Thursday, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus and The Independent Artist

"Coronavirus".  The one word that has sent the entire world into a toilet paper-snatching, facemask-stealing panic. In 2020, the year we should all be sailing about in flying cars; we are instead, teaching folks how to properly wash their hands. As I'm writing this, the City of Memphis where I live, is posting closures for schools, parades, sporting events and more at lightning quick pace. One quick pass through social media, and I see time and again the word, "CANCELLED" all over artists pages for gigs, tours and promotional appearances that were booked, some weeks and months in advance.

As a side note, Disneyland just announced they are closing. NOT DISNEYLAND! We already lost all our NCAA March Madness, not THIS, too!

I happen to know a lot of independent artists all around the world, and the one common thing they now share outside their love of creating amazing music, is their new fear of losing everything they've worked for. I'd say it's a pretty good guess that most of these folks also work other gigs, jobs, etc., to make ends meet already. Some, if not most, are small business owners, who are now DOUBLY worried about not only the effect on their music careers, but also their small business cash flow and truly, survival. They have families, beloved pets and mortgages. Most don't have health insurance. What if they get sick? Where are they to turn for help?

I've seen a LOT of communities coming together to help recently tornado-ravaged Nashville and surrounding areas in Middle TN, which affected a lot of these folks already with, at the very least, lost gigs due to venues being damaged or completed demolished by the tornados. Now, as this pandemic as the "WHO" is now referring to it, is making it's way around the world and clawing a path across the US, I want to encourage everyone to stay calm, get the FACTS, know your options, and, as our friends in the entertainment world try to stay afloat, support them by checking out their websites, buying their merchandise (clothing, albums, stickers, hats, etc.) and IF you see one of your favorite bands are still able to get a gig booked that doesn't cancel in your area, by all means, go to see them if at all possible and tip 'em!

Let's not allow this virus be talked about in years to come in the music industry with the opening words, "The Day The Music Died."

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Putting Value Where It Counts in 2020

Now that the New Year is upon us, I can share my Personal Vision and Goals. This year I've chosen to focus my attention on those who return the same amount of energy I put into them. Those who keep their word, want me in their personal space, make an effort to connect, and do not treat me as an afterthought. I am just as creative, valuable and as busy as everyone else, yet I still take the time to reach out, cultivate and maintain my relationships on a deeper level than just a text or message here and there. I realized I was chasing my tail trying to pin folks down the last year or two in all areas of my life; folks I admire, respect, love and cherish. I ABSOLUTELY LOATHE BEING TREATED AS AN AFTERTHOUGHT. In 2020, I'll maintain the same level of effort as before, but will lovingly release those who don't match my level of energy in return. Life moves at warp speed, one minute folks are here, the next, God has called them home. We aren't promised anything but the moment we are currently in. Outside of my ever growing love and relationship with Jesus, my family is the most important thing to me, followed by my friendships, then my career. I value loyalty in people to a fault. Social media is not a replacement for true interactions with folks; if anything, it isolates us to an even deeper degree. I love everyone in my life, and I have absolutely ZERO ill will towards anyone. This isn't about one particular event or person, but an overall assessment of my friendships and relationships with so many amazing people around the world. I admit I've definitely been guilty of blowing folks off, too. I think that's what really grabbed my attention. That's why the main focus of my life this year is to cultivate and nurture existing friendships, and to attract more like minded folks into my life. No matter your level of success in this world, how you treat others is the most important thing you can do. I am working on that; and I hope you will, too.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Hillbilly Casino and their crusade to bring REAL AMERICAN MUSIC to the masses

If you aren't familiar with this powder-keg explosive, PBR and Jägermeister-fueled quartet that makes up the loud, fast and truly entertaining band that IS Hillbilly Casino, are you really even allowed to call yourself a fan of modern day Rockabilly music? I mean, seriously. Go look at their website before you read the rest of this, you'll totally thank me later.

See, I told ya, didn't I? OK, if you didn't go look, shame on you. I'll give you ONE more chance to check them out before I continue. Here, look at this fun music video for their song, "Knockin At Your Door."    

Y'all. If you liked that video, even a lil bit, then you MUST get your ass to one of their live shows, like...YESTERDAY...and if you can even manage to find a table by the stage, even better. Their lead vocalist, Nic Roulette, is so high energy that he's even better than an IMAX 3-D movie experience. Hell, experiencing Nic perform in person comes complete with sight, sound, smell AND feel and sometimes, if you're close enough, sweat or beer might even hit ya and you won't give one flying flip cause you will be enjoying the show too much to care. If you even so much as blink, he will fly off that stage straight into your face like a wild banshee on a tear, all wild-eyed and manic lookin, all while somehow making you want to get even closer than you are. He never stops moving. He can go from head bangin' to ballet twirling right before your eyes. Don't believe me? GO TO A SHOW!

SERIOUSLY, right IN your face!

Interesting side note about Nic. Not only does he leave everything he has up on that stage by the end of the night, but he also fills in as a barber at NexGen Barber Shop in Murfreesboro, TN on occasion when he's not touring around the world. Here's their Facebook link for any guys out there wanting that authentic Rockabilly hair (Nic's really good about posting on FB when he will be there): 

Wanna hear some Elvis? They will throw down on "You're So Square". How 'bout some Johnny Cash? They do a highly entertaining version of "One Piece At A Time" that will blow your mind. Charlie Feathers your cup o' tea? Hell yeah. They can even play a Stray Cats song off the new album. Even better than their covers are their originals. High energy, knock your socks off songs shaped from the grit and grind of life on the road, hitting you square upside the head full force, and making you love every note of their music in a way you've never experienced before. Then, juuuust when you think you've heard it all, they hit you with a banjo-licked song called "Violets in May" that is ALWAYS a crowd favorite. There's a video to it, and you get to see Nic do some amazing river dance moves in it, and if you truly are well-versed in your rockabilly band knowledge, you may even spy some other famous faces in it. If you really wanna see it (and you DO, trust me), then go click that band site link above! 

Playing ALL guitar parts and the banjo, as well as vocals, is Ronnie Crutcher. Ronnie, having played with Brian Setzer at one point, is a mastermind behind those guitar strings and banjo finger picking. He has a solo CD out called "Crutchero" that is far different from his gig with HC. He's not afraid to break boundaries in music, and the reward is a cd chock full of amazing music that showcases his talent as a picker, plucker and song writer. Ronnie's solos during a HC live show mean in your face raw guitar pickin' that leaves the crowd cheering for more. It's truly showmanship at it's best. Ronnie is also one hell of a guitar, bass and banjo teacher (and probably other instruments I'm not aware of) of which he offers lessons on the side when he's home from the road. He has no problem teaching via Skype. He's a patient teacher and has a way of explaining both music theory and chord progression in such a way that even the most basic learner will not only grasp what's being taught, but also learn it in a fun and non-stressful way. (I'm pointing every finger back at myself here, as I take lessons from him via Skype.)

Ronnie Crutcher
Now, look. Everything I've said up to this point is all great, BUT. While all this centerstage action is grabbing most everyone's attention, there's a side show going on you need to know about, and it comes via the most intimidating looking, yet nicest fella I've ever met. I'm talking about the giant of a man, bass player and vocalist, Geoff Firebaugh, aka the Vanilla Gorilla. Geoff also wears the tour manager and mechanic hats of the band, and I think once you see Geoff in person, you know why he's the tour manager. I'd use lots of caution in approaching him with anything snarky if you don't know him, as I've heard stories he ain't afraid to stand up to bullies. (But seriously, who WOULDN'T be on their best behavior around him?) Geoff is probably my absolute favorite guy in this bunch (don't tell the other three cause I love 'em all equally, I swear), but I feel a big brother vibe any time I am around Geoff. It took me over a year to finally feel truly accepted by him. It's sorta like a little sister lookin up to a big brother sorta thing. I will say this. If Geoff likes you, you are in like Flynn. If he doesn't, I have a sneaky suspicion there's not a prayer in the world that would change his mind. Geoff stands off to the side in his blue jean overalls, with his trusty white and gold Doghouse Bass at the ready and slyly puts on his own show without missing a beat. Literally. If he sees someone paying attention to him during the show, he can change fingers while playing so that he's flipping them off. You might not even notice if you aren't really looking. I think it's the best and most enjoyable "fuck you" anyone's probably ever experienced. He makes faces and he does little things that are so subtle, yet so hilarious. All this is fueled by Jägermeister being fed to him by Nic throughout the show. When not on the road, Geoff runs a vintage store in Old Hickory, TN, along with his wife (whom I've yet to meet but I can't wait to because anyone that can keep the Vanilla Gorilla in check is a superhero in my book and really needs some sort of award or high honor like a street named after them or something...just sayin...) and it's called Live True Vintage. Here's the link if you wanna check it all out:

I will say this. Listening to this behemoth of a man excitedly talk about finding a blue taffeta dress he found at an estate sale is, well, a lil surreal! He truly loves shopping estate sales to find great pieces for their store and it shows. Go check 'em out next time you're in the Nashville area. (Don't get me, Geoff!  I swear I'll buy something for saying all that! LOLOLOL).
Geoff Firebaugh aka The Vanilla Gorilla
Rounding out the group is the literal heartbeat of the band, Matthew Arnn. "Matty" is dynamite on the drums, and has a legendary "battle jacket" that, if you are lucky enough, he will let you see. Somewhere on my Facebook page, I have a rare photo of him posing in it for me outside Blues City on Beale Street one night in between sets a year or so ago. (I even managed to touch one of the patches, so yeah, I'm cool, yo.) It's a high honor being allowed so close to "the jacket". 😊 His jacket may be legendary, but it doesn't even touch his percussion skills. He sits in the back, knockin out song after song, hair going every which way, all while appearing deep in thought. I like to say he's thinking of his next artistic creation while keeping the beat. That's right, Matthew is an exceptionally talented artist and many other bands call on him to create amazing artwork for their music and shows. He will even take broken cymbals and create pieces of art on them and sell them at HC gigs. They sell like hotcakes. If memory serves me correctly, he's also got a massive VHS tape collection of movies from every genre, and is always on the lookout for those rare movie finds. Want a one of a kind shirt done up? Matthew's your man.
Matthew Arnn
Speaking of band merch, if you haven't already purchased one of their rockin' albums, you can pick up ALL their cds, patches, stickers, trucker hats AND Vinyl albums AT THEIR SHOWS and on their website! They even have band shirts that the crowd willingly throws money at them for WHILE THEY ARE STILL ON STAGE PLAYING A SET. True aunt came with me to a show last year and a guy in the crowd offered her money for her shirt because he had "all the rest of their band shirts but that one" and he said he HAD TO HAVE IT. She wouldn't even consider the offer. The artwork on the shirts is all created by Matthew, and they are GREAT! Definitely collector item level creations.
These are just a couple examples. Definitely check with the band for their latest creations.

I truly love this band, and they had no idea I was doing this write up. From the moment I drunkenly stumbled into Blues City one evening with some friends a couple years ago, brazenly taking over a table front and center and dancing the night away to their every song, to this very moment, they have been nothing but kind and accepting to me, and to all the amazing folks that come out to catch their shows. I think of them as family, and I'm so happy to represent them by playing their music on my radio show over on Speedway Radio. (yep, you know I'm gonna plug myself, too....hell...)

I also know they support all their other band friends in this industry, and that's HUGE. I always say, "there's enough sunshine for everybody" and I love that Hillbilly Casino embodies that truth as well.

And, hey, if you happen to see Chops McClintock out and about, for the love of all that's holy, please tell that man to accept Nic's phone call!

Kimber is the host of the #1 rated digital talk/rockabilly radio show, "Walking In Memphis With Kimber" on Speedway Radio, and shares her love of rockabilly, outlaw and retro country music with her listeners around the world in 119 countries. You can catch her in Memphis, hanging with her cat Waylon, and admiring her two tacky yet amazing Velvet Elvis paintings hanging prominently in her living room.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Elvis Presley, 42 Years Later....

Elvis Presley
"Elvis Presley". Those two words are guaranteed to elicit a response from anyone who hears them. Responses ranging from, "OMG, YES! The King of Rock n Roll!" to "Who?" to "Who cares?" Since I've built my career around my love of Elvis, I've heard 'em all. (By the way, Elvis did NOT like to be called "the King" of anything, but it's a title that, for better or worse, stuck.)

I've been a fan as far back as I can remember. Sitting here pondering it now, I don't think my dad was a true fan since his favorite joke was, "Hey, know what Elvis would say if he were alive right now? GET ME OUT OF THIS COFFIN!"(I'd get SOOOO mad, but my dad thought it was hysterical). He'd always, and I mean ALWAYS, make fun of Elvis any time he heard me listening to any of his music. My mom and step dad, however, were fans and I remember us watching VHS tapes on Friday nights of all sorts of Elvis Documentaries and concerts after he died, all throughout the '80's. We were ALL about the "he's still alive" conspiracies! LOL...oh what a simpler time we lived in. Now that I think about it, I THINK my mom and step dad rode his motorcycle from Arkansas to Graceland for their honeymoon. Hmmm, I'll have to ask my mom about that. They never had to worry about leaving me alone at home. I'd pop in the VHS tape of the "Aloha From Hawaii" Concert and stand in the living room singing along with every song, and mimicking his every move. I can STILL remember most of that concert by heart. (like, when he thumps the mic against his oh man, the look on his face when he did that.)  Here, let's admire his beautiful self from that concert, shall we?

Elvis, "Aloha From Hawaii" concert. Yummm
Back here in 2019, we just had the 42nd Annual Elvis Week here in Memphis, and fans came from all around the world to celebrate the life, legacy and music of Elvis. This year was interesting because he was 42 years old when he left this world, and now, here we are, 42 years since he passed, celebrating him. (I know, most NON-Elvis fans look at us like we've lost our ever lovin' minds.) Now, normally I'd be all up in the mix during Elvis Week, talkin' to folks for my radio show, but this year I decided to do something different. I still did an entire radio show devoted to Elvis, but I wanted to experience EW as a true fan again. The sparkle and allure of the annual festivities had been dulled by being on the "inside" these last several years and I wanted to get back to my roots, my actual fan girl side of participating in the celebrations. 

So, I went out and I sat and "people watched" during some fun events. It was fun. It was different. I won't lie, "public persona side" was dying! "Kimber" wanted to dress up, throw on the spotlight and dive headfirst into everything. When it was all said and done though, I'm so glad I took this year to "be a fan" and not work during the events.

There was only ONE event I had actually announced I would be attending, and as luck would have it, a really nasty storm popped up RIGHT AS I WAS GETTING in my car to head down to the Annual Elvis Week Pool Party at the Days' Inn at Graceland, hosted by my dear friend Colin Paul. The hotel is across the street from Graceland, and it is one of the HIGHLIGHTS of EW for so many folks, myself included. Colin is a MASSIVE Elvis fan (and of late singer Billy Fury, who was from the UK. Look him up, you'll love his music. While you're at it, look Colin up, too. He is an amazing entertainer and has a worldwide fan base, AND he performs the opener for my radio show! He has a great FB page, and a website you can check out, which is Colin has been hosting this pool party now for 13 years I believe, and this was the first time it's ever been rained out! He later told me one of his speakers was picked up and blown around by the wind. Told y'all it was a bad one! We did finally get to meet up and take our "Annual Elvis Week Photo" it is...

Kimber & Colin, EW2019, Memphis, TN
Anyway, letting my "fan girl" side resurface brought back a longing for the nostalgia of Elvis, and I found myself yearning for....Velvet Elvis Paintings. Yep, you read that right. No, I'm not crazy...much. I don't know what it was that sparked my deep down "gotta have it" craving for those tacky Velvet Elvis', but whatever it was, it hit me hard. So hard in fact, I put it out on Facebook-land that I wanted to start a collection and asked if anyone knew where I could find some. Y'all, OMG. I went on Amazon, Google, eBay, etc. But, let me say this before I continue to say that. When I was a kid, you couldn't go to ANY flea market or thrift store, etc, without being accosted by Velvet Elvis'. They were EVERYWHERE. Even the gas stations had them. They were a dime a dozen. NOT TODAY.  Shoot. The ones I did manage to find online were CRAZY EXPENSIVE. Yes, they were all originals, but still. WOW.  

As I was searching, I got a response on my FB post from the owner of The Elvis Pawn Shop (Jon Daly) here in Memphis. (go look at his site..., I know he would LOVE to have you check it all out and get some goodies for yourself. (He also buys Elvis memorabilia!))  Anyhooo, he said he thought he had some Velvet Elvis' in his warehouse and would happily meet me there to show me what he had. I did, he did, and I found EXACTLY what I was looking for (and OOOHHHHH so much more!). We made a deal. I came home with not one, but TWO Velvet Elvis' (because you can't break up a pair, amiright or AMIRIGHT?) and they are now taking their time sitting in different locations in my house until the most perfect place to get all cozy-like shows itself! He has more, and no, you can't have them because I'm gonna get them. LOL, ok, if you beat me to them, fine, but just know, I will find out and put a spell on ya. Nothing crazy, just like, intense hiccups for a day or something. :) Not really, I don't know how to put a spell on anyone, other than making folks laugh...and I can do that without even trying, dammit.

But look, LOOK at these glorious bastards!

Are they not THE most tacky, 70's-vibes, beautiful VELVET ELVIS', EVER?!!!  They are originals and their SMELL alone takes me back to my childhood in the 1970's and 1980's. Yeah, I want more. No, this didn't fix my craving one little bit. Hell, no. Now it's worse! Now, I want to find as many as I can and hang them up all over my office and home. Maybe it's the little girl in me rearing her cute lil button-nosed self, I don't know. All I know is, if any of YOU happen to have any you'd like to part with, send 'em my way! I'll happily adopt ALL the homeless Velvet Elvis'!

'Nuff said!

I SO got off topic. Elvis Week. 2019. 42 years later. So much has changed here in Memphis over that timeline, but one thing remains the same. Elvis STILL has a fan base of some of THE most devoted fans you will EVER meet in your entire life, and they will stop at NOTHING to come here to Memphis to take a walk through Graceland and all around the hallowed grounds, stopping to pay their respects at the Mediation Garden where he is now laid to rest. EPE has built a pretty impressive complex across the street from Graceland that now houses museums, cars, artifacts and so much more. The two airplanes are still across the street as well. There were rumors circulating they would be sold and moved, but nope, not going anywhere.


Graceland Complex

The Meditation Garden

So, anyways, EW 2019 is now over and done here in Memphis, but not to worry, our love of Elvis only grows deeper every year. He may have left the building, but his music, and the legacy of he life, lives on in all of our hearts!  Thank ya, thankyaverymuch.

This post is dedicated in loving memory to Ms. Louise Smith, who passed away on August 18, 2019.  She was married to Gene Smith, Elvis' cousin, and lived at Graceland for many years. She will be dearly missed by so many.
Kimber and Ms. Louise, 2018

...yes, I know I spelled her name wrong on the photo! :)
She would have laughed.