Stax at 15 

The Stax Museum of American Soul is celebrating its 15th birthday this week with all day free admission and a party featuring music by The Bo-Keys. "We're also going to have food, drink, and a special Pancho's cheese dip table," says museum communications director Tim Sampson.

Why a cheese dip table, you might ask? Sampson handily connects the dots between a gooey local delicacy and Floyd Newman, the Stax sideman who's donating his 100-year-old saxophone to the museum at Thursday night's party. "1956, Morris Berger, the owner of the Plantation Inn [in West Memphis], opened the first Panchos out on the highway somewhere," he explains. "Well, a truck plowed into that one and demolished it, so they built the one that's still there today, next door to the Plantation Inn but still there. Floyd didn't get his start there, but he spent some of his career there, and when I told Pancho's current owner Brenda O'Brien that we were honoring Floyd, she said, 'We're sending cheese dip and chips!'"

click to enlarge Floyd Newman and his 100-year-old sax
  • Floyd Newman and his 100-year-old sax

Newman was an original member of B.B. King's band and his saxophone can be heard all over the Stax catalog from performances with the Mar-Keys to Otis Redding's, "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay."

"It's a hundred years old this year," Sampson says. "Floyd's father bought it for him in the 1940s at a pawnshop on Beale Street. Then they did some research with a serial number and figured out that it had been made in 1918. And he played on everything, with so many artists. And it's the only saxophone he ever played. He never had another one. Said he only needed one horn."

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