June 29th, 2007: We arrived at the Madison Flame for our sound check. The club interior had remained somewhat the same. It still smelled like The Antenna: air-conditioned flat pilsner bathed in cathode ray - with a touch of bleach. The basic rectangle of stage at one end and bar at the other ("The way a club ought to be" said John Beifuss) had no P.A. so Thin White Trash provided one. The old stage was missing too, replaced by a flat riser that spread the entire width of the club which gave one lots of roaming space. The old backstage area was boarded up and inaccessible. Bartender Carol (the co-owner) asked if we would come back on a regular basis (!). I took this as a good sign since she had never heard us before - and we had not yet performed our sound check ("too loud, we took down the egg cartons!" said Carol). We looked good for a first gig - and felt butterflies. But butterflies are good. I had surrounded myself with talent, incredible good looking Midtown Memphis Punk Rock Talent:

'King's Den' on drum, 'O.J.' on keyboards, 'Lipstick Pickup' on Sax, 'Cello Biafra' on (you guessed it) but he also doubled with 'Lipstick' on bass guitar. 'Betty Butcher' on singing and nice shoes. 'Johnny Oddsblood' on lead guitar. "Thin White Trash" on nervous rhythm. ('Lipstick' had shared the stage with 'Johnny O' some decade and a half before - but in different bands: She as Elvilie Parsley, He as HELVIS. both twisted Deathweek impersonators)

It was me and Johnny what stumbled into The Antenna club back in 1983 to a sensory overload of the Pistols playing on the many TV screens that adorned the Antenna back then. It was the only way for some to see rock and roll videos. Just because MTV had just started didn't mean you were gonna get the Ramones 24-7. Hardly not at all. Johnny and I played the old Antenna fifteen years earlier and this was our return. Not nostalgia, but an observation on never ending self-creation and a nod to the inner history of a blighted urban area that created rock and roll. So what if CBGB's was the first. Nothing ever happens until it happens in the South.

Before this place was the Antenna Club it was the Well (the Ramones played the Well), and before that it was the Psych Out Club in the sixties. In the nineties it fell through many capable hands, always a club, and then a lady named Sharon opened it as the Madison Flame in the late nineties. Ross Johnson, venerable Memphis musician who has played with the likes of the Malverns, Jeff Evans, Jon Spenser, and Tav Falco, is writing a shelved book on the Antenna Club. Never ending self-creation.

Our show seemed more like an event in more ways than one. Other key musicians were also on board: The Limes and Sector Zero line-ups read like a back story on Midtown Memphis Music post-Oblivians. There was no other show to attend that night. Postal, Perry, and Pickle took pictures. Patt and Gray shot video that may eventually see the light of day. Johnny O said we should release a live tape called "Dyk-otomy". We had a huge crowd, a great time. Some came to hear a Bowie influence when I was shooting more for atmosphere and historical reference; a "personal Bowie". Betty looked for praise in a sea of hipsters who's jaws were agape and could not speak. Joanne appeared, lit on beer and candles, with a birthday cake for King's Den and Betty. We waited for an reprise in the toilet since there is no backstage. We did 'Possibilities' for an encore, much sloppier and better than George and I had done it fifteen years before.
Some Kind Of Monster
Black Ray of Sunshine
End Of A Knife
Glam Lies
Strangers From Above
Candy's Dead
Four Arms to Hold You
Possibilities (encore)

GLAM TRUTH: A week later I called Sharon (owner of the Flame) and she was beside herself! She claims to have made 12 thousand dollars at the bar! That comes out to something like two hundred beers a person. It was then that I realized that our door guy had lied about the money (JUST KIDDING, LEE!). Based on the success of the single show, Sharon wanted to know if I could help her re-invent the club as a music venue again, and specifically - as the Antenna Club. This was flattering if not a little overwhelming and improbable. I called drummer/writer Ross Johnson "what a great last chapter of the book!" to see if he could hook up the former Antenna owner (Steve McGhee) with Sharon to have a beer at his old punk rock bar ... and that's how it stands. Not bad for a first gig. We await their 'malt-a summit'.

NEWS FLASH! On the week of July 23, 2007 a big sign is posted on the front of the Madison Flame: FOR LEASE!

Our show was written about by Andria Lisle at the Memphis Flyer and by film critic John Beifuss in the Playbook.

Brian Dixon designed our show print and Jay Crum printed the posters.

Text by Thin White Trash - Fotos by Don Perry

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