Memphis Flyer, October 14 - 20, 1999

Head Zeppelin
Supergroups A+ gets extra credit.


Our Own Voice, a theatre troupe dedicated to presenting art shaped by the unique perspectives of actors and writers who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, has once again produced an utterly baffling and ultimately beguiling evening of inspired performance weirdness. Supergroups A+ (Drool But Drool Employed Unemployed Mississippi River Musical in a Way Confidence You Can Be Happy Love Musical) is not so much a rock musical as it is a rock-and-roll show, framed by improvisational bits and augmented by some simple choreography. For lack of a better description, it is way cool.

Written by frequent OOV contributor Randy Wayne Youngblood, Supergroups’ seemingly random nonsequitors gain in resonance and texture, telling stories through juxtaposition even when the narrative becomes incomprehensible.

OOV director Bill Baker has organized his very own super-band from Memphis’ fertile art/garage rock circles to perform Youngblood’s epic R&R fantasy. Tripp Lamkins (Grifters, Champ, Total Strangers) and Joey Pegram (611, Professor Elixir, Joint Chiefs) together composed all of the show’s music, and their fuzzy guitars blend to create something that sounds like Alex Chilton kissing Thin Lizzy goodnight. Lovely Lori Gienapp (Ultra Cats) mixes her fat bass lines with drummer Stuart “Lord Baltimore” Sikes’ steady-now, showy-later licks. Elizabeth Bainbridge (1/2 the Continentals) provides backing vocals (her throat does for the note what Marilyn Chambers’ did for the, well … you know), and Kimberly Baker (who recently performed at the Mid-South Fair when Rick Springfield unexpectedly pulled her up on stage) delivers sturdy lead vocals and extra-plus-great group hugs.

Lamkins and Pegram have shaped Youngblood’s difficult poesy into a program of straight-up rockers and certifiable pop gems. The fact that Lamkins and Pegram, two local musicians whom I have known and whose work I have followed for the better part of a decade, can still surprise and impress the pants off me is a true testament to their ability. In the encore, when Baker and Bainbridge sing, “Don’t ever put me in a box,” it is not cursing the grave a la Beckett, neither is it the voice of youthful protest or the whine of a stifled artist. It is all of these things, as well as the expressed fears of a man who has indeed been placed in one — and got the hell out.