Tav Falco - biography
Tav FalcoPanther Burns


Tav Falco

"Tav Falco was post modern when postmodern wasn't cool. The singer-guitarist who has collaborated with filmmaker Kenneth Anger and rockabilly pioneer Charlie Feathers, has spent most of the past two decades crafting a revisionist pop culture history - one that seamlessly fuses the aesthetics of Dean Martin and Jerry Lee Lewis".
David Sprague - Variety

"We got the inimitable Tav Falco and the Panther Burns.
I have been listening to this stuff since his first LP Behind the Magnolia Curtain when Tav, along with The Cramps, turned a whole new generation onto the twisted pleasure of rock'n'roll. He's got everything… rock'n'roll, blues, tango, style in abundance and most important but never overrated SOUL"

Jason Pierce - Spiritualized

Like many of the musicians, scholars, carnies and flaneurs that inspired him, Tav Falco is a Southern provocateur grifting his audience with the ol' song and dance act before shuffling out the back door with a wink and a nod. His historico-musico revue, The Unapproachable Panther Burns, originated in 1979 at the nadir of Memphis' postmodern, post-Beale, post-Sun, post-Stax era, when the Mississippi River town had seemingly disappeared from the cultural map and shriveled into an obsolescent landmark. Only groups like the Dixie Flyers, Mud Boy and the Neutrons, Big Star and Panther Burns were intent to keep the fires burning with or without commercial success, and their contribution to experimental pop music, dirty rock'n'roll and the blues revival have been incalculable.

Tav Falco spent his formative years in the country near Whelen Springs, Arkansas, before landing in Memphis in the late 1960s. Co-founding with decadent poet Randall Lyon, the art action group TeleVista in which he worked alongside renowned photographer William Eggleston, Falco spent the next decade filming and photographing the city's legendary cadre of country blues and rockabilly musicians, artists, and politicians, expanding his lens to the outer realms of the Panther BurnsMississippi hill country and the Delta. In his travels he documented Sam Phillips, R.L.Burnside, Phineas Newborn, Jr., James Carr, Cordell Jackson and Jessie Mae Hamphill to name but a few. Tav Falco's HofnerThroughout his career in photography, video, film and music, Falco has merged the grainy portraiture of a gonzo documentarian with the spellbinding mythos of a backwoods raconteur. None is more illustrative of this raison d'être than the band he founded with fellow musician and Memphian enfant terrible Alex Chilton - The Unapproachable Panther Burns. A reference to an ol' Mississippi tall tale, Panther Burns was a large 19th century plantation outside of Greenville where legend had it a cunning panther stalked and terrorized the local population until it was corralled into a cane break and set aflame. According to witnesses, the screams coming from the panther were an unholy amalgam of animal lust and divine transubstantiation, which continue to curse the plantation.

Playing in the Memphis cotton loft - wood-lined structures Falco likened to a guitar sounding box - Panther Burns developed their own tone science and gut-bucket approach to musical forms. The unbridled Panther Burns shows, which often featured guests like Charlie Feathers and Jim Dickinson, became monumental, renegade events. Ever-committed to preserving indigenous music and furthering new and daring expression, in 1983 Falco and the Panther Burns founded Counter Fest, an annual festival showcasing the best and the worst of the Memphis arts underground. The band quickly became a favorite in New York City, as well, where No Wave was emerging at the time (with such bands as DNA, Walter Stedding, James White). Rough Trade Records enthused over the band and released Panther Burns's debut album The Magnolia Curtain in 1981.

After twelve LP and EP releases and countless globetrotting tours, Falco expatriated to Europe, where he found his most embracing audiences along the Seine and Danube rivers. The lure of the Mississippi was not far from his mind when he finally chose the river towns of Paris and Vienna as outposts of mother Memphis. The dramatic flair of his music has always colluded with cinema, and Falco was destined to step foot in its dream-factory. 2 Aug 2009In addition to his own expressionist-inspired films (Shadetree Mechanic (1986), Memphis Beat (1989), Born Too Late (1993), Masque of Hotel Orient (with Kenneth Anger, 1996), Urania Descending (2009)), Falco appeared in the unredeemed Jerry Lee Lewis biopic Great Balls Of Fire (1989) and portrayed the leader of a motorcycle gang in the award-winning rock'n'roll road movie Highway 61 (1993), riding his own vintage Norton motorbike. Similarly, Falco's interest in Latin sounds has evolved into an ardor for Argentina tango. Becoming a tango dancer himself, Falco is regularly gliding in baroque ballrooms of Vienna's many palaces and in the milongas of Paris and Buenos Aires. World we knew LPThe profound influence of tango is evident in Falco's albums, as woven through Shadow Dancer's songs of unrequited love, betrayal, and lost causes. As The New York Times has declared of unorthodox preservationist Falco, "(He) is a singer, guitarist and researcher of musical arcane who hasn't let his increasingly technical expertise and idiomatic mastery compromise the clarity of his vision."

Falco continues to perform with Panther Burns, appearing at events like the It Came From Memphis series at The Barbican Centre in London in 2005. Recent performances included 2006's Arthur Nights festival at the historic Palace Theater in Los Angeles, 2007's Fondation Cartier in Paris, 2008's headlining performance at the Strade Blu Festival in Tredosio, Italy, and 2009's Alternatilla Festival in Mallorca, Spain, and the Barreiro Rocks Festival in Lisbon 2010. He also appeared in By The Ways, a documentary film about color photographer William Eggleston, and enjoyed a retrospective of his films in April 2006 at the prestigious La Cinémathèque Française.

The newest release, CONJURATIONS: Séance for Deranged Lovers - just recorded in a secret studio in Saint Germain des Prés on Paris' left bak - is the definitive masterpiece of the Panther Burns. Refining the themes explored by the group over their career: unrequited love, betrayal, and lost causes, the new record is composed of all original songs. CONJURATIONS consummates Falco's vision as sounding like Marlene Dietrich under torture, evokes the phenomenal fires of the Panther Burns and is supported by a line-up of players devoted to the band over the past decade: Giovanna Pizzorno - drums; Grégoire Cat - guitar; Laurent Lanouzière - bass. Guests on the album include the elegant French producer Betrand Burgalat on harpsichord, and Olivier Manoury, maestro of the bandoneon. The new album is produced and released by Stag-O-Lee records. - Erik Morse 2010

 
 
 

 


Panther Burns actual line-up "devoted to the band over the last decade":

Tav Falco

Gregoire CAT - a distinguished and elegant guitarist who started his career behind the rock legend, Vince Taylor. He plays an orange Gretch and displays a mastery of various styles. He makes his home in Paris. Giovanna Pizzorno - Giovanna Pizzorno - drummer on numerous Panther Burns tours in North America and Europe. She is a stunning performer & a sparkling personality on stage. She learned her craft under Tav's direction in Memphis. Giovanna now lives in Rome. Laurent Lanouzière - the youngest and newest member of the band, he plays a Gibson bass and is devoted to the mystique of the group... representing the future generation of Panther Burns fans.

Tav Falco

Gregoire CAT

Giovanna Pizzorno

Laurent Lanouzière


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