TAV FALCO'S PANTHER BURNS
Born in Philadelphia and raised in Arkansas, Tav Falco moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1973 and introduced himself to the city’s creative community as a filmmaker and performance artist while supporting himself with a variety of odd jobs. While making documentary films on blues artists in Tennessee and Mississippi (including a piece on R.L. Burnside shot at his legendary juke joint in 1974), Falco was inspired to pick up the guitar, though his first on-stage performance with the instrument involved him destroying a six-string with a chain saw.
In 1979, Falco put together the first version of his band the Panther Burns (named for a famous Tennessee plantation), a group whose revolving membership included Alex Chilton and James Luther Dickinson in its early incarnations. In 1981, Falco recorded his first album, Behind the Magnolia Curtain, which also included performances by Othar Turner & His Fife and Drum Band. The album won favorable critical notices, and Falco relocated to New York City, where he brought his frenetic roots music to the Big Apple’s then-thriving no wave scene, which led to Falco’s first and only major-label release, Blow Your Top, a 1982 EP issued by Chris Stein’s Animal label. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Falco began dividing his time between Europe and the United States, and released a slow but steady stream of recordings with shifting Panther Burns lineups while holding down another career as an actor. He was featured in small roles in Great Balls of Fire, Wayne County, Downtown 81, and Highway 61.
Panther Phobia Panther Burns issued their debut recording for the new century, Panther Phobia, in 2000. The group played festivals throughout the century’s first decade, most notably at the It Came from Memphis series at the Barbican Centre in London in 2005, 2006’s ArthurNIGHTS festival at the historic Palace Theatre in Los Angeles, 2007’s Fondation Cartier in Paris, 2008’s headlining performance at the Strade Blu Festival in Tredozio, Italy, 2009’s Alternatilla Festival in Mallorca, Spain, and the Barreiro Rocks Festival in Lisbon in 2010. Falco also studied the tango — the music has been a lifelong obsession for him — in both Argentina and France, culminating in his role as a tango dancer in the French film Dans le Rouge du Couchant in 2003. In addition to acting in films, Falco produced and directed a number of short works, five of which were added to the official archive in Paris’ Cinematheque Française in 2006.
Falco had politics and history on his mind when the band entered the studio in 2017; they cut a series of originals and covers from 80 years of American popular music in response to U.S. president Donald Trump whom the bandleader dubbed “The Puppet Head Orangutan of Malignant Rage.” Titled Cabaret of Daggers, the set included the originals “Red Vienna” (co-written with Monterosso), that recounts the history of fascism’s rise in Italy. Franz Ferdinand, Leon Trotsky, Sigmund Freund, and Gustav Klimt also find their way into the lyric, to warn modern-day listeners against the rise of similar authoritarian politicking across the world stage. Also featured are a studio version of the live hit “New World Blues” and reinvented jazz covers of “Born to Be Blue” (a Chet Baker vehicle) and Billie Holiday’s iconic “Strange Fruit.” Cabaret of Daggers was released on Black Friday/Record Store Day in November 2018. -Mark Deming of All Music
RICHARD LLOYD OF TELEVISION
Best known for his work with the ground-breaking group Television, Richard Lloyd is a strikingly gifted guitarist who has created an impressive body of work both as a frontman and as a collaborator with other musicians. Capable of bold, angular patterns as well as elegant, languid melodic lines, Lloyd first found acclaim for his work on Television's first two albums, Marquee Moon (1977) and Adventure (1978). Lloyd's solo career took a while to take off as he struggled with personal demons, but with 1985's Field of Fire, a highly personal and explosive set, he reaffirmed his status as a major talent. Lloyd impressed audiences as a sideman in his work with John Doe (1990's Meet John Doe) and Matthew Sweet (1991's Girlfriend and 1993's Altered Beast), and he helped to revive the influential pre-punk band Rocket from the Tombs with a series of live shows as well as the 2003 album Rocket Redux. And in the 2000s and 2010s, Lloyd put a new emphasis on his solo career with albums such as The Cover Doesn't Matter (2000), The Jamie Neverts Story (2009), and Countdown (2018).
Richard Lloyd was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 25, 1951. Developing an interest in music as a youngster, Lloyd started out as a drummer, taking lessons from noted percussionist William Kessler. However, when Lloyd saw the Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, he fell in love with rock & roll, and as he dug deeper into the work of the British Invasion artists then dominating Top 40 radio, he became more aware of the jazz and blues musicians who influenced them. Lloyd quit the drums to take up the guitar, and in the late '60s, he became friends with Velvert Turner, a fellow guitarist who was mentored by the legendary Jimi Hendrix. Turner passed along what he had learned from Hendrix to Lloyd, and Lloyd also soaked up plenty of other influences, attending shows by the likes of Led Zeppelin, John Lee Hooker, the Who, Jeff Beck, the Grateful Dead, and the Allman Brothers Band. Lloyd also had a knack for getting backstage at shows, and he often had a chance to meet and compare notes with guitarists he admired. Deciding the guitar was where his future lay, Lloyd began taking his guitar with him to high school every day instead of his books. He eventually had to repeat his senior year at a different school, where he became friends with Al Anderson, another guitarist who would go on to play with Bob Marley.
After spending time in Boston and Los Angeles, in 1973 Lloyd settled in New York City after hearing about the New York Dolls and believing that the city's rock scene held promise. Lloyd shared an apartment with Terry Ork, an artist and music fan who did silk screening at Andy Warhol's Factory and also worked at Cinemabilia, a bookstore devoted to material on movies. One of Ork's co-workers at Cinemabilia was Richard Meyers, an aspiring writer and musician who, using the stage name Richard Hell, was playing in a band called the Neon Boys. Ork believed the band needed a second guitarist, and he introduced Lloyd to Hell and his bandmates Tom Verlaine (aka Tom Miller) and Billy Ficca. The Neon Boys evolved into the band Television, and they landed a Sunday night residency at CBGB, a club that had opened on New York's Bowery. The guitar interplay between Lloyd and Verlaine became Television's hallmark, and Television began attracting larger crowds as a new music scene began growing out of the Bowery club, which would come to be known as punk rock, even though Television's music sounded very different than the fast-loud attack of groups like the Ramones. Word began to spread about the band, and in 1975 Television recorded a demo tape with Brian Eno producing. No labels opted to sign Television, and Hell soon left the band, with Fred Smith, formerly of Blondie, took over on bass. Later in 1975, Ork founded the Ork Records label to release Television's debut single, "Little Johnny Jewel," which spread the word about the band far outside New York City, and in 1976, they landed a deal with Elektra Records.
Television's debut album, Marquee Moon, was released in February 1977, and was a major critical success, and the band toured extensively in support. April 1978 saw the release of Television's second studio album, Adventure, which was also well-liked by critics but didn't live up to commercial expectations. The failure of Television to break through commercially, coupled with creative differences within the band, led them to break up in July 1978, and Lloyd soon launched a solo career. Lloyd released a solo album in 1979, Alchemy, and the title track received airplay on alternative rock outlets. However, sales were unimpressive, and personal problems sidelined Lloyd for several years. In 1985, he struck a deal with a Swedish label, Mistlur Records, and cut an album with a handful of Scandinavian musicians. The results, Field of Fire, was a critical success and sold well in the United States as an import before the Moving Target label made it available in an American edition. In 1987, Lloyd issued Real Time, a live album recorded at CBGB that featured songs from his tenure with Television as well as his solo career.
In 2007, Lloyd announced that he was severing his ties with Television to focus on his own projects; the group continued to perform on occasion, with Jimmy Rip taking Lloyd's place in the group. In 2010, Lloyd completed the album Lodestones, and made it available as a digital download. 2016 brought the release of another solo effort, Rosedale; Lloyd handled most of the instrumental work himself, though it also included contributions from Television drummer Billy Ficca, as well as Chris Frantz, formerly of Talking Heads. In 2017, Lloyd published his autobiography, Everything Is Combustible, with paperback and e-book editions arriving the following year. In 2018, Lodestones was given a limited-edition reissue on vinyl for Record Store Day, and in October of that year, Lloyd followed it with the album Countdown, recorded during two days of sessions in Nashville. When not busy with writing, recording, and performing, Lloyd offers guitar lessons both in person and via the internet; he's also written an instructional column for Guitar World magazine.