Southern Soul Tribute: Muscle Shoals & Stax/Volt
March 21, 2014 at Bethesda Blues & Jazz (Bethesda, MD)
March 22, 2014 at The Weinberg Center (Frederick, MD)
The Soul Serenaders (Featuring Billy Price & Tommy Lepson), Julia Nixon, Eddie Jones, Tom Principato, King Soul, Daryl Davis, Patty Reese, Bob Berberich, Soul Crackers and more!
*Click photo to move through gallery
(Review of Southern Soul by Crawlin' Kingsnake of Baltimore Blues Society)
" The Southern Soul Tribute show was was a must see show for all of us who grew up listening to and craving the incredible and very unique sound that came from the Stax/Volt Record studio at 926 East McLemore Avenue in Memphis. Unlike the poplar Motown sound, the Stax sound was grittier and more primal as was the artists who created it. One of the main ingredients for the success of this sound was the house band Booker T & the M.G.'s which featured the outstanding guitar work of Steve Cropper that backed the soulful singing of Rufus and Carla Thomas, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and many more and was the label that gave us the Holy Grail, the combination of blues and soul when they combined the incredible bluesman Albert King with Booker T & the M.G's to give the blues an awesome new and phenomenal sound.
Ron Newmyer did an excellent job hiring outstanding regional talent and coordinating the lineup for this huge thirty five musician extravaganza that recreated that sound with a rock solid throbbing rhythm section' with horns, two keyboards and sometimes backup singers backing truly outstanding performances by every singer who came on stage. Most of these great performers I was already familiar with and knew what to expect. The big surprises for me was Julia Nixon from North Carolina, who I had never heard of and had moved her name way back in my promotion really killed it on Aretha Franklin's “Never Loved a Man” and Patty Reese a local who I had also never seen and had mistakenly thought was more of a folk singer really surprised and proved me dead wrong by giving powerful and soulful readings of Etta James “Tell Mama” and Mable John's “Your Good Thing is About to End” Of course Tom Principato was given the duty of covering one of Albert King's contributions with “Crosscut Saw” with a great extended guitar solo, one of only a few as the Stax sound was all about a very tight dance rhythm, rhythm guitar with horn solos and fills. For me and most of the audience the real showstopper was Little Margie Clark, a little frail old woman who surprised the entire audience singing with such gusto and feeling on Carla Thomas's “Gee Whiz” and the energy she showed leading the roughly fifteen musicians and backup singers on “I'll Take You There” as she started doing some funky dancing. Her singing of Gee Whiz caused one of the first standing ovations!
This was truly one of the most outstanding shows I have ever seen and makes me very interested in seeing future shows by Ron Newmyer's production company. For the last nine years he has produced very similar large scale productions with his co-founded nonprofit music organization BandHouse Gigs and recently doing the same with his new company Newmyer Flyer utilizing many of our regional performers in spectacles that included a Stevie Wonder Tribute show in July 2012, a Rolling Stone tribute show at the Fillmore Silver Spring in August; a Tribute to The Last Waltz November 2nd at the Hamilton, a show featuring performances of the Van Morrison's Moondance album and Bruce Springsteens “the Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle” at Ram's Head Annapolis November 29th, and a sold out Beatle tribute show at the Hamilton this past February.
This Southern Soul Tribute show sold out the 500 seat Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club in Bethesda Friday and about that many people enjoyed the show at the Weinberg Theater in Frederick Saturday where I saw it with Henry, Mae and Karen. I have pictures and video that will be uploaded after being processed in an editor. The pictures will be up much sooner. Here is a link to some excellent pictures taken by Linda Parker Friday. (Click on the word slideshow at top right for best viewing)
Tom Clifford, lead singer of King Soul, told me after the show 'I only wish there was a camera going in the main lounge downstairs as there were some fantastic stories of the old days going on!' "