By Jayne Ellen White
“Let me get everybody up on they feet. We fin’ to go in the Memphis way!”
Those were the the words in which Memphian GloRilla opened her American Music Awards performance in November of this year. The North Memphis crunk rapper took the AMA’s stage in Los Angeles, days after receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance. All of this happened months after her single “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)” was released earlier this spring. The most rewarding part for Memphis music fans is that Big Glo didn’t seem intimidated– she was ready. This moment was a favorite music moment of the year for many Memphians. This year Memphis music and its players were visible world wide. To name a few in the spotlight, Memphis horn player and artist, Kameron Whalum has been playing all year with Silk Sonic– the year’s most coveted live music ticket. Producer and engineer Ari Morris and rapper Moneybagg Yo received an Album of The Year Grammy nom for their work on Mary J. Blige’s Good Morning Gorgeous. Kenneth Whalum worked on Beyoncė’s latest record, Renaissance. I can’t even begin to list all the writer’s credits that Memphis’ artist racked up, let alone the albums released, shows played, studios opened, and milestones passed.
As the year comes to a close, I’m thinking about my favorite Memphis music moments of the year. Full disclosure, seeing Booker T. Jones playing perfectly with The Franklin Triplets at the Stax Museum’s secret pop up show this year stands out for more reasons than that it was my personal project accomplished for my full time job as the Marketing Director for the Stax Museum. It was, in fact, the 60th anniversary of the classic song “Green Onions,” and the Franklins are products of The Stax Music Academy. Watching Memphis music excellence come full circle was so inspiring. As it turns out– I wasn’t the only one that cherished that moment.
As I thought back on other music moments of 2022, I began to wonder what I missed, what stood out to others, and I began to investigate. In my investigation, there were some moments that came up over and over again, and other moments were intimate and personal, where only a few were present. One of them even involved Paul McCartney (see Scott McEwan’s recollection below). A few musicians left us with some advice: MonoNeon’s official send off of 2022 is, “Walk in the light, beautiful neon light.” The band Sunweight advises that “The love language of Sunweight and Memphis, Keeps us alive, helps us survive.” , and drummer, Alex Pruitt says in 2023 we should “Take A Risk, Take A Chance #LIFEISDOPE”. Solid words from some of Memphis’ finest!
So, as an end of year Memphis music wrap up, and to celebrate all the blessings the Memphis music scene has had both around the world, and close to home– I’ve gathered a list of Memphis music moments, from some of your favorite players in the music industry today.
Enjoy, and see you in 2023!
Favorite Memphis music moments of 2022:
Scott Mcewan, Studio Engineer and owner at Memphis Magnetic Recording Co: My favorite musical moment this year (perhaps in my whole life). Was in April when Elvis Costello was at Magnetic Magnetic recording for about a week. One morning a few days in, Elvis came in and said that Stella McCartney had called him and asked him to send her dad a video card for his 80th birthday in a few weeks. Of course we are all set up tracking songs, so Elvis decided we would sing him a song and film it on the iPad. The band quickly figured out what Beatles song they knew all the way through and decided on “Here There and Everywhere”. One of the techs on the floor filmed it on the iPad, and we multi tracked it up in the control room. During this I was flashing back to a “12 year old me” hanging out in my bedroom, wearing out the LP My Aim is True, and with Beatles posters plastered all over my walls. I honestly was having an out of body experience! Best musical moment of my life!
Ari Morris, Mixer, Engineer, Producer: My favorite Memphis music moment this year was waking up to a text that said “#1 AppleMusic #1 YouTube Trending Biggest Female Video 24hrs of 2022” the morning after “Tomorrow 2” (GloRilla, Cardi B) dropped.
CmaJor, Producer, Engineer: It would probably have to be IMAKEMADBEATS performing at the opening of our new studio OUTERSPACE. He did a 20 minute set on our outside stage to end the night. It was perfect.
Ben Aviotti, Musician: Definitely Lee Bains, Loamlands and Ben Abney & The Hurts. It was great as usual, but Loamlands was a huge surprise. Fantastic musicianship and songwriting. It was an intimate show at the Hi Tone Small Room but just a great time overall.
Boo Mitchell, Producer, Engineer: Definitely without a doubt it is this past September when Al Green came to Royal to do an exclusive interview with BMI celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Let’s Stay Together & I’m Still In Love With You Albums. Hi Rhythm here also and it’s the first time they have been here together since the 70s.
Grant Beatty of JOYBOMB: My favorite moment of the year for Joybomb has to be the release party at Bar DKDC for our debut album, American Cult Candy. It was incredible to perform at one of the coolest venues in Memphis, supported by the ever-talented Shorty and the Grooves. Thanks to Karen Carrier at DKDC for hosting us!
Jared Boyd, WYXR: Deanie Parker’s heartfelt letter to Booker T. Jones, the she recited at Memphis Music Hall of Fame.Either that or earlier in the week when he performed in Studio A at Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
Bailey Bigger, Artist: If we’re talking my shows, headlining Cooper Young Fest was by far my favorite moment of the year. My band played amazing and we just had a blast. The crowd was so fun and engaged and happy to be out. It felt like I got my city back for the first time since the pandemic. As for other bands, my top moment was Victor from Lucky 7 Brass Band playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the trombone in the swimming pool at a 4Memphis music fundraiser party over the summer.
Terence F. Clark, Artist, Producer, Musician: My favorite Memphis music moments of 2022 are completing my first world tour with country rock legend Keith Urban, and releasing a debut album with my trio SpiralPhonics. All this, while witnessing the eclectic and multifaceted branches of Memphis Music succeed in every genre and major stage across the world! From artists, musicians, writers, designers, etc. We literally have the most versatile and diverse collective of creatives in the world! It inspires me to see my peers out here reverently honoring our rich Memphis legacy by not limiting their art to the clouts and comforts of what was.
AWFM, Artist: It’d be UNAPOLOGETIC opening the OUTERSPACE. Studio
Rodd Bland, drummer, artist: I’d say winning a Blues Music Award for Best Emerging Artist Album for my passion project I released, Rodd Bland and the Members Only Band A Tribute to Bobby “Blue” Bland.
Aquarian Blood: I think our favorite Memphis Music moment of 2022 is sharing the stage at the Levitt Shell with Rachel Maxann, Lucky 7 Brass Band, and Hope Clayburn for Music Export Memphis’ Tambourine Bash back in October. It was an epic night filled with amazing performances and the collaboration helped us see our own music in a new light.
Ezra Wheeler, Music Writer: The first thing that comes to mind is A Weirdo From Memphis’ performance at Gonerfest. First, it’s rare for a hip-hop performer to grace the stage of Gonerfest in general, so it was already a notable addition to the line-up. The whole Unapologetic crew was there to support and the energy of anticipation was great. Once the show started, you could immediately tell that he was going to leave it all on the stage (which he did). At one point, AWFM scaled to the top of the Railgarten stage where the “Skate for Health” sign is and performed a couple of songs from up there. Everyone was clearly a bit on-edge, but it ended up being a really exhilarating and memorable set.
Honorable mentions: WYXR’s Raised by Sound Fest, Big Star’s 50th anniversary of #1 Record, Lukah at Tone’s Juneteenth event, and Kraftwerk at the Crosstown Theater.
Matt Ross-Spang, Engineer, Producer, Mixer: Dan Penn at DKDC and Elizabeth King at Mempho fest when the power went out her and her daughters sang acapella it was incredible!
Alex Green, Musician, Music Writer: Hands down, Booker T. Jones playing a set with SMA alums in the Stax Museum’s recreation of the old studio tracking room!
IMAKEMADBEATS, Producer: Probably AWFM breaking every rule that hadn’t even been written yet by climbing to the top of the Railgarten stage structure and finishing his first set in years with the crowd screaming “F MY JOB.”
Yella P, Memphissippi Sounds: My favorite Memphis music moment was Memphissippi Sounds being nominated for a Blues Music Award and performing at the awards ceremony was a surreal moment for me.
John Paul Keith, Artist: I would have to say playing with JM Van Eaton at his induction into the MMHOF.
T.O. Stringer, Musician: Playing the Levitt Shell with my brothers in Black Cream at the Tambourine Bash, along with so many other great artists, definitely one of my favorite Memphis music moments! Grateful to be in the mix.
Art Edmaiston, Saxophonist: I got to jam with Little Feat earlier this month and that was phenomenally fun.The Little Feat show was at Bluesville in Tunica. Marc Franklin and myself were asked to come play a couple of songs and during soundcheck, things were going so well that Bill Payne came to us and asked us to play a few more tunes with the group and really get wild with the music. Those guys really like to stretch the music, interact with one another and push some boundaries. Very fun time!
Tonya Dyson, Artist, CEO of Slim House: A #FUTUREINSIDERS powered by YouTube panel discussion with Jozzy, Hittkid, and Tommy Wright III hosted by Slim House and UNAPOLOGETIC!
You might also be interested in: Live Music Memphis Tonight | Memphis Live Music Calendar