Dirty Streets greet Europe, Big Star’s ‘Third’ goes to L.A.

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MUSIC -

Dirty Streets front­man Justin Toland has been overseas plenty of times. As it hap­pens, his par­ents — aca­demics who deal in in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion — have lived all through Europe and Scan­di­navia, from Hun­gary to Switzer­land. “I’ve vis­ited them over there a lot,” he says.

But next week, Toland will see the con­ti­nent rockand-roll-style as the Dirty Streets em­bark on their maiden Euro­pean voy­age, play­ing 24 shows in 30 days, in sup­port of their lat­est al­bum “White Horse.”

Be­fore head­ing out, the Mem­phis blues-rock­ers — gui­tarist/vo­cal­ist Toland, drum­mer Andrew Den­ham, and bassist Thomas Storz — will play a send-off gig at the Young Av­enue Deli on Satur­day at 10 p.m.

Formed i n 2008, the Dirty Streets have es­tab­lished them­selves as one of pre-emi­nent rock bands in the re­gion: a group of youths con­vinc­ingly able to merge el­e­ments of Hill Coun­try blues, proto-punk and ’70s boo­gie-rock into a pleas­ing and some­how con­tem­po­rary-sound­ing pack­age.

Fol­low­ing a pair of self­funded, self-re­leased al­bums, the group signed with Bur­bank, Cal­i­for­ni­abased la­bel Alive/nat­u­ral Sound Records, for their third al­bum, and con­tinue with the com­pany for “White Horse.”

Re­leased in the U.S. this past fall — the Euro­pean ver­sion came out in Jan­uary — the al­bum finds the group sharp­en­ing its riff­fu­eled songcraft while re­al­iz­ing a some­what broader mu­si­cal scope.

“This record was more about re­fin­ing our sound, but also go­ing off into a few dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions,” says Toland. “There’s some softer songs on there. It wasn’t a con­scious thing of I want to write songs of this type. In the ear­lier days, I might’ve thought that way. But this record was or­ganic. It was writ­ten how it was writ­ten and the songs just came out — we just fo­cused more on the ar­range­ments, and a sense of hav­ing some dy­nam­ics.”

Toland adds that his writ­ing burst from the al­bum has con­tin­ued and the band plans to start work on a quick fol­low-up later this year. “While I’m in the mood to write, I just try and write as much as pos­si­ble,” he says.

Be­fore they can do that, how­ever, the group will be con­tin­u­ing on the road. Af­ter Europe, they’ve booked a South­east­ern tour with L.A. psych band Slow Sea­son, and have plans in the works for a sum­mer West Coast run, built around their ap­pear­ance at the Psy­cho Las Ve­gas mu­sic festival (a bill that pairs the group with like-minded rock­ers Blue Öys­ter Cult and Fu Manchu).

Adds Toland: “We’re go­ing to be tour­ing a lot from here to the end of 2016.”


The con­tin­u­ing se­ries of con­certs cel­e­brat­ing Mem­phis cult band Big Star’s famed “Third” al­bum will come to Los An­ge­les later this month. The April 27 show at the Alex Theatre will boast an­other all-star lineup of guest per­form­ers, and be filmed for a DVD re­lease.

The “Third” al­bum — al­ter­nately known as “Sis­ter Lovers” — was orig­i­nally recorded by Big Star’s Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens at Mid­town’s Ar­dent Stu­dios in the mid-’70s. The record — a dark and com­plex col­lec­tion of songs — vexed the mu­sic in­dus­try at the time, and was given a be­lated, mi­nor in­die-la­bel re­lease at the end of the decade.

How­ever, the mu­sic and myth of “Third” would grow ex­po­nen­tially in the decades to come. When it was fi­nally is­sued on CD in the early ’90s, the record was hailed by Rolling Stone as an “un­tidy mas­ter­piece ... beau­ti­ful and dis­turb­ing, pris­tine and un­kempt … and ve­he­mently orig­i­nal.”

North Carolina mu­si­cian and Chilton col­lab­o­ra­tor Chris Stamey had long been en­am­ored of the record and the idea of re-creat­ing the “Third” al­bum (along with full string ar­range­ments) live on stage. He was close to re­al­iz­ing a ver­sion of the show with a reunited, lat­ter-day Big Star lineup, when the band’s camp suf­fered a se­ries of losses: first, with the pass­ing of “Third” pro­ducer Jim Dick­in­son in 2009, and then the sub­se­quent deaths of singer Chilton and orig­i­nal bassist Andy Hum­mel in 2010 — leav­ing drum­mer Stephens as the group’s only sur­vivor. (Band co-founder Chris Bell died in 1978.)

Stamey fi­nally achieved his dream and de­vel­oped a “Third” con­cert pro­duc­tion that has been staged in the U.S. and around the world over the last few years. A lo­gis­ti­cally com­plex and ex­pen­sive show — typ­i­cally fea­tur­ing a dozen mu­si­cians, in­clud­ing a cham­ber orches­tra, horn sec­tion and guest singers — it was pre­sented in Mem­phis at the Levitt Shell in 2014.

The up­com­ing Los An­ge­les con­cert and DVD film­ing will once again be led by Stamey and Jody Stephens, and fea­ture lat­ter-day Big Star mem­bers Ken Stringfel­low and Jon Auer of the Posies as part of the core band. The guest list fea­tures Mike Mills of R.E.M., Mitch Easter of Let’s Ac­tive, Jeff Tweedy and Pat San­sone of Wilco, Ira Ka­plan of Yo La Tengo, Robyn Hitch­cock, Dan Wil­son of Semisonic, and Ben­mont Tench from Tom Petty and the Heart­break­ers, among oth­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to or­ga­niz­ers, the con­cert will fea­ture a full cham­ber orches­tra helmed by the Kronos Quar­tet, “per­form­ing scores cre­ated di­rectly from the orig­i­nal mul­ti­track tapes from Ar­dent.” Memphian Carl Marsh, who wrote the orig­i­nal or­ches­tra­tions, will con­duct.

The con­cert will be filmed and di­rected by Yes Equals Yes — the L.A. pro­duc­tion com­pany that has done work for Devo, Dwight Yoakam and oth­ers. The DVD is ten­ta­tively slated for a spring 2017 re­lease through the Con­cord Bi­cy­cle Mu­sic Group.


As the weather con­tin­ues to warm, the MidSouth con­cert calendar is also heat­ing up, with a slew of big acts, familiar names and no­table up-and-com­ers all an­nounc­ing lo­cal shows.

Min­gle­wood Hall will present a con­cert by Los An­ge­les sib­ling rock­ers Haim on May 24. The sis­ter act — who are cur­rently work­ing on a fol­low-up to their widely hailed 2013 de­but “Days are Gone” — will be mak­ing their Mem­phis de­but. Tick­ets for the show are $27 and go on sale April 1 at 10 a.m.

The fol­low­ing night, on May 25, Min­gle­wood will present a con­cert by the Hard Work­ing Amer­i­cans. The group, led by long­time Mem­phis fa­vorite, singer­song­writer Todd Snider, is an all-star combo that also in­cludes Dave Schools, Neal Casal, Duane Trucks, Chad Staehly and Jesse Ay­cock. Tick­ets are $25.

On June 14, Min­gle­wood will host the Mem­phis re­turn of Pa­cific North­west in­die-rock greats Built to Spill. The group’s show will take place at the club’s 1884 Lounge. Tick­ets are $23.

All tick­ets for Min­gle­wood con­certs are avail­able at min­gle­wood­hall. com

Mean­while, Down­town’s New Daisy also has con­firmed a re­turn en­gage­ment from the Chris Robin­son Brother­hood. The for­mer Black Crowes singer — who helped usher in the ren­o­vated Daisy with a gig last sum­mer — will be per­form­ing on June 16. Tick­ets are $18 at new­dasiy.com

Fans of South­ern jam bands will also get a chance to see genre icons Wide­spread Panic on June 18, as the group plays the Mud Is­land Am­phithe­atre. Tick­ets for that are $53.50 and go on sale on April 1 at 10 a.m. at all Tick­et­mas­ter out­lets and tick­et­mas­ter.com.

Bob Mehr can be reached at mehr@com­mer­cialap­peal.com or 901-529-2517.


Mid-south rock­ers the Dirty Streets get ready to de­part for a long Euro­pean tour this week — but not be­fore play­ing a send­off con­cert at the Young Av­enue Deli on Satur­day.



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