VISITING ACT: Memphis (the band) 

Little bit country, little bit rock 'n' roll

"Barefoot and Blinded" from the album Last of the Cadillac Days
Audio File

Twelve years ago, Jeremy Thompson and his cousin and bandmate Scott Morgan were sowing oats and wearing out tire treads on a road trip to California. The two fell hard for Memphis. When they started looking for a name to christen their new group, Elvis' homeland seemed a natural fit for their sound.

Thompson admits that since their "eureka!" moment, the band has often been dismissed as a country outfit, based simply on Memphis's physical proximity to Nashville. In reality, Memphis the band is more button-down shirts with ripped jeans discreetly hiding their cowboy boots, than full ranch hand chic.

"I keep trying to tell everyone that Nashville's six hours east of Memphis, but it hasn't quite worked out as I thought," Thompson laughs.

Memphis (the band) is the perfect act for anyone who appreciates songs that tell stories with a bit of blues, funk, and twang. Morgan is Memphis' voice, and his rough growl is the stuff of back roads and beer, rollicking and rich where called for, and Walker's drums provide a great backbone to the majority of Memphis' songs. The cousins are joined by Shannon Morgan on percussion, Ryan Davis on bass, and Peter Lucey on keys and accordion. Together, they create a unique blend of styles. "Fallen Down," is a bluesy ballad that harkens back to the scratchy-throat slumber of an old Tom Waits song.

Though most members of Memphis still hold down day jobs, they try to go on one small tour every year. Thompson admits they're still awaiting their big break, but he's ready for it.

"I have not experienced anything in my life that compares to being on stage with four other people," Thompson says. "We just want to tour and be out doing what we do best. We're not Daughtry being played once every two and half hours on six radio stations just in my town." —Andrea Warner

Memphis (the band) plays at Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ (1205 Ashley River Road, 843-225-RIBS) on Sat. June 7 at 10:30 p.m. Cover is $5. Visit www.myspace.com/memphisthebandnc for more.

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