Wednesday, January 24, 2007

New York Press Conference and American Idol Memphis

Officially kicking off the 50 Years of Soul celebration, the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau made a trek to New York City and BB King’s on 42nd street to make an official media announcement. With the legends like Isaac Hayes, David Porter, Al Bell, Mable John, Steve Cropper and Jody Stephens (of Big Star fame) in tow, the city of Memphis put its best foot forward with a live band and a lengthy question and answer session.

While many stories, opinions and compliments were passed around, Isaac Hayes and David Porter, Stax Records’ most potent songwriting team for most of the ‘60s, stole the show, as they seemed to finish each other’s sentences. During the session, it occurred to me, and a number of reporters in the house, that among Isaac, David and Steve Cropper, nearly the complete Stax catalogue of songs was represented. To call these guys prolific would be an understatement. For a more thorough take on the press conference, click here:

Never one to understate, last night’s American Idol episode featured Memphis, Tennessee. After what many have called lackluster auditions in Minneapolis (they still got Prince) and Seattle, Memphis represented the depth of talent and appreciation for song in the South with a wide and varied group of singers and performers. While these early episodes may take some time out for a joke or two, or three, the talent attracted to Memphis was clearly a blessing to Simon, Randy and Paula. My personal favorites chose songs from Memphis-based artists: the Fidel Castro look alike Sean Michel who stomped his way through a soulful version of the recent Johnny Cash hit, “Gods Going To Cut You Down,” a traditional gospel song; and Sundance Head’s powerful rendition of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Stormy Monday.”


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