Soul and blues men Booker T. Jones, The Bar-Kays and William Bell, modern music makers who brought “soul” into the mainstream, performed at the Memphis Music Festival at The Mahaffey Theater August 8th.
Booker T. Jones, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Musicians Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy ® Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is credited for setting the stage for modern soul music and is largely responsible for its rise and enduring popularity. Best known as the front man for the band Booker T. & the MGs, Mr. Jones was a prodigy playing the oboe, saxophone, trombone, bass and piano at school. In 1960, at the age of 16, he worked as a staff musician for Stax Records, formed his band and co-wrote the classic instrumental “Green Onions.”
Other hit singles are “Hang ‘Em High,” “Time is Tight” and “Melting Pot.” Mr. Jones released his 10th album, Sound the Alarm, featuring a group of guest artists including his son Ted Jones last year.
The funk-o-matic Memphis group The Bar-Kays originated as the Stax Records’ house band in Memphis in 1966 during turbulent times. In a city known for singing the blues and rock ‘n roll, the sound of soul offered a raw and real-deal relevance to a young African American community seeking its own music. The Bar-Kays purposeful soulfulness carried them to a chart-topping perch in 1967 with the hit “Soulfinger.”
Band members are Larry Dodson, lead singer, James Alexander, bass player and founder of The Bar-Kays, Tony Gentry and Mike Anderson, guitar, Ezra Williams, keyboard, Carlos Sargent, drums, Mark Bynum, keyboard and Darrel Stanley and Archie Love, background vocals.
The Bar-Kays have a career total of 29 albums including one platinum album, five gold albums and 20 Top 10 singles. Their music has been sampled by musicians from Coolio to Will Smith to old schoolers like Cameo.
Singer/songwriter William Bell, the recipient of the 1997 Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s R&B Pioneer Award, was inducted into the George Music Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame in 2004. During his distinguished career, Mr. Bell has come to define the essence of “soul.” He made his recording debut as a member of The Del Rios in the late 1950s and released the classic single “You Don’t Miss Your Water” in 1961.
His first full-length album, The Soul of a Bell (1967), included the Top 20 hit single “Everybody Loves a Winner.” That same year, blues great Albert King recorded what came to be his signature tune, “Born Under a Bad Sign,” has since become one of the most-recorded blue songs. It was written by Mr. Bell and Mr. Jones.