by Mark DemingThe master of a raw and shambolic fusion of rockabilly, blues, and fractured noise, Tav Falco was, along with the Cramps, one of the earliest purveyors of what would come to be known as psychobilly (though his version of the sound lacked the campy horror movie ambience others brought to it), and he anticipated the fractured but hard-hitting blueswailing of the Gories and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion by close to a decade. Born in Arkansas, Falco moved to Memphis, TN, in 1973 and introduced himself to the citys creative community as a filmmaker and performance artist while supporting himself with a variety of odd jobs. While making documentary films on blues artists in Tennessee and Mississippi (including a piece on R.L. Burnside shot at his legendary juke joint in 1974), Falco was inspired to pick up the guitar, though his first on-stage performance with the instrument involved him destroying a six-string with a chainsaw. In 1979, Falco put together the first version of his band the Panther Burns (named for a famous Tennessee plantation), a group whose revolving membership included Alex Chilton and James Luther Dickinson in its early incarnations. In 1981, Falco recorded his first album, Behind the Magnolia Curtain, which also included performances by Othar Turner & His Fife and Drum Band. The album won favorable critical notices, and Falco relocated to New York City, where he brought his frenetic roots music to the Big Apples then-thriving no wave scene, which led to Falcos first and only major-label release, Blow Your Top, a 1982 EP issued by Chris Steins Animal label. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Falco began dividing his time between Europe and the United States, and released a slow but steady stream of recordings with shifting Panther Burns lineups while continuing to perform with dance and performance troupes and act periodically in films (including small roles in Downtown 81, Highway 61, and Great Balls of Fire).