Guest picks: Amanda Dent recommends

By: Amanda Dent

I have an embarrassing confession. I’ve never seen Don Bryant perform live.

In case ya didn’t know, Bryant was a seminal figure – albeit behind the scenes as a songwriter (mostly) – at Hi Records in the 60s and 70s. Most notably, he co-wrote the classic “I Can’t Stand the Rain” with his wife, Ann Peebles.

But after releasing his 2017 album “Don’t Give Up on Love,” Bryant took center stage. And boy, has he ever. Most recently, he released his highly lauded album “You Make Me Feel” in 2020. He recorded both albums and has toured internationally with the incredible musicians of The Bo-Keys. At a youthful 79, Bryant’s soulful voice – both as a songwriter and vocalist – is as strong and affecting as ever.

Despite the admission that I’ve never seen Mr. Bryant sing live; this Friday’s show at Crosstown Theater will no doubt be the perfect, magical introduction to this legend’s live performance chops. Not only will he be backed by The Bo-Keys, but this one-night-only performance also features members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. But wait! There’s more. The orchestra will also be performing music from Craig Brewer’s 2019 film Dolemite Is My Name (scored by Scott Bomar of the Bo-Keys). Bomar has been a long-time collaborator with Brewer – on the films Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan and, of course, the aforementioned Dolemite Is My Name. Also of note, Bomar produced Bryant’s last two albums.

As if the slate of talent and music being performed isn’t already enough, there’s the venue. Crosstown Theater is stunning in its aesthetic and the sound is *chef’s kiss*. That’s why my recommendation for live music this week is Don Bryant + The Bo-Keys + the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

When I moved to this city over 20 years ago, it was admittedly and somewhat naively because of the music (who uproots their life to a city because of its music? This one.). It was the best decision of my life. And a show like this – that can only happen in Memphis – is yet another example of why there’s no other music city like ours.

Get Tickets Here.

Amanda has been immersed in Memphis music since planting roots here in 2000 — starting with an internship at the Memphis Chapter of the Recording Academy and countless freelance gigs writing about and photographing Memphis musicians. She’s been involved in community radio for over 13 years, most recently, contributing to the mission statement, programming, marketing and branding of WYXR 91.7 FM as well as hosting a show, Finders, Keepers. Although still not entirely comfortable with calling herself a “real” musician, she’s a member of the yacht rock cover band, Relentless Breeze, plays drums with whomever will let her step to a kit and has recorded background vocals on releases from San Salida, Jeff Hulett and Tony Manard.

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