Amy LaVere brings solid Memphis sound to San Francisco’s Cafe Du Nord 

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We would be seriously remiss if we didn’t remind you of a great new Memphis artist playing Cafe Du Nord tonight — Amy LaVere, backing her hard-won new third album “Stranger Me,” inspired (and shrouded by) the recent death of her longtime mentor/producer Jim Dickinson and her breakup with her boyfriend/drummer Paul Taylor.

It was Dickinson who first taught her to believe in her singing voice — a unique chimpunk-toned flutter for which she apologizes in one concert-taped video: “I’m not a loud singer — you’re just gonna have to listen harder.” And her taste is unique, as well — she plays standup bass live, and even covered Captain Beefheart’s “Candle Mambo” this time around.

And if LaVere looks a tad familiar when you see her tonight, well, blame it on her busy side career as a film-and-TV actress.

She got the part of Wanda Jackson in the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk The Line,” and she also played Jesse in the wicked “Black Snake Moan.” She also starred in Craig Brewer’s Memphis-set series “$5 Cover,” which featured real musicians anchoring all the acting roles.

Has she bounced back from her depression? A moot point — LaVere is headed straight for stardom, and nothing can stop her now. See if you don’t agree at

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Tom Lanham

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