Friday, June 15, 2007

Soul Week is Just Around the Corner

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Soul Week here in Memphis, and if there’s a holiday to celebrate this summer it’s on June 22nd.

The newly rejuvenated Stax Records is throwing down in Memphis at the Orpheum Theater with “50 Years of Stax” benefit show that unites some of the greatest legendary soul stars onstage for the first time in years.

The show will feature, among others, Isaac Hayes, Booker T & the MGs, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Mavis Staples, Mable John, the Soul Children, and Angie Stone.

Available through Ticketmaster, tickets are going for $25, $50 and $100, but for those who want premium seats in this beautiful venue consider the limited number of $1,000 Golden Circle tickets. It’s all for a good cause as proceeds from the show benefit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, located at the site of the old Stax headquarters on Memphis’ historic McLemore Avenue.

Golden Circle admission will include VIP orchestra seating at the Orpheum, VIP parking and shuttle service, a pre-show private party at the Orpheum Broadway Club, a gala after party at the Gibson Lounge featuring performances by Stax artists and friends, a private celebrity tour of the Museum, the 50th Anniversary Stax CD box set, a lithographed poster, and a commemorative Stax T-shirt.

Sounds like a steal. For more information on Golden Circle tickets, please call Deanie Parker at 901-261-6385.

But those are just the details. It’s the music that counts and this show will deliver some of the best live soul sounds since, well, probably March, when Booker T and the MGs played the SXSW music festival in Texas. That was a small show, with fans young and old, lined up around the corner waiting to get in. Not so this time, though we still expect lines for tickets and fans of all ages. But this event is bigger and better as StaxRecords has brought in a slew of superior soul artists. Here’s a little bit about them:

Booker T. & the MGs
Booker T. & the MGs began accidentally, but became, arguably, the most important group in the history of soul. Organist Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, drummer Al Jackson, Jr., and bassist Lewie Steinberg were randomly scheduled to back Billy Lee Riley at a Stax recording session in summer 1962. While warming up, the group came up with the song “Green Onions,” their biggest hit. By 1965, former Mar-Key member Donald “Duck” Dunn had taken over the bass from Steinberg, and the group went on to define the Stax sound, releasing records under Booker T. & the MGs, and backing up hits by Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Albert King, Wilson Pickett, and Sam & Dave. The group, along with songwriters David Porter and Isaac Hayes, formed the “Big 6” producers pool who, in various combinations, artistically directed Stax recordings. Cropper later mused: “For me it was like going to church every day. You walked in those doors at Stax, you left everything out there behind you. I’d work eighteen hours a day and never even thought about being tired.”

Mavis Staples
Though known for her lead vocal work in the legendary Staples Sisters and on songs like “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There,” Mavis Staples has been recording solo work since 1969. Singing everything from gospel to folk to soul and disco, Mavis’ talents are unquestioned, but it is her ability for lyrics and phrasing that makes her unique. An almost direct connection to the Staples Sisters socio-political inspiration, Mavis reemerged with one of the year’s best albums, Never Turn Back. Produced by Ry Cooder and featuring guests like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the record asserts Mavis’ commitment to the civil rights struggle.

Angie Stone
Though the revitalization of Stax Records has largely revolved around remastered reissues of classic Stax records, the label is determined to take classic soul music into the future. As a result, one of the first artists to sign with the label was Angie Stone.
Breaking into the business as the lead vocalist on Vertical Hold’s urban dance track “Seems You’re Much Too Busy,” an R&B Top 40 hit in 1993, Stone has been recording solo since 1999. Taking a classic old-school approach to her music, Stone cut songs like “No More Rain (In This Cloud),” which featured samples from Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye”). But she also had a hip, contemporary edge to her music and worked with the likes of Lenny Kravitz, former Tribe Called Quest member Ali Shaheed Muhammad, as well as D’Angelo.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can hear all of this on

Great station!

3:44 PM  

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