About a year ago, my buddy Slade Lewis and I were drinking beer — not an uncommon occurrence — and talking a little bit about this new novel I had just wrapped up called INFAMOUS. Slade is a terrific jazz musician who’s played in not only some top bands but has also has penned some first-rate scores for documentaries.
We both thought it would be pretty cool if we could somehow turn the idea of INFAMOUS into a throwback 1930s radio serial — like “Little Orphan Annie” but with more sex and violence. Slade plays bass in the Thacker Mountain Radio band — The Yalobushwackers — and brought the concept to the folks putting the show together.
They all loved the idea and several months ago, the serious work set in of me turning a novel into a radio script and the harder work of Slade arranging the music and also putting together an expanded house band to perform.
Well, last night after flying back into Memphis, I was able to see the full dress rehearsal and it is killer. The radio serial is quick and funny and the music just awesome. Musician Bryan Ledford — one of Mississippi’s best — helped Slade out with the show and performs a Jimmie Rodgers song as if he’s channeling the ole Singing Brakeman.
We have a terrific sexy Mae West number performed by beautiful and talented Clarissa Romano — who also plays Kathryn Kelly — and a bring-the-house-down, big, brassy and bold version of “Minnie the Moocher.” Jeff Calloway just nails the damn thing.
My part will be to introduce the show, tell the good folks a little bit about the bankrobbing/kidnapping couple — the Kellys — and their local connection to Memphis and Mississippi and then the show heads back in time to 1933 where everything is of the period.
If you can’t make it, I’ll make sure I post a link to the rebroadcast in the coming weeks. But if you’re anywhere in the MidSouth, it will definitely be worth the drive.
** Check out today’s Mississippi Daily Journal for more on INFAMOUS, including a trip the bank vault MGK robbed in 1932. Photos are from last-nigh