by Dan Ferguson
The City Champs
Electraphonic Records ER 105
Must be that Memphis water. Jonesing for some Booker T. & the MGs sound with a contemporary-ish edge without sacrificing the soulful swells of that trademark organ B3 underpinning? Well, The City Champs is the ticket. Based out of the Bluff City just like that aforementioned and legendary Stax instrumental combo, The City Champs on sophomore release The Set-Up hits the instrumental jazzy soul sweet spot time and again over the course of 11 tracks. As forward looking as it is throwback, The Set-Up is equal parts hearty party and after-hours with the lights low. Visit thecitychamps.com.
Stephanie Finch & The Company Men
((Belle Sound)) Records BS-007
The complement, in part, to the artistic muse of husband/band mate Chuck Prophet, from keyboards to background vocals to songwriting Stephanie Finch has always been a vital supporting member of the Prophet cast. A plain-voiced singer a bit remindful of Laura Cantrell, on her first solo release Cry Tomorrow Finch moves to the forefront presenting nine original songs along with a couple of covers all in the pop n' rock vein with twists and turns aplenty that should strike a chord with Prophet aficionadas as much as Brill Building pop lovers.
Stephanie Finch & The Company Men appear at the Narrows Center for the Arts on Saturday, November 6. They will open for other half, Chuck Prophet, and his Mission Express Band. Show time is 8 pm. Check out www.ncfta.org for information.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 - 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)