TAV FALCO’S PANTHER BURNS

Like many of the musicians, scholars, carnies and flaneurs that inspired him, Tav Falco is a Southern provocateur grifting his audience with the ol’ song and dance act before shuffling out the back door with a wink and a nod. His historico-musico revue, The Unapproachable Panther Burns, originated in 1979 at the nadir of Memphis’ postmodern, post-Beale, post-Sun, post-Stax era, when the Mississippi River town had seemingly disappeared from the cultural map and shriveled into an obsolescent landmark. Only groups like the Dixie Flyers, Mud Boy and the Neutrons, Big Star and Panther Burns were intent to keep the fires burning with or without commercial success, and their contribution to experimental pop music, dirty rock ‘n roll and the blues revival have been incalculable.

Falco spent his formative years in the country near Whelen Springs, Arkansas, before landing in Memphis in the late 1960s. Co-founding with decadent poet Randall Lyon, the art action group TeleVista in which he worked alongside renowned photographer William Eggleston, Falco spent the next decade filming and photographing the city’s legendary cadre of country blues and rockabilly musicians, artists, and politicians, expanding his lens to the outer realms of the Mississippi hill country and the Delta. In his travels he documented Sam Phillips, R.L. Burnside, Phineas Newborn, Jr., James Carr, Cordell Jackson and Jessie Mae Hemphill to name but a few. Throughout his career in photography, video, film and music, Falco has merged the grainy portraiture of a gonzo documentarian with the spellbinding mythos of a backwoods raconteur. None is more illustrative of this raison d’etre than the band he founded with fellow musician and Memphian enfant terrible Alex Chilton – The Unapproachable Panther Burns.

Playing in the Memphis cotton lofts - wood-lined structures Falco likened to a guitar sounding box - Panther Burns developed their own tone science and gut-bucket approach to musical forms. The unbridled Panther Burns shows, which often featured guests like Charlie Feathers and Jim Dickinson, became monumental, renegade events. Ever-committed to preserving indigenous music and furthering new and daring expression, in 1985 Falco and the Panther Burns founded Counter Fest, an annual festival showcasing the best and the worst of the Memphis arts underground. The band quickly became a favorite in New York City, as well, where No Wave was emerging at the time. Rough Trade Records enthused over the band and released Panther Burns' debut album Behind The Magnolia Curtain in 1981. After twelve LP and EP releases and countless globetrotting tours, Falco expatriated to Europe, where he found his most embracing audiences along the Seine and Danube rivers. The lure of the Mississippi was not far from his mind when he finally chose the river towns of Paris and Vienna as outposts of mother Memphis. The New York Times declared of unorthodox preservationist Falco, “(He is) a singer, guitarist and researcher of musical arcane who hasn’t let his increasingly technical expertise and idiomatic mastery compromise the clarity of his vision.”

Past Shows


Sep
10
th
2013
7th St Entry
Sep
10
th
2013
7th St Entry

TAV FALCO’S PANTHER BURNS

with CRANKSHAFT (solo)

More Shows

Oct
29
th
Turf Club

Skalloween ft. Space Monkey Mafia, The Prizefighters, Runaway Ricochet, Courtesy of Tim, and Goodbye Mordecai

Nov
14
th
7th St Entry

Victor Internet

with Ariel & The Culture and Estereomance
Nov
12
th
Turf Club

Maggie Rose

Nov
15
th
Amsterdam Bar & Hall

Collie Buddz