The story of Sam Phillips is the stuff of legend. In 1952, Phillips started Sun Records at his Memphis Recording Studio, a label that discovered a few artists you might have heard of; B.B King, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis. This year is the 60th anniversary of Sun Records and a group of Melbourne musicians got together to pay tribute to a time that changed music in Sun Rising: The Songs That Made Memphis.
Five super talented local musos gathered on stage in a genuine and detailed tribute to their favourite era of music live in front of a huge crowd at Northcote Social Club... Sounds good, right? It was. It was brilliant. First of all; this was no Vegas style nightly tribute show by burnt out fans. This was a show packed full of energy and passion, the set list was out of this world, on stage banter was hilarious and it was extremely educational even to those who felt they knew so much about early rock and roll.
The musicians share the vocal load. David Cosma took on his favourite-Elvis, Damon Smith absolutely nailed Jerry Lee Lewis and pure talent Danny Stain on lead guitar was surprisingly perfect as Johnny Cash. Cosma and Smith ran proceedings and were incredibly at ease on stage telling stories, engaging in banter and both did an incredible job filling the rathe large, blue suede shoes (sorry) of their idols.
There have been tribute shows in the past in honour of Sam Phillips and the Sun glory era, even as recently as the past year, but what sets Sun Rising: The Songs That Made Memphis apart is authenticity. You’ll hear no Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman here- no, no. You’ll hear his first recording (not necessarily his best work) Ooby Dooby. You won’t hear Elvis’ A Little Less Conversation; you’ll hear his first track, That’s Alright Mama. You won’t hear Hound Dog, you’ll hear Rufus Thomas Jnr’s Bear Cat; a track so similar it would cost Phillips thousands of dollars and more tragically, Elvis’ recording contract to cover the costs of the copyright law suit.
There were no kitschy impersonations; just musically intelligent renditions of classics. There wasn’t much not to love about this show, even patrons listening from the restaurant expressed jealously about missing out. The crowd was jubilant- moving, laughing, swing dancing and singing the entire show and one rather enthusiastic punter put it better than anyone as she screamed out in joy, “THIS HAS BEEN THE BEST NIGHT EVER!”