Booker T. Jones performs at Stax, ahead of milestone

Sep 15, 2022, 1:08 AM | Updated: 5:58 pm
Master keyboardist Booker T. Jones prepares a Hammond B3 organ before a performance at the Stax Mus...

Master keyboardist Booker T. Jones prepares a Hammond B3 organ before a performance at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

(AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Wearing a blue suit, black hat and multi-colored socks, master keyboardist Booker T. Jones leaned away from the Hammond B3 organ, tilted his head back and worked the keys and foot pedals as he played the funky and familiar hit “Green Onions” for a head-bobbing, toe-tapping crowd at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

The intimate performance by Jones and a tight backup band Wednesday was part of an event at the Memphis, Tennessee, museum that previewed its yearlong 20th anniversary celebration planned for 2023.

Built on the site of the former Stax Records, the museum celebrates the influential soul music born from the studio where Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MGs, Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave and others recorded some of American popular music’s most memorable songs.

“Right here in this space, you are on hallowed ground,” said Pat Mitchell Worley, president and CEO of the Soulsville Foundation, which oversees the museum.

Jones’ rousing renditions of “Hip Hugger,” “Time is Tight,” “Soul Limbo,” and the 60-year-old “Green Onions” followed a video announcing events celebrating the museum’s opening two decades ago. They include a year’s worth of free field trips for students, a concert series featuring performances by national acts, and a mobile “pop-up” vehicle that will take Stax music, merchandise and more to locations like Austin’s SXSW, Nashville’s Americana Fest and New Orleans’ Essence Festival.

A Memphis native, Jones, 77, said he feels fortunate to have been able to develop his musical talent just a few blocks from his house, at Stax. Jones said he feels “an openness” when he walks into the Stax building.

“I guess you can say that there are locations on the Earth, some more conducive to art than others,” Jones told reporters before his performance. “This is a location that is conducive to art.”

The museum is a top attraction in Memphis, where Graceland, Sun Studio, Beale Street and the Memphis Rock N’ Soul Museum also treat tourists to the music created in the Mississippi River city.

Stax fostered a raw sound born from Black church music, the blues and rock ‘n’ roll. It featured tight rhythm sections, powerful horn players, and singers who could be sexy and soulful in one tune, loud and forceful in another.

Some of Stax’s musicians grew up near the studio, which moved into the old Capitol Theatre in 1960. They called it “Soulsville U.S.A.” — a name that stuck to the surrounding working class neighborhood, now called Soulsville.

Jones was a member of Booker T. and the M.G.s, a biracial quartet that served as the recording studio’s house band, backing up many of the studio’s hitmakers. Along with the multiracial Memphis Horns, they provided the foundation for songs that became to soul music what Motown was to rhythm and blues.

“Working at Stax was like giving a daily sermon to the world, of being open with loving emotions to others regardless of who they were or looked like,” said David Porter, who wrote hits such as Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man.”

Stax Records enjoyed massive success into the late 1960s. But Redding and four members of the Bar-Kays died in a plane crash in 1967, and the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 intensified racial division in Memphis and around the country.

By the mid-1970s, Stax was out of business due to financial turmoil and legal problems. The building that housed the studio was demolished.

The museum opened in May 2003. It offers self-guided tours and includes a film detailing the studio’s history, exhibits chronicling the origins and development of Memphis soul music, listening stations and memorabilia such as Hayes’ flashy Cadillac car.

Adjacent to the museum is the Stax Music Academy, an after-school program where teenagers from some of Memphis’ poorest neighborhoods learn how to dance, sing and play instruments. The Soulsville Foundation operates the museum, the academy and a charter school.

Porter, who co-wrote “Hold On I’m Comin” after songwriting partner Isaac Hayes called for him to hurry up while Porter was in the bathroom, is among several Stax ambassadors for the anniversary. Others include guitarist and songwriter Steve Cropper, former Stax Records executive and owner Al Bell and singer-songwriter Eddie Floyd, of “Knock on Wood” fame.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Oklahoma judge rules man competent to be executed this month

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma judge ruled Tuesday that a man on death row for killing his 9-month-old daughter is competent to be executed, paving the way for his lethal injection next month. Judge Mike Hogan in Pittsburg County, where the Oklahoma State Penitentiary is located, issued his decision in the case of Benjamin […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Blackbaud, Acuity Brands rise; AXT, KalVista fall

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that traded heavily or had substantial price changes Tuesday: Blackbaud Inc., up $8.12 to $53.13. Clearlake Capital disclosed an 18.4% stake in the software and services provider focused on the nonprofit sector. Poshmark Inc., up $2.04 to $17.61. The online marketplace for second-hand goods is being bought by Naver. AXT […]
14 hours ago
FILE - Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs a bill in Oklahoma City on March 30, 2022, that prevents tra...
Associated Press

Oklahoma governor urges action on anti-transgender medicine

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill Tuesday targeting medical treatments for transgender youth and called on the GOP-controlled Legislature to impose a statewide ban when it returns in February. The bill signed by the first-term Republican, who is up for reelection next month, authorizes more than $108 million in federal […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Lawyer: Trump ‘eager’ for deposition in rape accuser case

NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer for ex-President Donald Trump said Tuesday that her client is “ready and eager” to sit for a deposition in the defamation case of a woman who says he raped her in the 1990s, but she’s nevertheless asking that it be postponed. Attorney Alina Habba wrote to a Manhattan federal […]
14 hours ago
Attorneys of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, Phillip Linder, left, and James Lee Bright, arrive...
Associated Press

Oath Keepers founder: Be ‘ready to fight’ after Trump loss

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hours after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, the leader of the Oath Keepers extremist group was discussing how to push President Donald Trump to go further in his fight to cling to power, according to messages shown to jurors Tuesday in his U.S. Capitol attack trial. […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Man charged with damaging Scott Joplin House

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man was charged Tuesday with breaking into the historic home of ragtime composer Scott Joplin and causing tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Thirty-eight-year-old Kevin Daley-Bey faces one count each of second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Police […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Booker T. Jones performs at Stax, ahead of milestone