Jody Stephens, the drummer for the legendary band Big Star, kindly agreed to let me tag along Sept. 30, 2016, on a private tour he was giving at Ardent Studios — the Memphis recording studio where Big Star made its classic records, along with countless other artists over the years, including the Replacements and R.E.M. Ardent is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Stephens works as Ardent’s business development director — and he’s still active as a musician, writing and singing some lovely songs in the vein of Big Star’s acoustic ballads, on the self-titled album of his new band, Those Pretty Wrongs.
Stephens showed us through the studios, amiably chatting about the equipment and the people who have played inside those walls. “Playing music together is kind of like recipes,” he remarked at one point. “Everybody has their own ingredients for what they put in.” Discussing the best place to put the drums in a room, he said, “Everybody has a different idea of where the sweet spot is.”
That neon big star in the reception area isn’t the one that was used on the cover of Big Star’s Radio City — it’s a replica. But Jody’s the real thing.
My roundup of Gonerfest and my visit to Memphis
More Gonerfest 2016 photo galleries:
Day 1 — opening ceremonies at Cooper Young Gazebo (Nots) and nighttime show at Hi Tone (emcee Jim Dandy, Hash Redactor, Chook Race, Counter Intuits, Useless Eaters, Fred & Toody, Reigning Sound)
Day 2 daytime party at Memphis Made Brewing (LSDOGS, Kool 100s, Trampoline Team, Pity)
Day 2 nighttime show at Hi Tone (Opposite Sex, Aquarian Blood, Power, Buck Biloxi, Blind Shake, Black Lips)
Day 3 daytime party at Murphy’s (Casual Burn, Bloodbags, Fire Retarded, Archie & The Bunkers, Iron Head, Zerodent, Oh Boland, Bloody Show, The World, Spray Paint)
Day 3 nighttime show at Hi Tone (emcee Tom Scharpling, Couteau Latex, Sick Thoughts, Bloodshot Bill, Control Freaks, Midnight Snaxxx, Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds)