,” says Wroten Combest.

Al­though Wroten Combest al­lows that the band will still do shows pe­ri­od­i­cally when their sched­ules al­low, their time as one of the city’s more promis­ing Amer­i­cana en­sem­bles ap­pears to be over af­ter a five-year run — but their roots to­gether stretch back even fur­ther.

Cole, Combest and Misener met while at­tend­ing Cor­dova High School in the late ’90s. All of them were in drama classes to­gether, and Misener and Wroten Combest played in the Mem­phis Youth Symphony. In later years, they made mu­sic to­gether in var­i­ous two-woman per­mu­ta­tions, but it wasn’t un­til 2010 that the trio united to per­form a ben­e­fit con­cert for their for­mer high school theater teacher.

Singing to­gether for the first time, the trio evinced a nat­u­ral chem­istry, which even­tu­ally gar­nered the in­ter­est of pro­ducer Jeff Pow­ell and Mad­jack Records owner Ronny Rus­sell, re­sult­ing in 2014’s well-re­garded de­but al­bum, “Rooted in the Bone,” recorded at Ar­dent and Sun stu­dios.

Heavy tour­ing fol­lowed in 2014 and 2015 — though the Dawls didn’t quite break na­tion­ally as some had pre­dicted — be­fore the band mem­bers’ per­son­al­life changes made con­tin­u­ing in reg­u­lar fash­ion im­prac­ti­cal.

The Dawls will of­fer up a proper good­bye on Wed­nes­day at Lafayette’s with a full band show that is also ex­pected to in­clude sev­eral spe­cial guests.

The fi­nal word from the group — for the time be­ing, any­way — will come next year. Their per­for­mance for the WKNO-dis­trib­uted pub­lic TV show “Sun Stu­dio Ses­sions” (which was taped in Septem­ber) is slated for broad­cast in early 2016.

THE KING’S WARES

With the King’s birth­day com­ing up in just a few weeks, Elvis Pres­ley En­ter­prises has an­nounced an­other of its “The Auc­tion at Grace­land” sales, this one at 7 p.m. Jan 7.

Help­ing to kick off the three-day Elvis birth­day fes­tiv­i­ties, the up­com­ing event will mark the fourth of­fi­cial sale since Grace­land Auc­tions and its re­lated au­then­ti­ca­tion ser­vice were launched in 2014. Held at the Grace­land Ar­chives stu­dio, the up­com­ing sale will see more than 120 Elvis ar­ti­facts go un­der the ham­mer.

This year’s high­light items in­clude the 1969 cus­tom Gib­son Ebony Dove gui­tar Elvis used dur­ing his 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii” satel­lite con­cert — as well as many shows be­tween 1971 and 1975 and for much of the “Elvis on Tour” doc­u­men­tary. The gui­tar has been given a pre-auc­tion es­ti­mate of $300,000 to $500,000, with Grace­land of­fi­cials tour­ing it as “one of the most cul­tur­ally sig­nif­i­cant and cel­e­brated gui­tars in mu­sic history.”

Other pieces set for sale in­clude a 1958 let­ter Elvis wrote to his friend Alan For­tas while he was sta­tioned in Ger­many (es­ti­mated at $30,000 to $50,000), the gold-toned mi­cro­phone and cord used on stage by Elvis at the In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel in Las Vegas dur­ing his con­cert run there in 1969 (es­ti­mated at $10,000 to $15,000), as well as an orig­i­nal reelto-reel record­ing of a 1955 Louisiana Hayride show, the con­cert where the fa­mous phrase “Elvis has left the build­ing” was orig­i­nated by an­nouncer Ho­race Lo­gan (es­ti­mated be­tween $10,000 to $15,000).

Tick­ets to at­tend the auc­tion will be avail­able for pur­chase at Grace­land on the day of the sale. Reg­is­tered bid­ders can re­serve

a spot at the auc­tion by email­ing auc­tion­[email protected] grace­land.com. On­line bid­ding started Dec. 16 at grace­landauc­tions.com.

SHELL UP­GRADES

Ear­lier this month, the Le­vitt Shell at Over­ton Park an­nounced plans for $4 mil­lion in ren­o­va­tions to ac­com­mo­date a wider va­ri­ety of mu­si­cal acts and big­ger crowds. The work, which is be­ing funded through pri­vate do­na­tions, will in­clude up­grades in light­ing, sound and other tech­nol­ogy, as well as ex­panded ar­eas for ven­dors and a load­ing area for mu­si­cians. The Shell, hosts 50 free con­certs a year, and at­tracts roughly 128,000 visi­tors an­nu­ally.

Ac­cord­ing to the Shell’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Anne Pitts, the prac­ti­cal im­pli­ca­tions for the Shell’s 2016 sched­ule will be sig­nif­i­cant. Part of the prob­lem with the lim­i­ta­tions of the old Shell sound sys­tem was that it mean that larger en­sem­bles — sym­phonies, or­ches­tras, Latin and African mu­sic big bands — were harder and more ex­pen­sive to do, be­cause of the equip­ment up­grades needed to ac­com­mo­date them. But with the new sound sys­tem in place — it’s ex­pected to be in­stalled in May — Pitts notes that those types of book­ing op­tions will be eas­ier and more vi­able.

“We’ve done sym­phonic shows, but it’s been hard be­cause of the added cost,” she says. “We’ve also been lim­ited in bring­ing some of the larger Latin or African mu­sic groups be­cause of the amount and kind of in­stru­men­ta­tion that are re­quired. So all the (up­grades) are go­ing to widen the door for us to bring more and dif­fer­ent types of mu­sic to the Shell with a greater ease.”

Pitts adds that hav­ing a new sound sys­tem should re­sult in more out­side events and in­de­pen­dently pro­moted con­certs at the Shell — which had also been lim­ited pre­vi­ously due to equip­ment is­sues.

Pitts is cur­rently fi­nal­iz­ing book­ing for the Shell’s spring/sum­mer 2016 sched­ule. The lineup is ex­pected to be an­nounced in April.

YALONDA M. JAMES/THE COM­MER­CIAL AP­PEAL FILES

The Mem­phis Dawls — Holly Cole, Jana Misener and Krista Wroten Combest— will be tak­ing a hia­tus fol­low­ing a farewell show Wed­nes­day at Lafayette’s Mu­sic Room.

Elvis’s Gib­son acous­tic, made fa­mous in the 1970s, will be on sale as part of a Jan­uary auc­tion at Grace­land.

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