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Tav Falco and The Unapproachable Panther Burns, Bonnie Montgomery

By Lindsey Millar

8:30 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.

Klaus Pichler

Once upon a time in Memphis, after Elvis, well past the heydays of Sun and Stax, when the city was full of ghosts and forgotten by mass culture, Gurdon native Tav Falco ran around making arty documentaries and taking pictures with William Eggleston. He started an “art action group” with Arkansas poet Randall Lyon. For instance (as recounted by Falco in his book “Ghosts Behind the Sun: Splendor, Enigma & Death: Mondo Memphis Volume 1” and quoted by Robert Gordon in the Oxford American):

[At the University of Arkansas,] I appeared with a huge EYE painted on my chest, wearing a black top hat with a large gold hat band emblazoned with the logo that read: FUCK OFF. . . . The finale featured a blond Venus from the art department elevated on an artist model’s dais, wrapped only in a full-length mink coat, which she flamboyantly shed at the appointed moment. Chaos broke loose in the steamy room, but at the height of the frenzied ovation, a posse of city police and sheriff’s deputies came crushing through the front entrance, somehow tipped off that our so-called, and by now notorious, “mime troupe” was performing in the nude. As the fuzz came in through the front entrance, our troop managed to hightail it out the back door, down the fire escape and out into the frosty night air of Washington County—some of us never to return.

He also, most relevant to this write-up, started The Unapproachable Panther Burns with Alex Chilton of Boxtops and Big Star fame. Here’s an early TV performance on “Straight Talk with Marge Thrasher” that was supposed to have something to do with the King Cotton Parade.

Stick around for Memphis legend Thrasher saying, “That may be the worst sound I’ve ever heard come out of a television.” And for Falco introducing Chilton, who clearly thinks everything is hilarious, as “Axl Chitlin.”

Falco once told Robert Gordon that when it came to music, “It was the feeling and aesthetic that mattered, more than musicianship or virtuosity.” Decades later, that still seems to be Falco’s operating principle.

The hardest working woman in country music (at least in Texas and Arkansas), Bonnie Montgomery, opens the show.




May 21, 2019
1:30 am - 4:30 am
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