SXSW 2009: Craig Brewer Makes Memphis A Genre

By Andrew Ross Rowe

If one man was to build a completely new musical genre, they would have to be pretty talented. Craig Brewer, the man behind films like “Hustle and Flow” and “Black Snake Moan,” which positively seep with the music of the South — both old and new — is probably the man to produce it.

Brewer’s new Memphis-based Web series $5 Cover exposes the nitty-gritty heart of a town with music flowing through its aorta. “I’d like to believe that Memphis should be a genre itself” Brewer points out.

This is not such an easy task when your town cradles rock acts like Lucero, hip-hop acts like Al Kapone and noirish crooners like Amy LaVere. How can so many genres co-exist as one?

“The $5 Cover show is really about Memphis. Yeah we have rap and yeah, we have rock and roll. And we have singer song writers, but I really like to believe that Memphis itself should be a genre. … It’s more of the spirit of the city is reflected in the sound.”

But what is it about Memphis that really binds these musicians together?


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“I knew a lot of these musicians before my career took off” Brewer explains. “They’ve never really had much money.”

And with limited coin in their pockets, budding musicians that want to play out have to ask for a nominal fee. “I think there’s a special time in every musician’s life where they go from just playing in their house, to saying ‘I think I am going to play for people.’ ”

Hence the show name: $5 Cover. “You’re not too green, but you’re not necessarily selling out stadiums.”

MTV News will be all over the South by Southwest festival this week, with blogs, articles and video on all the gigs, the artists and the scene!