Friends and music fans gathered at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville for a fundraiser to support popular Memphis music personality Robert Jordan, better known as Bobby Memphis. Bobby Memphis, who is recovering after a long hospitalization, defied the odds and walked into 3rd and Lindsley and was a lively presence during the night of extraordinary performances.
The recently reunited band Human Radio headlined and closed the evening with a spirited performance of songs from their 1990 self-titled album, as well as several songs from a new album that is in the works. Human Radio’s initial run was short but eventful. The art pop band was formed in Memphis in the late ’80s, and gained a sizable following before signing to Columbia Records. They released their self-titled album and had a minor hit and MTV Video. The moved to Nashville in the early ’90s, decided to leave Columbia, and disbanded in 1992. The members went their separate ways but remained close friends.
When leader Ross Rice moved back to Nashville (where the other members still lived) in late 2014, they decided to reform the band. Based upon Wednesday night’s performance, Human Radio picked up right where they left of some 20 years before.
The band’s music is a mixture of rock and soul influences with quirky instrumentation and intelligent and witty lyrics. Their strength lies in their infectious grooves and barbed-wire hooks, which sounded as fresh in 2015 as they did in 1990. The new songs were strong and it was clear that the band was enjoying this second chance.
Human Radio were preceded by the Nashville band Daddy, which is fronted by the one-two punch of songwriter and guitarists Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack. They’re backed by Paul Griffin on drums, Dave Jacques on bass, and John Deaderick on keyboards — all in-demand sidemen and session musicians whose resumes read like a who’s-who of Nashville-based music of the last few decades. Daddy’s mix of juke-joint blues, country, and rock is both original and comfortably familiar.
Veteran St. Louis-based alt-country/roots rock band Bottle Rockets played a powerful set with Kimbrough pulling double duty, filling in on guitar. That band performed songs from their forthcoming album (set for October release) as well as songs from their extensive catalogue. Country trio The Henningsens joined Bottle Rockets on stage and performed three songs, including “All Your Life,” which was written by the band and became a number one country single for the Band Perry.
Audley Freed (whose credits include playing guitar for Sheryl Crow and The Black Crowes) opened the show with some “Friends” that included Jen Gunderman (The Jayhawks) on keyboards and Sarah Potenza (a contestant on the most recent season of NBC’s The Voice, as well as a powerful Nashville singer-songwriter).
The night was for Bobby Memphis, but it was clearly all about the music. All indications were that Memphis — slowed but not stopped by illness — approved.
Donations to help Bobby Memphis with his medical expenses and recovery can be made at http://www.gofundme.com/robert-jordan.