The cover art of 1372 Overton Park features a photo of its perpetrators, the Memphis band Lucero, one barefoot, strolling across a street, obviously emulating the cover of Abbey Road. Except the clever Lucero are less likely to be paying tribute to the Beatles than to Booker T and the MGs, who once walked in similar fashion across the cover of McLemore Avenue, a few blocks south of Overton Park and the locale of iconic Stax Studios. The reference is notable because Lucero infuse their raucous, trademark blend of punkish rock 'n' roll and country with a fresh dose of classic Memphis soul on Overton Park, also their major-label debut. It's most evident in the blazing horns sparked by Memphis session vet Jim Spake, but also in guitar and organ riffs derived from Steve Cropper and Booker T. Jones. Raspy-voiced singer and songwriter Ben Nichols, meanwhile, offers another memorable cast of down-and-out characters grappling to get by, many who would share a natural kinship with those created by Steve Earle, Tom Waits, and Bruce Springsteen. Their "heroes are the losin' kind," they "can't feel a thing" but "can't take the pain," and they're doing pretty well if they "can just get out alive." The ragged glory of Lucero's music just might be the elixir they need. Opening will be former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell and his 400 Unit. Isbell also writes vividly of the demons afflicting Southern towns and Southern souls, while tapping an array of Southern idioms from Skynyrd to Muscle Shoals and on into Memphis too.
Sat., July 31, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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