Red Hot: A Memphis Celebration of Sun Records
The album is co-produced by singer-guitarist Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi All Stars and Tamara Saviano, the Nashville-based writer-producer and author, and celebrates the work of Sam Phillips, the inaugural Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who founded his Sun label in 1952. Red Hot was recorded at the two legendary Memphis recording studios operated by Phillips: the humble Sun Studio at 706 Union Ave., opened in 1950 as the Memphis Recording Service, and the larger, futuristic Sam Phillips Recording Service at 639 Madison Ave., which went into business in October 1959 with the session for Charlie Rich’s hit “Lonely Weekends.” The album’s personnel have a direct connection to Sun’s history: Luther Dick- inson and his younger brother Cody, the North Mississippi All Stars’ drummer, are the sons of the late musician-producer Jim Dickinson. The Dickinson brothers serve as the hub of Red Hot’s house band, which also includes bassist-vocalist Amy LaVere, one of the Bluff City’s best-known front women; singer-guitarist John Paul Keith, a solo notable and a former member of the Tearjerkers; and keyboardist Rick Steff, whose credits include work with Cat Power, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, and Lucero. Keith, LaVere, and Luther Dickinson take lead vocals on numbers originally performed by Phillips’ artists – respectively, Warren Smith’s “Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache,” the Miller Sisters’ “Ten Cats Down,” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Moanin’ at Midnight.” A host of other performers interpret a brace of classic Sun recordings: Memphis’ own Valerie June (singing Carl Perkins’ “Sure to Fall”) and Bryan Hayes (Johnny Cash’s “Ways of a Woman in Love”), Arkansas-bred singer-songwriter Shawn Camp (“Lonely Weekends”), for- mer Squirrel Nut Zippers front man Jimbo Mathus (Jerry Lee Lewis’ “High School Confidential”) and Bluff City bluesman Alvin Youngblood Hart (Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”). The album’s wild card is 83-year-old blues singer and harp player Bobby Rush, who is heard on a remake of his raunchy 2003 track “Tough Titty.” All net proceeds from sales of the album will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the nation’s top pediatric care centers. This is the first album release from the Americana Music Society, a Memphis nonprofit, founded to foster and support the creation, performance and appreciation of Americana music.