A look into the life of Taylor Negron— actor, comedian, and telephone message hoarder— told through the voicemails on his machine. We produced this piece with with Taylor’s dear friend producer Valerie Velardi in 1999 as part of the Lost & Found Sound series on NPR. Taylor died on January 10, 2015. We present this story in his honor.
Sam Phillips and the Early Years of the Memphis Recording Service
Before Elvis walked through the door, before Sun Studios put Memphis on the map—Sam Phillips, a young man with a tape recorder, lived by the motto, “We Record Anything, Anywhere, Anytime.” Weddings, funerals, marching bands, the Miss Memphis Pageant—Sam recorded them all—anything to keep his fledgling Memphis Recording Service open to record Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Little Junior, Ike Turner, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley. The raw and rocking, unrecorded music of the 1950s South.
Like the most glorious Star Wars marathon, or an extensive bout of food poisoning, our Musical Monday blog series has run its course and has reached its end.
Needless to say, there are still countless incredibly talented female musicians in the Bay Area, and our intern Max remains eager to tell their stories, and others, as he continues to learn and create both audio and written pieces for us. For the time being, his hipster talons remain lodged in our office.
Thanks for reading!
Some band names manage to sound pretty cool and ominous even if you have no idea what the heck they’re referring to, like Talking Heads, Beach House or The Men; there’s also a category of band names that take aim straight for your gut, like Diarrhea Planet or Fucked Up. But then there are bands whose names shine light on something more profound in their music; Bells Atlas is one of those bands.
The Oakland four-piece composes constellations of sound; layers and layers of percussion (including bells) that intertwine with melodic guitar lines and syncopated bass parts. In the middle of it all is Sandra Lawson-Ndu, whose fluid voice furls and unfurls, drawing you in and guiding you through the organized chaos. On standout track “Video Star,” the addition of a xylophone and backing vocals add to the swirling, hypnotic sound.
This past July Bells Atlas wrote and recorded a handful of new songs during a residency at Oakland’s Zoo Labs Studios. Each Monday this month, the band will be testing them out during a series of shows at Oakland’s ERA Bar, with a rotating cast of special guests.
Watch Bells Atlas play “Video Star,” and a short teaser on their residency at Zoo Labs, below.