TALKING with a PANTHER
Wild, rough, raw and unstoppable, Panther Burns have carved a crazed route through rockabilly, punk, blues and more. Kris Needs talks to main man Tav Falco
Few figures to emerge from post-punk’s anarchic musical battle-boudoir have charted such an intensely idiosyncratic or enigmatic path as Tav Falco, aka Panther Burns. Roaring out of the late 70s Memphis underground art scene, mentored by local legends Alex Chilton and Jim Dickinson, they oozed Southern gothic hoodoo and rockabilly energy, hotwiring early US musical styles such as blues, country and rock’n’roll with Falco’s escalating panoramic spectrum of artistic influences and substrates such as his expressionist-influenced movie-making and tango dancing.
Initially, Falco seemed to be carrying a flaming torch for the Southern tradition of stage act as medicine show ritual. Charged by an eternal spirit derived from the same arcane poltergeist that has shot its metaphysical load through every trailblazing musical form since time began, Falco calls it “the fire”. Harnessing its rampant essence, he napalms old songs known and unknown, in the process spotlighting artists deserving of tribute or just recognition, including the likes of Charlie Feathers, Mac Rice, RL Burnside, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bobby Lee Trammell, Lee Hazelwood, Doc Pomus, Cordell Jackson and Sonny Burgess; either through covering their songs or sharing stages together.
Appearing in the early 80s post-Cramps flood of US roots marauders such …
by Kris Needs
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