Acclaimed singer/songwriter/guitarist and ex cab-driver Mem
Shannon has taken his unforgettable songs and funky soloing
all over the world, from his native New Orleans to Europe and
Hong Kong. In 2001, with a little help from Wayne Jackson and
Andrew Love — the legendary Memphis Horns — and
producer Dennis Walker (of Robert Cray fame), Mem Shannon’s
musical journey traveled to Memphis in the Morning.
Mem’s fourth worldwide release, Memphis in the Morning,
is a fusion of the shared musical genius of two of America 's
most musical cities: New Orleans and Memphis. In his devastatingly
syncopated guitar licks, Shannon channels the legacy of Booker
T. & the MGs and the Meters. Through Love and Jackson's
horns, the band nods to the burning R&B of Stax's heyday,
and the jumping charts that Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew
pioneered in the Crescent City. But most importantly, Shannon
's songwriting and aesthetic reflects the blue-collar grit and
sense of Southern joy shared by Memphis and New Orleans. These
two cities are still havens for neighborhood charm and regional
pride -- and Mem knows their people and terrain.
result is a breakthrough album in a career that just keeps rocketing
skyward. Since retiring from his day (and night) job of driving
a cab in the mid-90s, Shannon’s indelible mix of groove-heavy
blues combined with alternately heartfelt and humorous songwriting
has won over a sizable fan base, and all corners of the print,
television and radio universe.
Shannon 's one-of-a-kind musical fingerprint was captured at
famed Ardent Studios in Memphis , with the help of heavyweight
producer/engineer John Hampton (Gin Blossoms, Stevie Ray Vaughan)
behind the boards mixing the album.
The CD’s title track is a stirring road lament, with the
brass lines giving the song the feel of a lost Stax track. “S.U.V.”
is Shannon ’s playful jab at road hogs, using a deftly
rhymed acronym, while Shannon ’s distinct vocals and phrasing
on B.B. King’s “Why I Sing the Blues” turn
it into his own personal mission statement.
The tender stripped-down ballad “You Belong to Him”
and the country-ready “Tired Arms” reveal Shannon’s
cross-genre appeal, while “Shake Up the Floor” and
“I Smell Something Funky” are prime Shannon throwdowns,
bursting with New Orleans funk and a jazzy elasticity that sounds
like George Benson meets the Meters’ Leo Nocentelli.
Mem Shannon had never even traveled outside of New Orleans before
the release of his 1995 debut CD, A Cab Driver's Blues. He'd
driven a taxi in the Crescent City since he was 18 years old,
playing gigs on Bourbon Street when his meter wasn't running.
But his powerful musical voice deserved to be heard beyond city
limits and legendary producer Joe Boyd signed him to the Hannibal/Rykodisc
label. He followed up his first album with the no-nonsense 2nd
Blues Album for Hannibal/Rykodisc before signing with Shanachie
in 1999 for his third CD, Spend Some Time With Me.
As indicated by past accolades, there has been a consistent
flurry of activity accompanying Mem’s most recent release.
His first three albums were hailed by the likes of the New York
Times, USA Today, National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning
and ABC World News, and Shannon’s spread the word by playing
a truckload of acclaimed gigs, including the Muddy Waters Tribute
at The Kennedy Center (where he shared the stage with Gregg
Allman, Buddy Guy, Robert Jr. Lock wood, John Hiatt and other
legends), The Kansas City Jazz & Blues Festival, The Montreal
Jazz Festival, The King Biscuit Blues Festival… and he’s
been presented in Hong Kong by the House of Blues, and in Venezuela
by the U.S. Embassy. He’s also toured Canada and Australia
in the last year. Now Mem Shannon is headed your way, with his
ultra-tight band The Membership in tow.