Tav Falco  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Tav Falco is an American-born musical performer, performance artist, actor, filmmaker, and photographer. He has led the psychedelic rock-and-roll group Tav Falco's Panther Burns (named after a plantation in Mississippi) since 1979. He moved to Europe in the late 1990s and sometimes tours with European musicians in recent incarnations of his Panther Burns group.

Born Gustavo Antonio Falco in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he later briefly adopted the last name of his stepfather and was known for a time as "Gus Nelson" before eventually choosing the stage name "Tav Falco." Falco was raised in Gurdon, Arkansas, and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1973. He started the nonprofit Televista "art-action" video group in Memphis to document local musicians and artists in the late 1970s with fellow Arkansas videographer/performance artist Randall Lyon. Falco and Lyon were both heavily influenced by the work of their mentor and friend, noted Memphis color photographer William Eggleston. After Alex Chilton was impressed by a 1978 performance of Falco's at The Orpheum in Memphis that culminated in the chainsawing of a guitar, the two teamed up to start the self-styled "art damage" band, Tav Falco's Panther Burns. The group recorded a first album for Rough Trade at Ardent Studios in Memphis, after a previous 1980 session for the label at Phillips Recording was temporarily shelved (later rereleased on Marilyn Records as The Unreleased Sessions in 1992).

Just as he began his early career documenting other artists using video photography, Falco devoted some of his musical career trying to bring attention to great traditional artists obscured from the media's view. He introduced their work to his audiences and to writers following his work by performing Panther Burns shows on billings with these artists, recording interpretations of their songs, and occasionally collaborating with some of them on projects for small record labels he's been associated with, like Au Go Go and New Rose. Among these artists were blueswoman Jessie Mae Hemphill and Charlie Feathers. Falco and Lux Interior of The Cramps worked on the photography and liner notes, respectively, for the 1982 Honky Tonk Man album by Feathers, whose energetic, hiccup-styled vocals from the 1950s influenced both vocalists. Others of his area music heroes who have performed at Panther Burns events include Cordell Jackson, R. L. Burnside, Mose Vinson, and Van Zula Hunt. While releasing numerous Panther Burns albums on small international indie labels, Falco also has co-released some recordings by his band and other Memphis-area artists on his own Frenzi label.

Falco has appeared as an actor with small parts in full length films like Great Balls of Fire! (1989 - USA), The Big Post Office Robbery (1992 - Hungary), Highway 61 (1991 - Canada), Downtown 81 (2001 - USA), and Wayne County Rambling (2002 - USA). Long a student of the tango under European and Argentine instructors, he also appeared in Dans Le Rouge du Couchant (2003 - France) as a tango dancer, choreographing his part in the film. Several short films he has appeared in, most of which he also produced and in some cases served as the filmmaker, have been shown in underground arts venues like The Horse Hospital in London. In 2003 six of Falco's short films were accepted and archived into the permanent collection of the Cinémathèque Française in Paris for future screening there. The short films archived are Love's Last Warning (1996), Born Too Late (1993), Helene of Memphis (1991), Memphis Beat (1989), Shadetree Mechanic (1986), and 71 Salvage (1971).

Falco has said his main artistic purpose is "to stir up the dark waters of the unconscious."





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tav Falco" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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