Booker T. & the MGs

From 1960-75 an old movie theater on McLemore Avenue in Memphis was renowned as Soulsville, U.S.A., the home of Stax Records. It was an outpost of racial harmony in a still-segregated city, as well as the source of a signature sound invariably built on the lean, sinuous grooves of keyboards prodigy Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn, and drummer Al Jackson. As Stax's house band, Booker T. & the MGs anchored countless sessions with the likes of Albert King, Rufus Thomas, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Wilson Pickett, as well as scoring a series of their own sizzling instrumental hits, including "Green Onions," "Soul Limbo," and "Time Is Tight." Eddie Floyd, who started out singing gospel with the Falcons, was also a key member of the Stax family, as a singer, songwriter, and producer. Sometimes writing with Cropper, Floyd was responsible for a deep catalogue of such iconic soul tunes as "Knock on Wood," "Raise Your Hand," "Don't Mess with Cupid," and "634-5789." Jackson was murdered in 1975, the MGs dissolved along with the Stax label, and the spot on McLemore became a rubble-strewn lot. In recent years, however, Booker T. & the MGs reformed with drummer Steve Potts (Jackson's cousin), the signature Stax marquee and facade rose from the ashes on McLemore (fronting a wonderful Stax museum and adjacent music academy that is sparking a neighborhood renewal), the Stax label was revived by Concord Music Group, and Floyd put out a great new album last summer, Eddie Loves You So (Stax), that revisits many of the hits he wrote for other artists. With Floyd joining Booker and the MGs for these shows, the Dakota should be Soulsville North. $60 at 7 p.m.; $45 at 9:30 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 2, 2008

 
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