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VOL. 126 | NO. 114 | Monday, June 13, 2011

Caravan Turns to Youth for ‘Blow Out’

JONATHAN DEVIN | Special to The Memphis News

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Beale Street Caravan will celebrate the legacy of Memphis blues this month by highlighting the success of one of the genre’s younger rising stars.

The fourth annual Beale Street Caravan Blow Out will be held June 16 at Ardent Studios featuring the talents of The Will Tucker Band. The entire evening will be recorded live to be aired this fall.

The Will Tucker Band, an up-and-coming face in the world of Memphis blues, will perform June 16 at the fourth annual Beale Street Caravan Blow Out at Ardent Studios.

(Photo: Courtesy of Will Tucker)

“Whoever comes will be part of a radio program that will be aired all over the world,” said Sid Selvidge, Memphis music legend and executive producer of Beale Street Caravan. “If you ever wanted to be in showbiz, this is your chance.”

Beale Street Caravan, a nonprofit, hour-long radio broadcast, features all live-recorded music from festivals and concerts focusing on the blues or other Memphis-style derivatives.

Local artists and experts on music discuss the music or themes in series of several weeks.

Locally, the show broadcasts on WEVL, WUMR and WYPL, but the show is hit with 285 stations across the U.S. and even more in Europe, Africa and Australia. About 2.4 million listeners tune in via satellite worldwide.

Forty original shows are produced each year on a lean budget of only $200,000 and the efforts of two full-time employees.

The Blow Out raises more than $20,000 each year to benefit the program and gives Selvidge a chance to expose new talent to donors and patrons.

“(Tucker) is just another example of how deep the music goes in this community, when a young man comes out and does his homework, works real hard, and puts on a good show,” Selvidge said. “He’s going to be fun to watch.”

Tucker started playing guitar at age 12 and joined a band at 14. Now at 17, he’s already performed onstage with Charlie Musselwhite, G. Love and Special Sauce, and the Beach Boys with John Stamos.

(Artwork: Courtesy of Beale Street Caravan)

Tucker plays weekends at B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street and has opened for King five times. He’s produced one CD, “Stealin’ the Soul,” at Ardent Studios in 2009 and is working on a second release.

Selvidge said there’s a hidden message in bringing in such a young performer for one of Beale Street Caravan’s signature events.

“We like to expose young bands to our funders so they’ll see it’s not just a bunch of old folks,” he said.

But Beale Street Caravan doesn’t seem to be in danger of losing its audience any time soon. At the beginning of June, it finished wrapping up its 14th season.

The show began in 1996 as a division of The Blues Foundation but separated and became its own entity in 2000.

The focus on live recordings distinguishes the program from others, Selvidge said, because the occasional slip-ups and goofs are heard just as a live audience would hear them.

“I think in this day and time when anyone can make a perfect record, we’re starting to appreciate more and more that these people are out there performing and they’re either good or their not,” he said.

Ardent Studios was chosen as the Blow Out venue due its connection with the Blues and Memphis music in general.

“A lot of Blues acts have recorded there,” Selvidge said. “B.B. King, Stevie Ray VaughnJim Gaines has produced a lot of blues acts over there and continues too, so it’s a historic studio in Memphis and it’s still turning out the music.”

Will Tucker will play with four or five members of his own band. Tickets cost $75 and include food, an open bar and a silent auction. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling 527-4666.

“It’s not us, it’s the music,” Selvidge said. “I think it shows the power of Memphis music in its derivative forms. It’s very viral and alive. People appreciate it all over the world so if you love Memphis, this is a way to honk your horn.”

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