Memphis Soul, Nook and Cranny
From the public address system in local grocery stores to the ultra-hip Beauty Shop Restaurant in Cooper-Young, the sounds of soul can be found in almost every nook and cranny. Pay attention to that background music when you stroll through the aisles of a convenient store or gas station or local shoe store and you’re more than likely listening to WDIA or Otis Redding’s Greatest Hits. The ubiquitous nature of Memphis music is what, in part, makes Memphis music so unique: Memphians listen to it. Yeah, that’s right, we Memphians enjoy the music made in this town, whether it be from Sun Studio, Stax, American Recordings or Ardent Records. This love affair extends to our record stores and one place we can guarantee you’ll hear Memphis Soul (and a lot of other Memphis music) is in a modest, but well-known record shop on Madison Avenue in Midtown, Shangri-La Records.
Owned by Sherman Wilmott, a local label owner, tour guide, historian and one of three credited curators of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Shangri-La’s selection of Memphis music is arguably the strongest in the region. Brows the bins and you’ll find Lps, CDs, 45s and 78s of Blues, Soul, R&B, Rockabilly, Country, Funk and a long selection of unique compilations like Scott Bomar’s Impala, “Night Full of Sirens: Anthology 93-97” or The Hook-Up’s “Simmer to a Boil: 2 Dozen Soul Cookers.” Attracting Memphis music fans from all over the world, the store also has the honor of employing one of the city’s best soul music DJs, Andrew McCalla, aka DJ Buck Wilders.
A featured DJ-in-residence at local club, The Buccaneer on Thursday nights, McCalla also does quarterly soul night gigs at the Hi-Tone. But were most people experience McCalla’s good, and obscure, taste for soul is on local independent radio station, WEVL. Spinning records every Tuesday afternoon on the station’s well-known show, “Memphis Beat,” McCalla has, according to the Commercial Appeal’s Bob Mehr, “shined in his on-air role, handling interviews with roots vets including Harvey Scales and Bobby Rush and setting up in-studio performances by younger artists such as Jeffrey James and the Hall and Vending Machine.”
Featuring an eclectic play list that covers everything from Stax instrumentals to gospel to early Sun Records to country and blues, McCalla has quickly established himself as one of the most knowledgeable locals of Memphis music.