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The Lineup is Memphis music at its best

Mitch McCracken and David Kurtz
Mitch McCracken and David Kurtz
Janet Yates Raper

The Lineup is Memphis music at its best. For those of you who have been following Memphis music for a while will remember the name David Kurtz. David was in a group called The Next which later became Looker. Then of course there was the David Kurtz Band. David also opened for Chicago at Mud Island with just his acoustic guitar for accompaniment in 1991. So he has been around for a while.

David left years ago but has returned to Memphis in a big way. He has put together a new band called the Lineup. The band debuted at Neil’s a few months ago. Since then they have been making a few appearances here and there. I caught one of those performances this weekend and was blown away by what I saw. The Lineup is a very tight band that not only plays cover songs but original material as well. The original songs are well written and performed. The band itself is a “Lineup” of Memphis music pros who have played in various groups over the last few years.

The Lineup is

David Kurtz: Not just the lead singer and guitarist, he is their front man. There is a difference. David has the look of a rock star and performs like one as well. He is gracious on stage with the other band members, giving each their time to shine. On some songs he leaves the stage altogether.

Josh Haynes Lead Guitar: Josh has been a member of local bands such as Signs, Down2 Five, Carey Haynes, The Donnie Brunson Band and Larry Raspberry and The Highsteppers. I know of him mainly because of Pulse, the Pink Floyd tribute band and Grand Theft Auto Audio, a cover band. I was so impressed with Josh, not only for his guitar work which is beyond excellent but for his vocals as well. He sang on their cover of Survivor’s “High on You” and did a great job on it. David had left the stage and I had to search the group to see who was singing. The last person I looked at was Josh, I had no idea he could sing.

David Smith Bass: There are not enough words to explain how good I think David Smith is. I first became aware of him at the Pig (WMPS-FM) when I played Jonny Lang’s Lie to Me album. There were a few Memphis musicians on that album including David on Bass, Jack Holder on Rhythm Guitar and the late Tony Black on keys. David has also recorded with Billy Currington, Gene Watson, Ray Price and The Oak Ridge Boys. He plays with such an air of confidence, he’s as comfortable playing bass on stage as you and I would be walking down the street. He is also comfortable talking to and cutting up with the audience. He is a major asset to any band he’s in.

Kenny Long on Keyboard: Kenny is also a bandmate with Josh Haynes in Grand Theft Audio and brought Josh into the Lineup. Kenny also played with David in the David Kurtz Band back in 1988 and plays with Charlie Blacksmoke.

Pete Mendillo Drums: I don’t know a lot about Pete, I just met him but I do know he recorded and toured playing drums for one of my favorite groups, Savoy Brown for a while in the 80’s and 90’s. He has also recorded with Jimi Jamison and Bobby Rush.

Dan Ward Mixing: David Kurtz says Dan is the 6th member of the Lineup because of his excellent mixing and makes the band sound the way they do. Brandon Marlier of Marlier Lighting Designs also added a lot to the overall experience of the show.

“Mad About Your Love” is one of the originals they played. It was written years ago when David Kurtz was writing songs with Jimmy Griffin, Greg Reding and Sam Shoup. It’s a great song that needs to be recorded. They also did an original song called “It’s Already December” that’s equally as good. David Kurtz has a CD that is due to be released next month. Maybe both songs will be on it. I’ll keep you informed.

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