Monday, August 6, 2007

Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration

This entry like the previuos posting, comes from a recent PBS program, this time a captivating special on the 50th Anniversary of Stax Records, a record company that was responsible for the hits of many Black recording artist. One of the highlights of my visit to my brother and his family in Memphis in '04 was a tour of the showcase museum that has been renovated from the ashes of the old Stax headquarters. I thought I'd share the write-up of the TV special called "Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story" which premiered on Aug. 1, 2007 on PBS series Great Performances:

Between 1959 and 1975, Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee released international chart-topping hits such as "Soul Man," "Dock of the Bay," "Green Onions," "Midnight Hour," "Respect Yourself," and the theme from SHAFT. The label's artists included Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Booker T. & the MG's, Rufus and Carla Thomas, the Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, and even Richard Pryor and Jesse Jackson. Founded by a white conservative bank teller who played country fiddle music, Stax became the preeminent soul music label in America, and became identified with the civil rights movement of the 1960s and '70s.

RESPECT YOURSELF documents the Stax label, its visionaries, and most of all, its music. Although started by a white banker and his sister, Estelle Axton, Stax eventually became one of the largest and most successful black-owned companies in the country before it was forced into bankruptcy due to financial and legal troubles in 1975. The label was resurrected in December 2006 and Concord Records, which acquired it, has been issuing new albums, re-releasing classics from the original catalogue, and mounting special Stax Revue concerts across the country. The legacy of Stax and the artists who recorded there is also being kept alive by the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, now located at the site of the former studio on the corner of McLemore Avenue and College Street in Memphis.

The Stax Museum in Memphis, founded in 2003, is a replica of the Stax studio on McLemore Avenue, and is built on the same site where many of the historic Stax recording sessions took place. The original Stax studio was torn down in 1989. Find out more about the musuem at:

Research info provided by:

Now, poems that are music to the ears:

When The Daring Among Us Flirt

...for instance, his switchblade glinting in brassy
urban light or a big X marked in black
lipstick on a public restroom's
mirror or maybe it
could simply
mean let
him who never
sinned cast the first
stone in broad daylight before
a crowd of onlookers who laugh jeer
boo point fingers at an example of road
rage rushing towards her desert solitude an
aging actress is arrested after slapping a cop's face
in the shadow of skyscrapers & shattered bread crumbs
for the pigeons or maybe the tabloids could tell her
housekeeper who plays solitaire with one toe
tracing the floral pattern in the carpet.

It Turns Or Rotates

To think we almost took it home.

She imagines his hands on the wheel. Then
a forest of tress appear composed of rocket
fuel. Sunlight drools on the pane. The story
of clouds passing is constantly revised. Gosh,
you suppose I could we could wade in...

The only time Spring needed an introduction.
I could be your flashlight O feral saint.

All day a piece of roofing slaps in the wind.
Next daybreak precedes with equal wonder.
Some things simply flourish at a distance.
Not living anyone's lifeI dare you.

Poems first published online at:
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