Tav Falco

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Tav Falco
Tav falco holger lang.jpg
Tav Falco in Lloseta, Majorca 2009 Photographer: Holger Lang
Gustavo Antonio Falco

(1945-05-25) May 25, 1945 (age 75)
  • musician
  • performance artist
  • film maker
  • photographer
  • actor
Years active1973–present

Gustavo Antonio "Tav" Falco (born May 25, 1945) 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. Since 2002, he has been touring with his new Panther Burns group, which includes musicians from Paris and Rome.


Falco was born in Philadelphia,[1] and grew up in rural southwest Arkansas[2] between Whelen Springs and Gurdon.[3] After studying theater and film at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Falco moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1973.[2] In the mid-1970s, he started the nonprofit Televista "art-action" video group in Memphis[3] to create art and to document local musicians and artists in with fellow Arkansas poet/performance artist/videographer Randall Lyon.[4] While in Televista, Falco worked with and trained in photography and filmmaking under Memphis color photographer William Eggleston.[3][4]

Impressed by a 1978 performance of Falco's at The Orpheum in Memphis that culminated in the chain sawing of an electric guitar,[2] Alex Chilton teamed up with Falco.[5][6] They developed the self-styled "art damage" band Tav Falco's Panther Burns.[7] The group recorded a first album, entitled Behind The Magnolia Curtain, for Rough Trade Records[6] at Ardent Studios in Memphis.[8] Their previous 1980 session for the label at Phillips Recording was temporarily shelved (later re-released in 1992 on Marilyn Records as The Unreleased Sessions).[9]

Falco devoted some of his musical career highlighting great traditional artists who had not gained media attention.[10] 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 has been associated with, such as Au Go Go[5] and New Rose.[10] Among these artists were blueswoman Jessie Mae Hemphill and rockabilly pioneer 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. Both younger vocalists had been inspired by Feathers' exuberant, hiccup-styled vocals of the 1950s. Falco has invited such musicians as Cordell Jackson, R. L. Burnside, Mose Vinson, and Van Zula Hunt to perform at this Panther Burns concerts. Falco has released numerous Panther Burns albums on small international indie labels. He also has co-released some recordings by his band and other Memphis-area artists on his own Frenzi label.

Work in Films[edit]

Falco has appeared as an actor with small parts in the films Great Balls of Fire! (1989 – USA),[6] A nagy postarablás (1992 – Hungary),[11] Highway 61 (1991 – Canada),[6] Downtown 81 (2001 – USA),[12] and Wayne County Rambling (2002 – USA).[13] Long a student of the tango under Argentine masters,[14] he appeared in Dans Le Rouge du Couchant (2003 – France) as a tango dancer,[3] and choreographed his part in the film.[14] He has appeared in several short films, most of which he produced, and in some cases served as the filmmaker. These have been shown in underground arts venues such as The Horse Hospital in London and Silencio in Paris.

In 2003,[3] six[14] of Falco's short films were accepted and archived into the permanent collection of the Cinémathèque Française in Paris. Among the titles archived are Masque Of Hôtel Orient (1996),[15] Born Too Late (1993), Helene of Memphis (1991), Memphis Beat (1989), Shadetree Mechanic (1986), and 71 Salvage (1971).[14] A selection of Falco's short films were shown in a retrospective at the Cinémathèque Française in 2006.[15]

Falco's first feature film, Urania Descending, was completed in 2014.[16] The film was presented by Anthology Film Archives, New York; Roxie Theater, San Francisco; Oxford Film Festival, Mississippi; Austria Film Museum, Vienna; and by The American Cinematheque in the Steven Spielberg Cinema at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.[15]

The complete Urania Trilogy of intrigue films, as conceived and directed by Falco, is currently in post production. A truncated version of Urania Descending Part I, along with newly-filmed Parts II & II, comprises one feature-length movie.

As Author[edit]

Falco has collaborated with Erik Morse, an American underground author, rock writer and journalist, on a two volume encyclopedic history and psychogeography of the city of Memphis, Tennessee, entitled Mondo Memphis. Falco's book, Ghosts Behind The Sun: Splendor, Enigma, and Death/Mondo Memphis: Volume 1, is a study of Memphis, beginning well before the Civil War and moving forward to more recent autobiographical accounts set in that city.[17] Morse's Bluff City Underground/Mondo Memphis: Volume 2 roman noir follows a West Coast graduate student and his encounters with a Memphis secret society.[18] Volume One was published by Creation Books in limited edition cloth and as hardcover in November 2011; a paperback edition of Falco's volume followed, and Volume Two was published in April 2012.[19]

In 2015, Falco's first book of photography, a collection of images of the gothic American South entitled Iconography of Chance: 99 Photographs of the Evanescent South, was published by Elsinore Press and distributed by University of Chicago Press.[20] The same year, he toured with Panther Burns and released another album recorded in Rome entitled Command Performance.[21]

As Solo Musician[edit]

Falco has released more than fourteen album recordings.[22] A live album, Live in London, was released on Stag-O-Lee Records in 2012.[23] In 2014, Falco compiled a double album of some of his favorite tracks from his music collection, Tav Falco's Wild & Exotic World of Musical Obscurities, also released on Stag-O-Lee Records. The album set included a cover song by the Panther Burns and liner notes by Falco.[24]

Cabaret Of Daggers is the most recent studio album. Although presented as a solo album, it features musicians from the Panther Burns band amongst others. The record was recorded in Rome and Memphis in 2018, and released same year by ORG Music in Los Angeles.

Falco continues to tour across the USA, Europe, and Australia.

Often Falco has claimed his main artistic purpose is "to stir up the dark waters of the unconscious."[25]


  1. ^ Armstrong, Gene (February 11, 1988). "Tav Falco and his Panther Burns bringing 'wreckabilly' to Tuscon". Arizona Daily Star. Tucson, AZ: Lee Enterprises. 147 (42): Sect. D, p. 5. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c DeVault, Russ (October 2, 1987). "Panther Burns' music soothes savage party animals". The Atlanta Constitution. Atlanta, GA: Cox Enterprises: Sect. P, p. 9. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e Burdine, Darby (August 26, 2016). "Tav Falco (1945–)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas (Online ed.). Little Rock, AR: Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Tav Falco's Panther Burns". First Avenue & 7th St Entry. Minneapolis, MN: First Avenue. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Smarrelli, Mara (January 16, 1987). "Panthers cook with swamp gas". The Age. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Nine Publishing Co.: Sect. EG, p. 2. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d Rodriguez, Kenn (May 31, 1996). "Delta blues forms bedrock for Panther Burns' sound". Albuquerque Journal. Albuquerque, NM: Journal Publishing Co. 116 (152): E18. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  7. ^ Hart, Gabe (November 10, 2011). "Tav Falco: Sexual, Abandoned, Political" (Online). LA Record. Los Angeles, CA: YBX Media Inc. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  8. ^ Lester, Wallace (June 29, 2012). "Record Of The Issue – Tav Falco's 'Behind The Magnolia Curtain'" (Online). The Local Voice. Oxford, MS: Rayburn Publishing. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  9. ^ "Tav Falco special". The C86 Show. David Eastaugh. December 10, 2019. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  10. ^ a b Tav Falco interview (1988). Art Fein's Poker Party #142 (video). Hollywood, CA: Art Fein. Event occurs at 19:35–21:45. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  11. ^ "A nagy postarablás (1992)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  12. ^ Rowin, Michael Joshua (October 20, 2019). "Review: Downtown 81 Celebrates a Bygone New York's Creative Energy". Slant Magazine. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  13. ^ Jönsson, Peter (December 12, 2018). "Wayne County Ramblin'". PopDiggers. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d "About Tav Falco". Tavfalco.com. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  15. ^ a b c McCovern, Todd (May 29, 2019). "Tav Falco: Utopian Anarchist in Cuban Heels" (Online). Please Kill Me. Gillian McCain & Legs McNeil. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  16. ^ Thompson, Elise (June 1, 2017). "The American Cinematheque Presents Tav Falco's First Feature Film, 'Urania Descending' June 2nd and 3rd" (Online). The Los Angeles Beat. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  17. ^ Ghosts Behind the Sun: Splendor, Enigma & Death: Mondo Memphis: Volume 1. 2011. ISBN 978-1840681819.
  18. ^ Bluff City Underground: A Roman Noir of the Deep South: Mondo Memphis, Volume 2. April 30, 2012. ISBN 978-1840681826.
  19. ^ "MONDO MEMPHIS: TAV FALCO & ERIK MORSE". Creation Books. Archived from the original on March 15, 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2011.
  20. ^ Bengal, Rebecca (December 20, 2015). "Picturing the American South: The Year's Best Photo Books Reveal a Vast Portrait". Vogue. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  21. ^ Mehr, Bob (October 8, 2015). "Mid-South ex-pat Tav Falco returns to scene of 1970s provocations with Lafayette's show". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, TN. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  22. ^ "Tav Falco Panther Burns' Music – DISCOGRAPHY". limbos.org. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  23. ^ "Tav Falco & the Panther Burns – Live in London". Allmusic.com. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  24. ^ "Tav Falco's Wild & Exotic World of Musical Obscurities". TheWire.co.uk. The Wire. November 2014. p. 83. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  25. ^ Turner, Jeremy (December 2003). "07: Interview With Tav Falco about Early Telematic Art at Televista in Memphis]". Outer Space: The Past, Present and Future of Telematic Art. Open Space Arts Society. Retrieved April 28, 2005.


External links[edit]