Discussing @StaxRecords and Its Impact on Memphis at @RhodesCollege

Bands, entertainment, events, Memphis, music, videos


The recent release of Robert Gordon’s superb new book Respect Yourself: The Rise and Fall of Stax Records has unleashed a flurry of renewed interest in Stax Records and its impact on Memphis. On March 6, 2014, a panel discussion was held at the student center at Rhodes College in Memphis, discussing the history and significance of Stax Records on the city of Memphis. Such panels had been held before, but this one was significant, as it featured voices from Stax that have not been heard quite as often- drummer Willie Hall, songwriter Bettye Crutcher, bluesman Don Nix and pianist/songwriter Marvel Thomas. Don Nix spoke forcefully and at length about how Stax was a different sort of place racially compared to Memphis at large until after the assasination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bettye Crutcher talked about how she became a songwriter, and Willie Hall talked about his early career as a drummer at Stax. Altogether it was a fun and uplifting experience.

Robert Gordon Signs His New Book at @StaxMemphis

Bands, Books, entertainment, events, music


Memphis music author Robert Gordon has completed his latest book Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion, which is the third book to deal with the history of Stax Records, after Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music and Rob Bowman’s Soulsville, USA, and Gordon was at the Stax Museum in South Memphis on Saturday afternoon to sign copies of the new book. Memphis’ legendary bluesman (and former Mar-Key) Don Nix was also present, as were around a hundred or so people who came to get their books signed, enjoy food and drink, and hear Gordon read excerpts. An all-Stax concert featuring Don Nix, Eddie Floyd and Sir Mack Rice was being held later down in Clarksdale at Ground Zero.

Charles “Packy” Axton Album Release Party at Stax

Albums, Blues, entertainment, events, Funk, Memphis, music, soul

In some ways, Charles “Packy” Axton was the forgotten man in the Stax Records saga. The son of one of the partners, Estelle Axton, he was a saxophone player in the original Stax band, the Mar-Keys, along with Don Nix and others. Exiled from Stax by his uncle, Jim Stewart (by some accounts due to drugs and/or alcohol), he recorded only a handful of sides before dying tragically in 1974, only in his thirties. But the really hip Light in the Attic Records label out of Seattle has assembled all the material they could find into one cool CD called “Late Late Party”, and the album release party at the Stax Museum was something of an all-star gala, despite the odd time of 4 PM on a Tuesday afternoon. Scott Bomar of the Bo-Keys was there, as well as Andrea Lisle, local Memphis music writer, Robert Gordon, the author of It Came From Memphis, legendary bluesman/photographer Don Nix, who had been Packy’s bandmate in the Mar-Keys, and L. H. White, who was the “L.H.” in L. H. and the Memphis Sounds, who cut four sides under Packy’s direction that would ultimately come out on the Nashville-based Hollywood label. Altogether, it was a good time with good music, and the only sad thing being that Charles “Packy” Axton never saw such acclaim during his lifetime. 

Don Nix: A Memphis Music Legend’s Photographs

Bands, entertainment, events, music, Photography



Most people probably know Don Nix as an important Memphis musician and producer, if they know him at all. But last week’s opening at the Robinson Gallery on Huling Avenue revealed that Don Nix, the former Mar-Key and disciple of Furry Lewis and Mississippi Fred McDowell, is also a very talented photographer. His black-and-white images capture the early historic days of Stax, and reduce legends like Rufus Thomas and Booker T. & the MGs to ordinary human size in everyday settings. Cold weather didn’t hold down the attendance, there was wine and cheese, and a rocking blues band on stage playing Nix compositions.