Stax Music Academy Alumni Band 

Stax Academy Alumni Band at B. B. King's from Memphidelity on Vimeo.

Last Friday, I had one of those Memphis Kool-Aid experiences: the sort of thing where you become blind to the heat and the hate that bog down so much of life in this city and become a glassy-eyed, sign-carrying apostle of all things Memphis.

The Stax Music Academy Alumni Band is composed of academy graduates who are in college. Many are home for the summer. They will play at B.B. King's every Monday and Friday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. through July 25th. There is no cover. They also play the Stax Museum every Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. So you can take the babies too.

click to enlarge Stax Alumni - COURTESY STAX MUSEUM OF AMERICAN SOUL MUSIC
  • Courtesy Stax Museum of American Soul Music
  • Stax Alumni

This is the second year that the band has taken residency at B.B. King's. From the look and sound of things last week, it's a major success. While there was a contingency of proud parents and some Academy staff on hand, the bar was crowded, and there were tables full of tourists. The band had the crowd whipped up into genuine enthusiasm. People were dancing at lunch in 95-degree weather. They were that good.

It was the day before Teenie Hodges passed away in Texas. There was no way the band could have known that. But they broke into "Love & Happiness," Hodges' second-most well-known song, with Hodges' iconic opening guitar riff, and drove the song home like a Mack truck full of soul. The joy on the faces of the kids as they played the classic song was a testament to Hodges' life and artistry. His work endures in these kids. Go hear them immediately.

— Joe


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